Predictors of unmet needs for communication and mobility assistive devices among youth with a disability: the role of socio-cultural factors

Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2011;6(1):10-21. doi: 10.3109/17483107.2010.514972.


Purpose: Despite the importance of ensuring access to assistive technology, high rates of underutilization remain. Relatively little is known about the characteristics of young people reporting unmet needs for assistive devices, so our study examined this further.

Method: Data were analyzed using the 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey. Youth aged 15-24 were selected to explore the characteristics associated with those currently using or reporting unmet needs for communication or mobility devices (n = 15,817).

Results: Family structure and language spoken influenced the likelihood of using a communication device for two age subgroups. Meanwhile, language spoken influenced the likelihood of reporting unmet needs for communication assistive devices. The following factors influenced the likelihood of using a mobility device: age, gender, language spoken, income, family structure, and severity of impairment. Gender, geographic location, language spoken, family structure, duration and severity of impairment and presence of other impairments influenced the likelihood of reporting unmet needs for mobility devices.

Conclusions: Clinicians need to pay particular attention to the socio-cultural factors of young clients transitioning to adult care.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Canada
  • Communication Aids for Disabled / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Orthopedic Equipment / statistics & numerical data
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Self-Help Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Wheelchairs / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult