2nd AAATE online Aperitivo – new vision, new mission and updates from AAATE members in Denmark, Austria, the US, Lithuania and Croatia

AAATE introduced the new online Aperitivo format to create a platform for our members to stay in touch, exchange news, get updates from the associations and find opportunities for collaborating and working together.

In this 2nd edition held on 25 February, our president Katerina Mavrou shared AAATE’s new vision and mission statement, which completed by a list of core values, clearly frames the association’s purpose and activities going forward.

AAATE’s vision:

We envision an inclusive society where assistive and accessible mainstream technologies and universally designed products and services have levelled differences between people in terms of access to opportunities to live the lives they desire. 

AAATE wants to be an active player and interdisciplinary collaborative platform uniting organisations and individuals that want to collaborate in making that vision come true.

More details on the mission and the list of core values can be consulted on our homepage at www.aaate.net.

Our Secretary General Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf shared with us the list of upcoming virtual workshops on emerging technologies in collaboration with GAATO and WIPO (1), and explained the newly introduced collaboration tool for members that will allow to form tasks-forces on topics of interest that come together for a “sprint” of 6-9 months with the intention to result in tangible outcomes such as a policy paper, guidelines, action plan etc.

Then we had the pleasure of six members taking the stage to bring us updates on their activities and address requests for input to the AAATE community.  

Updates from our members

Greta Olsson is Specialty Consultant at Denmark’s National Board of Social Services. She works on standards for assistive products and accessibility, development of templates for requirement specifications for assistive products and contributes to Denmark’s AssistData database (https://hmi-basen.dk/en).

Request to AAATE members: Greta is looking for experts with paediatric experience that could contribute to the development of a standard for medical beds for children. (Contact Greta via the AAATE intranet or ask Evert-Jan or Sabine for the contact details).

More detailed information can be found in Greta’s presentation.

Greta is also an active member of the Strategic Advisory Group on Accessibility (SAGA) and contributed to the work on Mandate 473 which included the identification of prioritized standardization areas most urgent for people with disabilities and older persons, including “Electrical and electronical equipment/household appliances”.

This was helpful information to Christian Vogelauer from the Austrian Association in Support of the Blind and Visually Impaired (Hilfsgemeinschaft) who is currently working on creating a list of basic requirements for accessible home appliances. As these devices get smarter, they often also get rather less accessible, and there is a strong need in the market to be able to identify those appliances that are usable for persons with disabilities.

Since this topic touches many stakeholders, it would indeed be a candidate for a first AAATE sprint in the new collaboration format.

Request to AAATE members: If you have experience and/or interest in accessibility requirements for smart home appliances, get in touch with the Hilfsgemeinschaft (via the AAATE intranet or ask Evert-Jan or Sabine for the contact details).

Gregg Vanderheiden, Professor at the University of Maryland and co-founder of the Raising the Floor association presented Morphic – an interface that makes accessibility features built into ICT devices such as computers and tablets easier to find through the MorphicBar, where users can find their most frequently used functions available any time with the simple click of a button.

Request to AAATE members: Members are invited to go to https://morphic.org, download the interface and give Gregg feedback on its use (via the AAATE intranet or ask Evert-Jan or Sabine for the contact details).

Vaida Gudeliūnaitė works for the Lithuania Technical Aid Centre, the main provider for assistive technology in Lithuania. People come with the prescriptions from their doctors and the Centre helps them fill those. Vaida is interested in improving the quality of service to their users and also to expand the list of AT they can offer, transforming their service model towards home service and home assessment.

Request to AAATE members: Vaida is interested in exchanging with other members about AT service delivery models and effective AT lists. (You can get in touch with Vaida via the AAATE intranet or ask Evert-Jan or Sabine for the contact details).

Paul Panek is senior scientist at the Vienna University of Technology. His research focus is human-centred technology and he presented the concept for a motorized toilet that adapts in height to the user and can also support the user in sitting down and getting back up. This kind of toilet would be appropriate for publicly accessible toilets in restaurants, facilities and similar. More details on the project can be found here: http://toiletforme.com/

Request to AAATE members: Paul invites members who are interested in more accessible toilets to get in touch to create a network of interested stakeholders to continue the work on this concept. (You can get in touch with Paul via the AAATE intranet or ask Evert-Jan or Sabine for the contact details).

Our round of member updates closed with news from Renata Pinjatela from the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences (ERF) of the University of Zagreb. Renata focuses on methods of working with people with motor disorders and chronic diseases and the application of assistive and rehabilitation technology in education and rehabilitation. She is currently coordinating two projects, which aim to establish a protocol for AT assessment, procurement, and financial support, and to provide guidelines for all those services that users, experts and government agencies responsible for AT in Croatia need.

Request to AAATE members: Renata is happy to be contacted by anyone who wants to know more details about these projects or is active in similar areas and would like to exchange information and experiences. (You can get in touch with Renata via the AAATE intranet or ask Evert-Jan or Sabine for the contact details).

Many thanks to our members for these updates! We hope that they may be the ground for further exchange and future collaborations in the AAATE community.

The next AAATE online Aperitivo will be held on 29 April, 16:15 CEST. We will open doors at 16:00 for people coming in at their own pace and joining us for small talk, before kicking off at 16:15. We hope to see you there!

(1) More information on the virtual workshop series: https://aaate.net/2021/02/25/virtual-workshops-series-on-emerging-assistive-technology/