Evaluating Assistive Technologies in Colombia

Colombian society has been afflicted for a long period of time by an internal conflict and high levels of violence. As a result, a significant amount of the population suffers from some form of physical disability which combined with high levels of poverty and difficult access to assistive technologies places them in a situation of discrimination. In this project, our objective is to characterise the needs of the population with motor disabilities in Cali, Colombia and to evaluate technological solutions for restoring mobility and handling capabilities.

Although there are already some studies that aimed to identify these needs, they don’t address specific needs of the population of developing countries (e.g. levels of poverty, social inclusion barriers, among others). To do this, we built upon the expertise of one EPFL research laboratory (CNBI) on the field of neuroprosthetics and the experience of Colombian partners on the use of a multidisciplinary approach to identify the requirements of assistive solutions taking into account not only functional features but other characteristics such as perceptual, adaptability and usability factors associated with the products.

This approach relies on the involvement of all stakeholder: engineers, psychologist, therapists, and most importantly the target users (i.e. people with disabilities and their families). It has been successfully applied in a previous project led by PUJ aimed at the design of a device for assisted mobility. This project—named ANDAR and funded by the main financial research support in Colombia, Colciencias- involved two Colombian partners (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and Universidad del Valle, Cali) and one Spanish university (U. Politécnica de Valencia).

This work was supported by the Seed Money program of the Cooperation & Development Center (CODEV) at EPFL (2012-2013), the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), Latin America Seed money program (2015-2016), and Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, seccional Cali (since 2012).


  • CNBI, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL, Switzerland
  • Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, seccional Cali, Colombia
  • Universidad del Valle Cali, Colombia
  • Centro de Rehabilitación, Surgir. Cali, Colombia
  • Atem Healthcare, Cali, Colombia