A peep into the future

In August, we were privileged to have a peep into the future as part of I-Create, a global conference held in Canberra, Australia.  I-Create is an international convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology.  An amazing and informative event featuring futuristic ideas to remove barriers for those with disabilities or impairments, we are grateful to New Zealand Federation of Disability Information Centres and Assistive Technology Australia, especially Karen Beard-Greer and Robyn Chapman.

Students showcased their innovative ideas to remove barriers for day to day living for individuals, we listened to keynote speakers inclusive of Paula Tesoriero MNZM – Disabilities Rights Commissioner, New Zealand and attended Technical tours where we visited places such as Cerebral Palsy Alliance Canberra, and The University of Canberra Hospital (Canberra’s new dedicated rehabilitation hospital).  Simply put it was amazing.

The most compelling was a presentation given by Fiona Given – Director, Assistive Technology Australia.  Fiona is a person with Cerebral Palsy and complex communication needs.  Fiona uses various forms of AAC and various forms of assistive technologies.  Fiona explained some of the challenges in using her technologies inclusive of the practicalities of travelling, glove compartments and drinking holders for her wheelchair, the ease of getting to USB ports for her communication device etc – all with a sense of humor but underlying frustration and seriousness.  The underlying message is to have a person with disabilities as part of your design team and ensure the everyday practical use.  Fiona also played the Paralympic sport of Boccia for eleven years, including seven years at an international level. In 1996, she represented Australia in Boccia in the Paralympics in Atlanta – an inspirational individual, we would encourage you to read her story on-line.

‘Prevention is better than cure’ – The University of Canberra Hospital and a presentation by Prof Wei Tech Ang from Rehabilitation Research Institute of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University were also informative and thought provoking.  The Prof used an example of a deteriorating knee and gave a grading of 1 to 4 (4 being the knee would need to be replaced).  Early intervention was recommended where with the right rehabilitation and physiotherapy the knee would be less likely to become a 4 (replaced).  Prevention is better than cure – look after yourselves and look after each other. We really enjoyed our peep into the future.

The past year has seen huge changes in disability supports, structures and services for those who need them.  Aspire Canterbury are a not for profit, offering free, unbiased information and Assistive Technology for people with impairments or disability, their families, carers and any member of the public.  No one is turned away. See our Contact Us page for information about contacting us.