Activity-based search for assistive technology

Thematic Area of product / prototype / service: 
Information services / New search tool for AT
Company (if applicable): 
REHADAT, Germany
Description of the product/Prototype/service: 
REHADAT is Germany’s leading online information platform on inclusion, vocational rehabilitation, and assistive technology, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The information services on assistive technology (AT) can be accessed on the internet portal REHADAT-Assistive Products, including a database with more than 12.000 products for everyday life and work that are available on the German market. The aim of the portal is to provide a neutral AT overview, practical information on the provision process, application proceedings and financing to promote the self-determination, rehabilitation and participation of people with disabilities. Provided search options include the navigation via product categories, an advanced database search via keywords and a search along the structure of the International Classification ISO 9999 "Assistive products - Classification and terminology". These previous search methods assume that users already think in terms of product categories or even know what kind of product is needed. A simple approach based on everyday activities was considered beneficial to help people search for assistive products who have no prior knowledge about assistive technology. To improve accessibility to assistive product information for this target group, REHADAT recently developed a new guided search tool relating to everyday activities and situations. In a first step, REHADAT implemented the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and used it as a structure to search for AT. As this approach is still rather complex, an easier and better understandable search for individuals without expertise in ICF and AT was aimed. Consequently, a simple, dialogue-based search tool using everyday language was realised in a second step.
Level of innovation: 
Users can access the assisted search tool via (in German) and choose between five different categories to start with: Working and learning, Moving around, Communicating, Body caring, Living at home and spending leisure time. REHADAT’s digital search assistant Ariadne guides users through the search process by asking questions and proposing a selection of activities, daily situations or tasks they aim to use the assistive products for. After a maximum of five steps, a manageable number of product suggestions that might meet the user's needs are displayed. The tool supports the decision-making process, e.g., at the beginning of an assistive product provision before consulting an AT expert.
Mareike Decker