Disability devices and technologies maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence to facilitate participation in activities and to enhance overall well-being. These devices also help in preventing impairments and secondary health conditions. Some of the disability devices include wheelchairs, prostheses, visual aids, hearings aids, and specialized computer software and hardware that increase mobility, hearing, vision, or communication capacities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2019 article, in many low and middle-income countries, only 5-15% of people who require disability devices have access to the same. Therefore, dearth of accessibility to disability devices is expected to be a major factor for increasing demand for disability devices in the near future.
The global disability devices market size was valued at US$ 14.5 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach US$ 26.3 billion over the forecast period (2018 – 2026).
Global Disability Devices Market: Drivers
Factors such as rising government initiatives and increasing patient population are the two most significant factors that are driving the disability devices market growth. In 2015, WHO estimated that over one billion people were in need of one or more assistive products such as low-vision devices, wheelchairs or hearing aids globally. However, of these only one in ten people have access to disability devices. In order to address this substantial gap between the need for and provision of assistive technology, WHO is developing a flagship program – Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE) – in partnership with United Nations Agencies, international organizations, donor agencies, professional organizations, academia, and organizations of/for persons with disabilities.
Moreover, manufacturers of disability devices are also actively participating in the development of high-technology approaches to deal with disability in home environment, such as environmental control units, which are becoming increasingly available. For instance, in 2016, Furenexo launched its first product, Sound Sense, which is a hearing aid that resembles a USB stick and fits in a user’s pocket. The device has a small microphone that will pick up noises, including warning sounds such as smoke alarms, horns or sirens.
Various research organizations such as the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) are funding researchers in developing devices that will help people with varying degrees of hearing loss to communicate with others. For instance, in 2012, a team of researchers developed a portable device, wherein two or more users type messages to each other that can be displayed simultaneously in real time. All these factors are expected to drive growth of the disability devices market during the forecast period.
Global Disability Devices Market: Restraints
Despite the high demand for disability devices, high cost of such devices will limit its adoption. According to the WHO, the cost of disability devices consumes a significant portion of household and government budgets. Moreover, the retail prices of disability aids and equipment are substantially higher in some countries than in internet sites. For instance, as per the WHO, a particular branded manual wheelchair advertised on Australian internet site for US$ 2,236 could be purchased from a U.S. internet site for US$ 1,401.
Global Disability Devices Market: Regional Analysis
North America is expected to hold a dominant position in the disability devices market over the forecast period, owing to high usage of disability devices coupled with high affordability rate among regional population. According to the University of California 2019 article, in 2013, over 6.8 million community-resident Americans were using disability devices to help them with mobility. This group comprises 1.7 million wheelchair or scooter riders and 6.1 million users of other mobility devices, such as canes, crutches, and walkers.
Asia Pacific disability devices market size is expected to witness significant growth, owing to large unmet medical need, followed by increasing public and private funding in healthcare sector. According to the Asian Institute of Disability and Development (AIDD), in Bangladesh, child population of 1.2 million has a requirement of 3,500 wheelchairs alone for children with CP (cerebral palsy). Till date, AIDD has distributed 450 wheelchairs, 200 hearing aids, 15,000 spectacles, 1,000 white canes, and other disability devices to children throughout the country as part of its projects. AIDD, in conjunction with major partner Child Sight Foundation (CSF) Global, has been working on developing a custom-built walker for children with disabilities, targeting children with cerebral palsy.
Global Disability Devices Market: Competitive Landscape
Key players operating in the global disability devices market include Cochlear Ltd., MED-EL, GF Health Products, Hearing Health & Technology Matters, LLC, William Demant Holding A/S, Invacare Corporation, Sunrise Medical, Ottobock, Medical Depot, Inc., Pride Mobility Products Corp., Merits Co. Ltd., MEYRA Group, Sonova, GN Resound, and Amplifon S.p.A.
Global Disability Devices Market: Taxonomy
The global disability devices market is segmented on the basis of device type, end user, and region.
By Device Type
By End User