On behalf of the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE) we are honoured to publish the proceedings of the 10th European Conference for the Advancement of Assistive Technology. After The Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Portugal, Germany, Slovenia, Ireland, France and Spain we are proud to host this conference so that we can all share and benefit from each others' knowledge.
The “Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe” (http://www.aaate.net) is the interdisciplinary pan-European association that devotes itself to all aspects of assistive technology, such as use, research, development, manufacture, supply, provision and policy. Its mission is to stimulate the advancement of assistive technology for the benefit of people with disabilities, including elderly people, through the following main areas of action:
• the creation of an awareness of assistive technology;
• the promotion of research and development of assistive technology;
• the facilitation of an exchange of knowledge within the field;
• the dissemination of information regarding assistive technology and related issues.
As technology develops rapidly and an Information Society is approaching, the concept of Assistive Technology seems to be moving away from adopting the most appropriate device(s) for each user in order to overcome the limitations to her/his activity to the design and set up of the total environment in which people live, supported by suitable functionalities (services) and, when necessary, by additional support devices integrated within the environment. At present, these two perspectives are deeply intertwined, from both a technological and a social point of view. The relationship, coexistence and transition between them currently represent the first challenges for the world of Assistive Technology.
This is coherent with the WHO-ICF modelwhich describes disability as resulting not only from a person's intrinsic attributes but also from the context. Therefore, according to the emerging technological perspectives, inclusion of all citizens can be pursued by the creation of inclusive living environments in which the abilities to carry out necessary tasks are redefined, particularly with reference to the accessing of information, interpersonal communications, and environmental control. From this perspective, this approach is also coherent with the definition of eInclusion, as approved in the 2006 Riga Ministerial Declaration: “e-Inclusion means both inclusive ICT and the use of ICT to achieve wider inclusion objectives”.
The main aim of the 10th European Conference for the Advancement of Assistive Technology is to bridge the gap between these two complementary approaches, by providing an opportunity to clarify the differences and the common points between them and to better define a way for the future.
A non-exhaustive list of relevant discussion topics related to the above transition and covered in the proceedings includes:
• Technological innovation in Assistive Technology;
• The need for interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary approaches to the development of integrated solutions;
• The contribution of Assistive Technology and Design for All towards inclusion;
• Equipment interconnectivity and compatibility, covering hardware, software and wireless, to favour integrated solutions to inclusion;
• The need for standardization (formal, informal and de facto);
• Cultural aspects: e.g. acceptance of different approaches, design and aesthetics of AT devices and inclusive living environments, high tech versus low tech, creative solutions for complex problems;
• Social aspects: penetration of AT and integrated approaches, the role of Europe in building up inclusion competence in emerging and developing countries, etc.;
• Technology transfer, towards not only AT industry, but also mainstream industry.
Pier Luigi Emiliani, General Chairman
Anna-Liisa Salminen, AAATE President