AAATE 2013 – From Research to Practice
This volume contains the proceedings of the AAATE 2013 conference, the 12th biennial European conference of the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (www.aaate.net). AAATE's mission is “to stimulate the advancement of assistive technology for the benefit of people with disabilities, including elderly people”. Assistive Technology (AT) is an umbrella term indicating any product or technology-based service that enables people of all ages with activity limitations in their daily life, education, work or leisure.
Those that have been associated to the area of AT in Europe for the last two decades might remember that the last of the ECART Conferences – the precursor of the AAATE Conferences - took place in Lisbon, Portugal in 1995. And it was during this ECART Conference that AAATE was officially created. In 2013, commemorating AAATE's 18th anniversary, the AAATE biennial conference is again being held in Portugal, this time at Algarve.
The scientific field of AT is highly interdisciplinary, encompassing all aspects of assistive technology, such as use, research, development, manufacture, supply, provision and policy. One of the main objectives of the AAATE 2013 Conference is to bring together researchers, professionals, manufacturers, end users and their families, and combine their knowledge, expertise, needs and expectations, contributing in a multidisciplinary way to the advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe, from research to practice. With the goal of attracting all AT players to the conference, a Special Session Call for proposals was issued. As a result, 10 Special Sessions were organized parallel to the conference regular sessions:
• Alternative Human Computer Interfaces for People with Motor Disorders
• AT Centres and Service Delivery Issues
• Design for All and Mainstreaming in Ambient Assisted Living - The Role of Networking
• ICT-Based Learning Technologies for Disabled People
• Power Mobility: User experiences and Outcomes
• Predictors, Acceptance and Use of E-health Technology by Older Adults and Professionals
• (Semi-automatic) User Interface Generation
• Standardization within the Assistive Technology Field
• The Development and Implementation of “Remote Care”
• Using the Cloud to Enhance AT
High profile speakers were invited to give plenary talks sharing their knowledge, expertise and experience in different facets of Assistive Technology:
• Al Cook (University of Alberta, Canada) and Alan Newell (University of Dundee, UK) discussed and debated the impact of the increasing percentage of older people on AT development and service delivery;
• Fraser Bathgate (Disabled Divers International) addressed the role of scuba diving in the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, sharing recent research projects findings and his personal experience;
• Inmaculada Placencia Porrero (DG Justice, European Commission) addressed the important subject of “Acessibility in Europe” focusing on European policies for persons with disabilities, namely the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, the implementation of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities at EU level, and the preparation of the European Accessibility Act;
• Karin Astegger (EASPD - European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities) presented the concept of Person Centered Technology as a mean to empower technology users and to achieve effective, high quality, available, and affordable solutions to real needs;
• Sarah Blackstone (Augmentative Communication Inc., USA) proposed to reverse the acronym AAC - Augmentative and Alternative Communication yielding CAA - Communication Access for All to change the field perspective in the face of a time where many individuals, with or without disabilities, are dripping with devices that enable them to communicate easily and effectively almost anywhere, anytime, and with anyone.
Additionally, a session on Global Challenges in AT was organized where representatives from the United Nations, World Health Organization, European Union, AAATE and sister organizations RESNA, RESJA and ARATA, EASPD and from persons with disabilities organizations discussed existing global co-operation initiatives to further AT, and reflected on the needs and challenges, opportunities and difficulties of global co-operation in this field.
The AAATE 2013 conference has received 280 paper submissions from 39 countries in all continents. These papers were all reviewed by at least two of the 135 members of the conference Scientific Board. 182 papers (65%) were accepted and presented for oral presentation, 37 (13%) for poster presentation and 50 (18%) were rejected.
The program for this conference required the dedicated effort of many people. Firstly, we must thank the authors, whose research and development efforts are recorded here. Secondly, we thank the members of the Scientific Committee and the additional reviewers for their diligence and expert reviewing. Thirdly, we thank the keynote speakers for their invaluable contribution and for taking the time to synthesise and prepare their talks, and also the Special Sessions chairs that accepted our challenge to organize a Special Session in their field of expertise. Finally, special thanks to INSTICC - Institute for Systems and Technologies of Information, Control and Communication (www.insticc.org) for accepting the challenge of organizing with us this conference and for their professionalism and competence that allowed us to concentrate only on the scientific aspects of the conference.