Open Access Research article

Assistive technology use and human rights enjoyment: a cross-sectional study in Bangladesh

Johan Borg12*, Stig Larsson1, Per-Olof Östergren2, ASM Atiqur Rahman3, Nazmul Bari4 and AHM Noman Khan4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Health Sciences, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden

2 Social Medicine and Global Health, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden

3 Institute of Social Welfare and Research, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh

4 Centre for Disability in Development, Savar, Bangladesh

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BMC International Health and Human Rights 2012, 12:18  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-12-18

Published: 19 September 2012



About half a billion people with disabilities in developing countries have limited access to assistive technology. The Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities requires governments to take measures to ensure provision of such technologies. To guide implementation of these measures there is a need for understanding health outcomes from a human rights perspective. The objective of this study was therefore to explore the relation between assistive technology use and enjoyment of human rights in a low-income country.


Data was collected in eight districts of Bangladesh through interviews of people with hearing impairments using and not using hearings aids, and people with ambulatory impairments using and not using manual wheelchairs (N = 583). Using logistic regression, self-reported outcomes on standard of living, health, education, work, receiving information and movement were analyzed.


The adjusted likelihood of reporting greater enjoyment of human rights was significantly higher among people using hearing aids compared to non-users for all outcomes except working status. Compared to non-users, users of wheelchairs reported a significantly higher adjusted likelihood of good ambulatory performance and a significantly lower adjusted likelihood of reporting a positive working status. Further analyses indicated that physical accessibility to working places and duration of wheelchair use had a statistically significant impact on the likelihood of reporting positive work outcomes.


The findings support the notion that assistive technology use increases the likelihood of human rights enjoyment, particularly hearing aid use. Physical accessibility should always be addressed in wheelchair provision.