County Council in U.K. Produces Interactive Guide to Assistive Technology

UNITED KINGDOM: Hertfordshire County Council has produced a visual guide to demonstrate how assistive technology can be used inside and outside the home to aid independent living.

Graphic of a house and a car

The interactive guide allows the user to click on different parts of a ‘technology house’ to view examples of devices and solutions that can be installed or worn.

Examples include a flood detector in the bathroom, a chair occupancy sensor in the lounge and a fire safety stove guard in the kitchen.

Outside the home, the guide demonstrates how devices can detect falls, sense the opening and closing of a front door and alert carers in an emergency.

On publishing the guide, the council explained how technology has the power to transform many aspects of daily life.

“Some items are designed to stand alone. Others can link directly to a carer or family member or are connected to a team of trained advisors in a monitoring centre who will ensure appropriate support is provided, giving peace of mind to residents and their family and carers,” the council said.

“Many people would like to plan ahead to maintain their own independence. The webpage guides to reliable sources where you can find out what would meet individual requirements and where these could be obtained. Assistive technology might also be provided in some cases, following an assessment.”

Mada Assistive Technology Centre Signs MoU with Korea Trade Promotion Agency

QATAR: Mada, the assistive technology centre Qatar, has signed with Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) a memorandum of understanding and co-operation during the Qatar-Korean Business Forum, which kicked off yesterday.
The signing ceremony was attended by HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, and the Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea Sung Yun-mo.

two people seated on a table and signing agreements Two people standing behind them on a stage.

MoU signing ceremony between Mada and Korea trade promotion agency

The agreement, which was signed by CEO of Mada, Maha al-Mansouri, and the Executive Vice-President of KOTRA, SangMook Kim, establishes a co-operation between the two institutions in the field of development of innovations related to digital accessibility and assistive technology, providing a space for Korean innovations at Mada Innovation Lab, as well as promoting the latest technologies and their endorsement from Mada’s side.
This is part of Mada’s co-operation with various partners and innovators to develop a supportive ecosystem to create technological solutions that promote digital accessibility for people with disabilities and the elderly.
The two sides also agreed on co-operation in the field of research and studies. This agreement comes within the framework of Mada Center with various partners and innovators to develop an ecosystem that supports the creation of technological solutions that promote digital access for people with disabilities and the elderly and help provide solutions to the challenges facing these groups,CEO of Mada Maha al-Mansouri said.
This agreement is to support people with disabilities in the Arab world and not only within Qatar as these technological solutions will be appropriate for the challenges facing the Arab countries with disabilities, she added.Under this agreement, the parties will establish a joint committee that meet periodically for follow-up, planning, implementation and evaluation of the scope of work of this agreement.
Mada Centre is a private institution for public benefit, which was founded in 2010 as an initiative that aims at promoting digital inclusion and building a technology-based community that meets the needs of persons with functional limitations (PFLs), persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly.

Originally Published on MENAFN

National Institute for Assistive Technology to be Established in Chattisgarh

INDIA: The Indian state of Chhattisgarh will soon have a national institute for assistive technology and support centre for people with disabilities. Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot on Thursday agreed to the demand made by Social Welfare Minister Anila Bhediya for setting up a National institute for assistive technology and support centre in Raipur.

 The Social Welfare Minister also demanded setting up centres for identification of disabilities while addressing the third meeting of Central Advisory Board on Disability at Vigyan Bhawan here. The meeting was organised by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. She informed the gathering about programmes and schemes being run by the Chhattisgarh government for persons with disabilities. She said that the state has increased reservation for persons with disabilities from 6 to 7 per cent, which is the highest in the country.
Appreciating the state’s decision to provide one per cent reservation to persons with special intellectual disability, the Gehlot said other states too should emulate the initiative. The Social Welfare Minister said that Chhattisgarh government is committed towards empowering persons with disabilities by providing skill development and self employment opportunities to them.

India: Assistive Technology for All 2030 Conference Focuses in Infrastructure, Assistive Devices

KARNATAKA, INDIA: Suggestions, including a university, for solutions such as assistive technologies and creating zones for the people with disabilities were made at the national conference on ‘Assistive Technology for All-2030’ which began here on Friday.

At the inaugural event of a two-day conference by Mobility India to celebrate its silver jubilee, the Karnataka commissioner for persons with disabilities V S Basavaraju rued that the disability sector lacks infrastructure. Underlining the need for collective efforts, Basavaraju said the assistive devices should be available at affordable prices.

Today, if you want to reach people, the only way is to produce good quality affordable assistive devices, which can be used by not just NGOs or professionals but by anybody, Bavaraju said adding, Today if you walk into any medical store, these should be available. The commissioner suggested a project wherein a two-km-radius in and around Mobility Indias Bengaluru office can be completely accessible place for everybody.

We need to come out with a project that actually changes the way people with disability are thinking about themselves and the society thinking about them because a project like this can bring a huge shift in the way we are thinking today,” he said. Speaking on the occasion, the communication and political advisor of the International Committee of the Red Cross Surinder Singh Oberoi regretted that most of the artificial intelligence-related devices were costly.

He insisted that these equipment be made available for the last mile in the rural areas. He said he wished to see Mobility India, which works for the disabled, turn into a university.

I would like to see Mobility India turning from a training institution into a university.  This is the institution, which is giving 100 per cent jobs,” Oberoi added. Vice-chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences Dr S Sacchidanand appreciated the idea of creating zones which are friendly for the people with disability and turning Mobility India into a university.

Originally Published in The Week

New Report: How Assistive Technology Can Support and Transform the Social Care Sector

Learning disability charity Hft has partnered with Tunstall Healthcare, a specialist in connected healthcare solutions, to release a new report on how assistive technology can support and transform the social care sector.

healthcare-technology

The report looks at the untapped potential of assistive technology and how it can support disabled people, increase independence and free up carers to focus on more meaningful support. It also highlights how assistive technology could help bridge the disability employment gap and get more disabled people into work.

Hft says that with social care funding in crisis and with care needs and demands growing, the realisation of the potential of assistive technology could revolutionise the way care is delivered, bringing about helpful changes for healthcare professionals and users alike.

Gavin Bashar, Managing Director UK & Ireland of Tunstall Healthcare, said: “Assistive technology can make a positive difference to people with all kinds of learning disabilities, and in a variety of living environments. From managing risks such as fires or falling, to aiding communication and helping to deliver greater privacy or dignity, technology can enable people to have more control over the way they live their lives.

“Not only can technology enhance more traditional care solutions by managing risk in the home environment, it can also connect people with their wider community, with mobile devices which enable users to travel to work and leisure activities, and can increase social inclusion.

“Realising the potential of technology solutions to change the lives of people with learning disabilities is vital, enabling new models of care which are more personcentred, preventative and sustainable.”

Read the full report titled ‘Improving outcomes, enhancing care: Assistive technologies and the case for a Sector Deal for the learning disability sector.’

Originally Published on ATT Today

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.