The 2021 ATIA Conference in Orlando, Florida has gone online due to Covid-19. The British Assistive Technology Scholarship would normally fund one or two delegates to fly the Atlantic and attend assistive technology’s premier event. Instead, we were able to fund twenty-five places at the virtual conference. As you will see below they are an impressive bunch with a wide range of perspectives as reflected in their reports.
Mick Archer is a journalist who has written extensively about AT including as Editor of Special Children Magazine and Special World.
“Every cloud has a silver lining, or so the optimists say. An unexpected invitation to attend ATIA 2021 seemed like the perfect opportunity to test the proverb out. Here we were in the midst of a global pandemic, which is a cloud by anyone’s definition. So how were students with special educational needs and/or disabilities…” Click here to download Mick’s report
Robert McLaren is Head of Health and Accessibility at the think tank Policy Connect and manages the All Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology.
“I was delighted to take part in the AT Scholar programme this year, attending the ATIA Conference as an online webinar series. I won’t say a trip to sunny Orlando (the usual setting for the conference) would have been unwelcome, but the move to online allowed many more Scholars…”
Gemma Wilkinson is an AAC Consultant for Ace Centre with a background in adult Speech and Language Therapy.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to attend my very first ATIA conference this year. The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) is an organization for manufacturers, suppliers and providers of Assistive Technology…” Click here to download Gemma’s report
Jennette Greenwood is AAC Coordinator at Pendle View Primary Special School and works with children on a range of high and low-tech communication devices, and develops personalised communication systems to allow children to access an education.
“The organisers have done an outstanding job of transfer everything online and although I’m sure it would be a wonderful opportunity to experience the conference in real time I’m sure I wouldn’t have participated in as many seminars had I’d been there to watching them online…”
Zoë Clarke works for the Barnsley Assistive Technology Team as Environmental Controls Lead and represent EC nationally on the NHS England Clinical Reference Group for Rehabilitation & Disability. Her team provides the specialised EC and AAC Service across Yorkshire and the Humber.
“I have worked in Electronic Assistive Technology for nearly 20 years and the ATIA conference is something that I have often looked at but never managed to get to. When I received the email saying that I had been nominated as an AT Scholar with the opportunity to attend ATIA…”
Vicky Healy is the deputy chair of Communication Matters and is Professional Lead for AAC and AT for Surrey County Council. Vicky’s service sits within the Physical and Sensory Support Service and she works extensively with students with VI and PD needs.
“The prospect of becoming a British AT scholar and having the chance to attend a conference of such high caliber as ATIA, filled me with both excitement and fear…” Click here to download Vicky’s report
Fran Clayton is headteacher of Pendle View Primary Special School. She champions total communication for all of her pupils and works on the development of assistive technology to aid access to learning.
“The seminars have confirmed to me that having a voice must underpin all we do within schools and this in turn will enable our students voices to be heard within their families and wider society…” Click here to read Fran’s report
Paul Nisbet is Senior Research Fellow and Director of CALL Scotland, a service, development and research unit within the University of Edinburgh. In 2010 Paul was awarded the University of Edinburgh Principal’s Medal in recognition of his work in the field of assistive technology.
“The ATIA AT Connected event is one of the largest and most varied conferences focussing on assistive technology and this year it was an online event held from January 25th to February 4th 2021. I was fortunate to be offered one of 24 AT Scholarships…” Click here to read Paul’s report
Catherine Hayes is a Total Communication Assistant at Kingfisher Special School supporting both children and staff with Assistive Technology. Catherine is passionate about Assistive Technology and the development of its use across school.
“As a Total Communication Practitioner at Kingfisher Special School, my interest and passion for Assistive Technology has never been greater. The need to keep up to date with the ever evolving world of AT and what it has to offer the pupils I support is paramount to my role…”
Ian Bean is an AT specialist consultant with over 20 years of experience providing training and support to teachers and therapists involved in the education of young people with severe and complex needs.
“It’s almost seventeen years since I first became aware of the Assistive Technology Industry Association community and the ATIA conference. Each year, thousands of assistive technology practitioners, therapists, educators, parents, and caregivers come together to learn…”
Helen Whittle is a Speech and Language Therapist working in the Assistive Technology field since 1991. She is currently involved in research dissemination at Manchester Metropolitan University and is Chair of the Board of Trustees of Communication Matters.
“This was my first experience of an ATIA conference. The range of talks and presentations was huge and at first overwhelming. Following on from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the World it was great to see some of the AAC suppliers discuss the work…”
Suzanne Martin is a Speech and Language Therapist and is Senior AAC Consultant at Ace Centre.
“As a Senior AAC Consultant who has worked in the field for too many years to mention and having attended many conferences around the world over that time I am both amazed and ashamed to say that this was my first time attending an ATIA conference…”
Clive Gilbert is Policy Manager for Assistive Technology at Policy Connect, where he manages the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology. He is also editor of the dispATches assistive technology newsletter.
“Having heard a lot about the annual ATIA conference in Florida over the years, I was delighted to be asked to attend this year’s socially-distanced gathering as a member of the British AT Scholarship delegation. Even in its virtual form, the conference has lived up …”
Iveta Power is a teacher at Chailey Heritage School, a special needs school in East Sussex. She has 18 years of experience of supporting children and young people with complex neurodisabilities with Assistive Technology.
“This year I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the ATiA 2021 conference, usually hosted in the USA. In a normal year this wouldn’t have been possible but, owing to Covid restrictions, the 2021 conference was entirely online…” Click here to read Iveta’s report
Ian Loughlin is the Information Manager at Inclusive Technology.
“The ATIA 2021 virtual event provided a wealth of presentations, both live and pre-recorded sessions, covering a wide range of areas, products and topics. Due to the UK/US time difference, it meant that I was unable to attend full sessions as they were happening, so it was of great benefit that recordings of live events…” Click here to read Ian’s report
Suzanne Buckley is an AAC Consultant at Ace Centre.
“It is so exciting to be working in this field where technology and the general populations’ access to it has advanced significantly in the last ten years. Moreover, the pandemic has sped up the move towards better use of technology, particularly in the NHS…”
Will Wade is a Senior AAC Consultant at Ace Centre.
“It has been de rigour for those institutions who host an annual conference to move to an online schedule during the pandemic. You can be unsure as to what “Online conference” really means. This has been anything from a handful of pre-recorded YouTube presentations to what ATIA have put together this year…” Click here to read Will’s report
Antony Ruck is Co-President at Digital Assistive Technology Industry Association for Europe (DATEurope) and Vice-Chair at the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA).
“Over the last 10 years I have been fortunate to attend ATIA as a delegate, a speaker, and an exhibitor. In whichever capacity I’m always stunned by the sheer…” Click here to read Anthony’s report
Kimberley Miller is a Teacher at a Special School in Oldham whose pupils have a range of communication needs and all use different methods of AT. She has a passion in supporting children with communication difficulties and strives to use the approach most suited to them.
“I was fortunate to be offered the opportunity to attend this year’s conference and although the format differed this year due to Covid l felt it gave me more opportunities to explore and develop my ideas as l was able to work through the recordings that had been made. I felt the more l watched…” Click here to read Kim’s report
Kim Lawther is a teacher who specialises in AAC and Assistive Technology for students with Additional Learning Needs. Kim is the Assistive Technology Lead at Bridgend College in South Wales.
“This year, the 2021 conference of the ATIA was held virtually from Jan 25th to Feb 4th. The conference offered a rich and well-structured programme with participants from across the US, Europe and the UK. There were two particular areas that I was interested in…”
Pete Wells is an award winning special needs teacher and senior leader. He is the host of the ‘Sensory Stories Podcast’ and the author of the forthcoming ‘Inclusive Stories.’ He has been proud to work in the field of special education for nearly twenty five years.
“I was honoured, grateful and very excited to be offered a British Scholarship for the ATIA. This was quickly followed by embarrassed, shocked and overwhelmed…” Click here to download Peter’s report.
Dr Paul Whittington is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Assistive Technology in the Faculty of Science and Technology at Bournemouth University. Paul specialises in the analysis of peoples’ abilities to provide appropriate AT recommendations using smartphone technology.
“As a Postdoctoral Researcher in Assistive Technology at Bournemouth University, I was honoured to be awarded a British AT Scholarship to attend the ATIA AT Connected Conference. My research investigates…” Click here to read Paul’s report
Fil McIntyre is Manager and Assistive Technology Lead for TechAbility.
“The true value of any conference is proven by the impact it has on your practice after the event. For assistive technology this is often from practical learning about new hardware, software…” Click here to read Fil’s report
Jason Beal is a visually impaired trainer with over 10 years’ experience training clients on a wide range of equipment and software from screen readers to text-to-speech. Jason has a qualification in teaching at PTLLS level and a certified Jaws for Windows and Zoomtext magnifier trainer.
“This year of course was rather different, with the restriction on travel. The team at ATIA did a fantastic job of moving the entire conference to an online platform…” Click here to read Jason’s report