There are 11 million disabled people in Britain  many of whom use assistive technology to lead independent lives. Assistive technology includes equipment for daily living, such as bath hoists, stair lifts, hearing and communication aids and systems such as ’smart homes’ and accessible transport.
There is an urgent need to improve assistive technology services. Advances in healthcare have led to the survival of children born with complex impairments and at the same time the population of England is ageing. In the next 20 years, the number of people 85 and over in England will increase by two-thirds, compared with a 10 per cent growth in the population as a whole. Failing health, the progression of long-term conditions and disease and frailty can all limit people from living their normal lives and make them dependent on the care of others. FAST believes that there are a number of factors that are limiting the uptake of new assistive technologies in the UK.
In 1993 evidence was collected which confirmed that there was little or no information about research and development and innovative technologies. A joint meeting, hosted by RADAR and the Disabled Living Foundation, concluded that an organisation was needed that would:
The Foundation for Assistive Technology was established as a charity in 1998 to address this gap and to do so through building an independent partnership between service providers, users, the research community and manufacturers.
[1: Source: Disability Rights Commission]