Purpose: Substantial evidence supports assistive technology and environmental adaptations as key enablers to participation. In order to realise the potential of these interventions, they need to be both recognised in policy, and resourced in practice. This paper uses political theory to understand the complexities of assistive technology (AT) policy reform in Australia. AT research will not be influential in improving AT policy without consideration of political drivers. Method: Theories of policy formation are considered, with Kingdon's (2003) theory of multiple streams identified as a useful lens through which to understand government actions. This theory is applied to the case of current AT policy reformulation in Australia. Results: The convergence model of problem identification, policy formulation and political will is found to be an applicable construct with which to evaluate contemporary policy changes. This paper illustrates the cogency of this theory for the field of AT, in the case of Australia's recent disability and aged care reforms. Conclusions: Political theory provides a way of conceptualising the difficulties of consumers and AT practitioners experience in getting therapeutically valid solutions into public policy, and then getting policies prioritised and funded. It is suggested that AT practitioners must comprehend and consider political factors in working towards effective policies to support their practice.Implications for RehabilitationAT practitioners generally lack political awareness or an understanding of the drivers of policy.The effectiveness of AT practitioners at a systemic level will remain limited without consideration of policy drivers.AT practitioners must comprehend and consider political factors in working towards effective policies to support their practice.
Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, Vol. 10, no. 3 (2015), pp. 240-244
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