Passport to inclusion called for at AT Assembly

November 17 2017, 10:33am


Ireland’s first national assembly on assistive technology, AT, took place on Nov.16th, 2017, at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

A capacity crowd representing industry, academia, AT users and people with disabilities heard calls for the introduction of an “AT Passport” . It is seen as the best solution to the challenge of providing quality, person centred AT services.

The FreedomTech Assembly was run by Enable Ireland and the Disability Federation of Ireland, DFI, along with support from Maynooth University and Microsoft. 

“This is a critical time for AT services,” said Joan O’Donnell, Development Officer with DFI. “Technology is changing rapidly. The biggest opportunities of our time lie in Artificial Intelligence, robotics and driverless vehicles all of which have huge accessibility potential. We are calling on Government to create a systems-wide approach. We need to put assistive technology in the hands of those who most need it, people with disabilities and older people. 

Enable Ireland intends to introduce the trial use of AT passports with their adult users in Dublin in 2018. Siobhán Long, Enable Ireland’s National Manager AT Services commented, “An AT passport would capture all of the key elements that are essential for people who need AT to get it: from referral and eligibility to selection of the most suitable Assistive Technology solutions, as well as training requirements, funding and follow up.”

She told the Assembly of a case study where smart technology was installed in one home, for one user at a cost of 18,500 euro. In just four months this had saved 59,000 euro so AT makes sound economic sense.

Leading AT experts addressed the Assembly including;

  • Hector Minto, Microsoft’s Accessibility Evangelist
  • David Banes, International Assistive Technology Consultant
  • Chapal Khasnabis, Programme Manager at the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE) with the World Health Organisation.

You can watch the presentations from Hector Minto and David Banes on the video section of our Facebook page. Don’t forget to like us while there. 

Chapal Khasnabis, said the AT passport is “quite an innovative idea and if implemented well, could be a foundation stone to a national AT ecosystem."