Objective. In many Countries, national information systems have been created to respond to information needs related to Assistive Technology products and services (AT). Recently the World Alliance of AT Information Providers was created to foster international exchange of experiences among all Institutions responsible for national information systems. Later, a number of Alliance members joined their efforts in a European project that led to the establishment of the EASTIN system (European Assistive Technology Information Network), the first living example of integration of AT information across many countries, languages and health/social systems.
Design. EASTIN is not a database: it is an engine that aggregates the contents of seven independent national databases, each running on a different technological platform. It includes a purpose-made search engine able to perform AT product searches across all these databases in all EU languages; its embedded automatic translation facilities allow to display the search results in all these languages.
Results. The EASTIN engine grants access to some 70.000 products available on the European market and over 5.000 manufacturers / suppliers; it also includes related material such as fact sheets and suggestions on assistive solutions for daily living. Each of the seven EASTIN partners acts as National Contact in its own Country; in other EU Countries, National Contact Organisations have been appointed to take care of the respective language layer agreements, and to answer requests posted by citizens on the EASTIN website.
Conclusions. The EASTIN network is becoming the “golden standard” of AT information in Europe for end users, health care professionals, industrialists, policy makers and researchers; it is having a significant impact on the partners' activities at national level, on the national AT service delivery systems, on the AT industry. Ongoing developments include the improvement of automatic translation capabilities into the various languages, and an improved ability to deliver information on ICT based assistive solutions such as open source products.