Irish Disability Groups Call For Technology Assistance

Picture courtesy of Braille Smartwatch

The first FreedomTech Assembly takes place in Dublin today. FreedomTech is for all stakeholders committed to developing an effective Assistive Technology (AT) service in Ireland.

Supported by NUI Maynooth and Microsoft and run by Enable Ireland and the Disability Federation of Ireland, those present called on Government to introduce an “AT passport” for people with disabilities and older people.

​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 to prioritise putting assistive technology in the hands of those who most need it: people with disabilities and older people. This not only puts people back in control of their own lives, it makes sound economic sense.”

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 places the individual who requires AT at the centre of the process, so that they can play an active role in identifying and managing their own technology needs.”

​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.”

The AT Passport is proposed as a solution to the challenge of providing quality, person centred AT services that offer value for money and are accountable and transparent. The AT passport would record all the important relevant information about people who need such tools and assist them in getting them from the State more easily as they grow older and their needs change.

“This is quite an innovative idea and if implemented well, could be a foundation stone to a national AT ecosystem. Achieving well-coordinated AT services is a goal which most members of the GATE community internationally share, and we support such a focused approach. We would like to see more such efforts. We look forward to hearing of progress in the implementation of the AT passport.”

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