Using Assistive Technology to it’s full Potential for Children in Hospices

A UK charity recently welcomed children’s hospice staff from across the British Isles to a free conference to learn about the potential impacts of assistive technology on life-limited and disabled children.

Lifelites donates and maintains assistive technology for children and young people in every children’s hospice across the British Isles. Part of their work is to provide free training and technical support to the care staff to encourage them to use the technology to its full potential for the children they care for.

Heavenly and mum Kellie with one of the Lifelites iPads

Heavenly and mum Kellie with one of the Lifelites iPads

The charity focuses on using technology to give these children opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have to play, be creative, control something for themselves, and communicate, for as long as it is possible. The technology ranges from highly specialist equipment like the Eyegaze, to more conventional equipment like iPads, which they develop with accessories and software to be more suitable for children with a range of special needs.

The fully booked conference, which is now in its 11th year, was an opportunity for over 50 staff to network, share best practice, experiment with the technology on offer and think about its possible applications for the children they work with.

Every second counts for these children and their families, so one of the sessions focused on using the iMovie software to record precious memory videos which their families can treasure forever. Delegates were also shown how the equipment, which is lightweight and portable, can be used when visiting patients in the community.

As well as hearing from representatives of the charity themselves, delegates were given the opportunity to play with the new Xbox Adaptive Controller, as part of a talk from Hector Minto, the Technical Evangelist from Microsoft. The Adaptive Controller is the first mainstream gaming controller which is fully adaptable and can be used by people with disabilities. Lifelites donates them to every children’s hospice across the British Isles, along with other games controllers, consoles and games.

Delegates also heard from the charity’s patron, Sarah Ezekiel, who has Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Sarah discovered she had MND when she was pregnant with her first child, and struggled to come to terms with her diagnosis, particularly when she lost her ability to communicate. Since discovering Eyegaze, her life has changed and she is keen to show others the benefit of the technology. She is passionate about the impact it can have on the children Lifelites supports and spoke to delegates about how it has completely changed her life and allowed her to become an artist.

Simone Enefer-Doy, chief executive of Lifelites said: “We do our best to conduct in depth research on a range of assistive technologies so that we can provide the very best for children in hospices. However, there is limited benefit if this technology is provided without the proper training and support, which is why we work hard to provide this for free for all children’s hospice staff. The care they provide is incredible, and our job is to support them in that care by providing the tools to give these children the ability to do things they never dreamed of. The conference is a wonderful opportunity to meet them all and share our knowledge.”

Conference delegates told Lifelites how much of an impact the conference, and the charity’s work, has:

Aly Moore, said: “This is my third year attending and it’s always a fantastic day. It gives us new ideas and refreshes our memory about how we can get the best out of the equipment.”

Marc Viera, another delegate said: “I can’t imagine doing my job without Lifelites equipment. Lifelites is amazing. Thank you so much.”

You can watch a video to find out more about the day here.

To find out more about the work that Lifelites does, take a look at their website: www.lifelites.org 

IT dept, Austrian academy join hands to develop assistive technology

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, INDIA: In its effort to provide assistive technology to people with motor disabilities, International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an organization under state IT department, will collaborate with AsTeRICS Academy in Austria.

The European academy will support ICFOSS in developing its capabilities in a range of assistive tools to support individuals with mobility disabilities for using computers and other electronic equipment.

An Austrian group consisting of two technologists from the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien is currently in the city in connection with Swatantra 2017, the two-day triennial free software conference being organized by ICFOSS. The team will lead a workshop from Monday at ICFOSS in Technopark for assembling and production of various products they have developed.

“This will be a milestone in Kerala’s efforts in using assistive technology for the welfare of the masses, especially marginalized sections of the society,” said IT secretary M Shivasankar. “ICFOSS is poised to take a lead in this regard and it has already established a research facility jointly with College of Engineering Trivandrum,” he added.

One of such technologies is FlipMouse that acts as an alternative input device for challenged people who prefer or need other input variants than a standard computer mouse or keyboard. Using a FlipMouse, keyboard and mouse activities can be created via slightest finger or mouth interaction. This enables precise control of computer mouse or keyboard actions. Click activities can be created via sip and puff activities, or by attaching external switches to the device. This can be used to control wheelchairs, play games on computers and other activities.

“These technologies and products will be offered to ICFOSS as a do-it-yourself construction kit,” said ICFOSS director Jayashankar Prasad. “This will help us in the production of the equipment at very low cost,” he added.

Source: Times of India

Disability and engineering communities pair up for assistive technology hackathon

CALGARY, ALBERTA:  TOM: Alberta, a subsidiary of Kadima Dynamics, just concluded their third annual makeathon event. Local engineers and designers worked with people living with disabilities to create open-source solutions for everyday challenges. 15 multidisciplinary teams from Calgary worked together for a continuous 72 hours from August 24-27 to produce functional prototypes. The teams had access to fabrication equipment, materials, prototyping budgets, as well as guidance and mentorship from experienced designers.

engineers and designers worked with people with disabilities to create functional prototypes wheelchairThe event was valuable to technical participants, or ‘makers’, who may be experts in their domain but disconnected from challenges faced in the community. Partnering with the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Calgary created a pipeline for highly-skilled trainees and faculty members in fields such as biomechanics and bioinstrumentation to give back. David Garrett, who together with his team developed a wireless adapter solution for monitoring blood-glucose levels in diabetic children reports that he’s “Gotten to know the human aspect rather than just looking at the technical aspect when trying to find a solution.”

Other solutions developed at the event include a footcare device for individuals with spina bifida, a pressure sore prediction device for wheelchair users, a distraction-free communication device for young children with autism, and a treadcycle for bitransfemoral amputees.

Participants also learned about societal challenges posed by disability. Gail Hvenegaard, that worked on a specialized bike that would enable her to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease recalls, “I don’t think I realized how much being disabled in this culture makes you feel like you’re asking for special privileges.”

TOM is an Israel-based global organization that facilitates grassroots events like this one around the globe. ‘Tikkun Olam’ is a Hebrew concept that means “repairing the world”. Since its founding in 2014, TOM makeathons have come to San Francisco, Sao Paolo, Tel Aviv, and Saigon.

15 functional prototypes were developed at the makeathon, that have since been made open-source through TOM’s repository. Refinement and support of these prototypes is accomplished by a year-round community based at the University of Calgary, University Campus Ability Network, or UCan, a partnership between TOM:Alberta and Students’ Union Wellness Center. Individuals interested in getting involved should visit tomcalgary.com or e-mail tom@kadimadynamics.com.

 

Summit on Global Research, Innovation and Education in Assistive Technology

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Assistive technology – which groups together assistive products spanning from eye glasses and wheelchairs to sophisticated automated systems – is a critical and cost-effective tool that can enable full participation in daily life for millions of people. However, only 1 in 10 people in need have access to assistive products and no country in the world has a national policy exclusively focused on assistive technology.

Person with vision disability using computer with braille display and a computer keyboard. To address this gap, WHO is holding the inaugural Global Research, Innovation, and Education in Assistive Technology (GREAT) Summit on 3–4 August, gathering more than 150 of the world’s top researchers, innovators, and educators in the field.

The GREAT Summit aims to further the global assistive technology research agenda, and to establish research collaborations, accelerate innovative education and certification, and showcase groundbreaking developments in assistive technology.

The GREAT Summit is an initiative of the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE), created by WHO in 2014 to spur progress towards a world where everyone in need has access to high quality, affordable assistive technology to lead healthy and productive lives.

Program for Assistive Technology Conference Announced

RESNA’s 2017 ConferenceAT Innovations Across the Lifespan, will offer over 50 workshop presentations on best practices in assistive technology over three days, June 28, 29, and 30.

RESNA 2017: Annual Conference Banner

Workshop topics include:

  • Cognitive and Sensory Impairments
  • Computer Applications and Communications
  • Emerging Technology
  • International Appropriate Technology
  • Job & Environmental Accommodations, including Ergonomics
  • Public Policy and Advocacy
  • Seating and Mobility, including Complex Rehab Technology
  • Service Delivery and Outcomes

Pre-Conference Sessions: June 26 & 27

A separate fee is required for all pre-conference education sessions. The sessions are:

  • RESNA’s Fundamentals in Assistive Technology(Two-day course, June 26 & 27): RESNA’s Fundamentals course is for those new to the industry, as well as professionals who wish to broaden their knowledge base. This course provides an overview of numerous areas of assistive technology, using multiple case studies to illustrate principles of assistive technology provision. (1.4 CEUs)
  • IC#1 Full Day: Workflow automation: creating efficiencies for computer users with disabilities(0.75 CEUs): During this hands-on course, you will create software shortcuts to automate repetitive tasks. These shortcuts significantly increase productivity for anybody — but particularly for people with physical, sensory, motor, and learning disabilities. Topics: – Fundamentals of keyboard access to Windows. (Essential skills for computer access specialists.) – Macro Express and AutoHotkey. – Keyboard remapping, e.g., add a “Tab” key to the right side of the keyboard, or “Backspace” to the left side. – Software customization, e.g., add hotkeys and clickable objects to standard applications. – Super shortcuts: Workflow automation using all the techniques introduced in this course.
  • IC#2 Full Day: Becoming An Assistive Technology “Maker” – A Hands-on Fabrication Workshop*  (0.75 CEUs): The “Makers Movement” continues to gain moment nationally. Local, state and regional “maker spaces” are popping up across the country in order to fabricate device and products in a timely fashion. This workshop embraces rapid fabrication techniques using an assortments of sustainable and reusable materials for creation of assistive technology devices that can be used in multiple ways to maximize independence at home, work, school, and play. This hands-on fabrication workshop will discuss, demonstrate and provide participants with new tools, materials, and techniques for fabricating hundreds of assistive technology devices in minutes. In addition, participants will fabricate six different multiuse devices.
    *Required:Essential Supplies Fee $30
  • IC#3 Full Day: The essence of the WHO Wheelchair Service Training Package- Basic Level(0.75 CEUs): The International Society of Wheelchair Professionals developed a combined online and in-person training, the Hybrid Course, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Wheelchair Service Training Package – Basic Level. The purpose of the Hybrid is to decrease the cost of training and increase the number of people trained worldwide. The Hybrid was piloted in India, Mexico, Colombia, and the USA and proved to be an effective approach in increasing knowledge on basic wheelchair provision. This instructional course was designed to be suitable for pre-conferences and reach participants interested in updating their skills and knowledge according to the WHO guidelines.
  • IC#4 Full Day: An Advanced IC on Seating and Mobility TBA(0.75 CEUs): TBA
  • IC#5 Half Day Morning: The EADL Experience(0.375 CEUs): Electronic Aids to Daily Living (EADL) offer Patients  enhanced independence, quality of life, and safety. Unfortunately these systems can be expensive, involve a complex installation, and are not covered by insurance. For these reasons it can be difficult to trial and recommend the most appropriate EADL systems for Patients. This Instructional course will provide a detailed overview of traditional EADL systems and consumer electronic solutions. Additionally, participants will be given the opportunity for hands on setup and usage of various EADL systems related to specific case studies.
  • IC#6 Half Day Morning: Speech Recognition as AT for Writing: A Guide for K12 Education(0.375 CEUs): While the technological challenges of speech recognition (SR) have been overcome in the last ten years through the power of cloud computing, the pedagogical challenge of teaching K-12 students to use SR for writing has not been adequately addressed. A scaffolded teaching approach is needed. This intensive course unpacks SR through the lens of the AT process. Our motto is “You don’t know until you try it!” Consideration leads directly to 8 scaffolded steps for teaching SR to children. Assessment strategies are  embedded in each teaching step to document effectiveness. Implementation and progress monitoring strategies round out the AT process.
  • IC#7 Half Day Afternoon: Measurement Approaches and Tools for the Accessibility of the Built Environment(0.375 CEUs): Numerous assessments exist to measure accessibility of built environments, both residential and public. Comprehensive assessment is a complex process integrating how space is used along with design elements for optimal function. This instructional course provides a history of accessibility assessment, a review of current and developing assessments, and hands-on opportunities to trial current tools and preview state-of-the-science products designed for mobile devices. A group of experts in accessibility and universal design assessment will lead discussions around practical implications of inter-professional teams and collaborations with different stakeholders. Take home materials specifically designed for this course will be provided.
  • IC#8 Half Day Afternoon: Hands-On With 3D Design and Printing for Assistive Technology: Learn From 4 Expert Users in The Field(0.375 CEUs): This instructional course provides a hands-on introduction to 3D design & printing with examples from AT for ADLs, seating, toys and prosthetics. Low cost options for design software, 3D scanning and 3D printing will be discussed and  a large hands-on period will allow trialing of this technology. Attendees will be able to describe how 3D printing works, list use cases in ADL tech, seating, adaptive toys & prosthetics, justifications for using 3D printing and low cost ways to access 3D design & printing.

 

GAATES Participating at the Assistive Technology Conference in Sharjah

SHARJAH, UAE: The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) is participating in International Conference on Assisitive Technology 2017 (AT TOPIA), March 9-11, in Sharjah, UAE to discuss Assistive Technology for persons with disabilities and older people and it’s future development based on their needs.

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(From Left) Tagreed Alzubaidi, Aqeel Qureshi, Mukhtar Al Shibani, Hedi Awichawi

This conference is organized by the Sharjah City for Humanitarian.

The conference aims to raise awareness among persons with disabilities, their families, professionals, and educators regarding Assistive Technology in the region.

Experts in Assistive Technology are participating in the conference from the UAE and internationally.

Assistive Technology Conference AT TOPIA in Sharjah

SHARJAH, UAE: The Assistive Technology Conference AT TOPIA 2017, which will take place in Sharjah, UAE, March 9-11, 2017 at the Sharjah Expo Center, organized by Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services.

Assistive Technology Conference AT TOPIA 2017 Banner

The coference will provide the opportunity to present latest international evidence-based practices in the field of assistive technology.

The conference aims to raise awareness among persons with disabilities, their families, professionals, and educators regarding Assistive Technology. Moreover, it will offer professional development opportunities through specialized workshops with hands-on experience, besides demonstrating latest assistive technology devices and tools.

Experts in Assistive Technology will participate in the conference from the UAE and internationally.

For more information, go to www.schs.ae\attopia

32nd Annual Conference on Assistive Technology

Thousands of people from around the globe are expected to return to San Diego later this month to participate in the world’s largest event dedicated to presenting and exploring new ways technology can assist people with disabilities.

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The latest assistive technology at the CSUN Conference is for all ages, from young to old, and can help by educating, making the workplace or home accessible, and assisting in daily living. Photo: Christopher Robertson

California State University, Northridge’s 32nd annual conference has adopted a new name and brand — the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference — to highlight the true nature of the event (it was formerly known as the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference). The conference is scheduled to take place from Feb. 27-March 4 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.

People with disabilities make up the largest group of attendees and “are the reason we all gather to push the research and challenge industry professionals to keeping moving technology forward and to tackle new challenges,” said Sandy Plotin, managing director of CSUN’s Center on Disabilities, which organizes the conference each year.

The “CSUN Conference,” as it is known in the industry, is the only one of its kind sponsored by a university. It provides a unique opportunity for people with disabilities to have direct input on the creation of — or modifications to — assistive technologies intended to make their lives easier, such as wheelchairs, interactive software and apps.

“Our conference brings together thousands of people from around the world — including scientists, practitioners, educators, government officials, tech industry executives and entrepreneurs — all committed to driving innovation in assistive technology to promote inclusiveness for people with disabilities,” Plotin said.

The conference explores all aspects of technology and disabilities, and features a faculty of internationally recognized speakers, more than 350 general session workshops and more than 130 exhibitors displaying the latest technology for people with disabilities. This year’s sold-out exhibit floor has added a variety of first-time exhibitors from all different facets of assistive technology and services. The CSUN conference Exhibit Hall is open to the public, free of charge.

Throwing a spotlight on the research generated by the conference, organizers will publish “Journal on Technology and People with Disabilities,” which features proceedings from the conference’s science and research track. This year will mark the journal’s fifth edition.

Dr. Kellie Lim, a physician at UCLA Health specializing in the field of allergy and immunology, will give the conference’s keynote address at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.  Born and raised in Michigan to a Chinese immigrant family, Lim has firsthand experience in the difficulty of accessing medical care, especially for those with severe physical disabilities and limited resources.

At age 8, Lim contracted bacterial meningitis that led to life-threatening sepsis. The infection caused widespread damage to her body. She underwent amputations of her legs, right arm, and several fingers of the left hand. Lim had to re-learn basic daily activities, such as eating with utensils, writing and walking.

The experience inspired Lim to pursue a career in medicine. She had to convince schools that she was capable of mastering the rigors of a medical education. She completed her medical training at UCLA, including a residency program in pediatrics and a fellowship program in the medical specialty field allergy and immunology. Lim also completed a fellowship in clinical pharmacology and a master’s degree in clinical research.

The conference’s annual Strache Leadersehip award will be given to University of Colorao at Boulder computer science professor Clayton Lewis, to recognize his work in education and research in the field of disabilities. Lewis will receive the honor at the keynote address on Feb. 28.

Lewis’ research has contributed to cognitive assistive technology, programming language design, educational technology, and cognitive theory in causal attribution and learning.

For more information about the conference or how to register, visit CSUN’s Center on Disabilities website at http://www.csun.edu/cod/conference/index.php or call the center at (818) 677-2578 V/TTY.

California State University, Northridge has a long history of involvement in many aspects of assisting people with disabilities, dating back to 1961, when the university was known as San Fernando Valley State College. This precedes Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In 1983, university officials created the Center on Disabilities to directly help students to realize their academic and career goals. To that end, CSUN launched the technology and people with disabilities conference.

Over the years, the conference has grown to about 5,000 participants, with presenters and exhibitors sharing devices, services and programs. Participants come from all 50 states, numerous territories and more than 35 countries. It has an international reputation for expanding the knowledge base of professionals and introducing newcomers to the field.

Third Annual Assistive Technology Conference – Feb 17

MACOMB, IL: Western Illinois University will host the third annual Assistive Technology Conference from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 in Horrabin Hall, room 1.

Conference BannerThe conference is presented by Infinite Potential Through Technology (INFINITEC) and sponsored by the WIU Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the Council for Exceptional Children and a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education. There is no registration fee, and free parking is available.

The conference schedule includes:

  • 8-9:45 a.m. – Overview of Assistive Technology for Reading and Writing: Under IDEA 2004, there are five areas that must be considered for students with disabilities. While most are related to a specific disability (e.g., visual impairment or behavior), only one of the five must be considered for all students, regardless of the type or severity of disability: Assistive Technology. Whether it is communication, access to the computer and curriculum, writing, reading, mobility or activities of daily living, this presentation will highlight how and when technologies become assistive technology. An overview will be provided of the legal requirements related to assistive technology, as well as define assistive technology device and assistive technology service. In addition, the new Illinois Assistive Technology Guidance Manual and technical support website will be shared. This presentation will introduce participants to a continuum of assistive technology tools to support reading and writing.
  • 10-11:45 a.m. – Web Resources to Build Your Universal Design for Learning Tool Kit (For Elementary Students): This hands-on presentation will introduce participants to websites and web tools that support Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The three basic tenants of UDL, multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression and multiple means of engagement will be defined in terms of the practical application of the internet. These web-based supports will include reading, writing and math for your elementary students.
  • 11:45-1 p.m. – Lunch break – Participants will be responsible for finding their own lunch.
  • 1-3 p.m. Socially and Emotionally Prepared – Strategies to Teach Social/Emotional Skills: This training will provide strategies and supports for students who have difficulty demonstrating age appropriate social skills and may become emotional. Technology resources and examples will be included.

Six CPDUs will be available free for all professional participants.

To register for the conference, visit goo.gl/zd4VL9.

UM Showcases Assistive Technology to International Fellows

MISSOULA: Nine fellows from Laos, as part of SportsUnited, learned about assistive technology during their visit to the University of Montana in November.

MonTECH, housed in UM’s Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities, hosted the visit in partnership with the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at UM.

As part of their on-campus experience, the fellows toured MonTECH’s demonstration lab and learned about the assistive technology resources available to Montanans. The fellows became acquainted with the assistive technology in MonTECH’s lab, while learning about efforts to make many aspects of life as accessible as possible for people with disabilities.

The fellows learned about vision, computer access and communication technology, and screen-reading technology for smart phones and computers. They saw the use of the technology to share stories through pictures. That idea hit home deeply for many of them, especially since most do not speak English well and were experiencing what it felt like to not be understood for the first time in their lives while traveling here.

“It was amazing for them to see how far technological assistance has come and to see all of the possibilities out there helped to break a lot of internal barriers they had about their ability to assist those with disabilities in their home communities,” said Mansfield Career Administrator Shanti Johnson. “MonTECH staff was excited to support the Mansfield Center fellows and to be stewards of the idea that making things accessible isn’t just important, it can also be fun and intellectually stimulating.”

For more information on the international fellows visit, call Goldman at 406-534-5769 or email anna-margaret.goldman@mso.umt.edu.