Digital Assistive Technologies to support remote working by people with disabilities: A scoping Review

Peer-reviewed article


Dr. Nicola T. Shaw , Sarah Boudreau , & Mohamed Issaoui 

Background: The issue In the spring of 2020 many companies sent their employees home to work remotely in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. Without forethought or planning, an entire workforce was mobilized using digital assistive technologies to support remote working. Prior to this, these same companies had often claimed an “undue hardship” when asked to make these same accommodations for people with disabilities. Over a year later and much has been learned about the use of digital assistive technology to support remote workers. More importantly, for the first time, people with disabilities can come to the same table in their search for employment. Therefore, the focus of this report is a scoping review undertaken to answer the question: How does digital adaptive technology address barriers to labor market participation for people with disabilities? Objectives As a result this study was conceived with four primary objectives: 1) Summarizing key concepts and terminology and provide criteria for future reporting; 2) Inventory of all available digital assistive technologies; 3) Evaluation and synthesis of available evidence related to effectiveness and utility of available technologies; and 4) Provision of recommendations for future research and development. Results This scoping review was able to complete Objectives 1 and 4. The summary of key concepts and terminology is provided for in Appendix Two and the criteria for future reporting is included within the section on ‘Classifications of assistive technologies’. The inventory of all available assistive technologies is underway and a public facing accessible online database will be launched in the fall of 2021. To meet Objective 3 this scoping review report will be summarized in written reports for presentation to knowledge users and for peer reviewed publication. An abstract on this study has already been accepted for presentation at the Northern Health Research Conference in the fall of 2021. The section on ‘Implications (for policy, practice or research)’ provides recommendations for future research and development.