Website to promote assistive technology


20 Sep 2006

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A new website which provides information on assistive technology for people with disabilities was launched this morning at a major education conference in the RDS in Dublin.

The site was launched by Mary Davis, director of Special Olympics Ireland and chairperson of the Taskforce on Active Citizenship.

The new website, www.gateway2at.org, aims to raise the profile of assistive technology amongst students, educators (guidance counsellors, assistive technology advisors, access officers, lecturers and others) and employers. Assistive technology enables an individual to achieve greater independence in education, workplace and in life. It includes alternative keyboards and mice, screen-reading and word-prediction software, voice-recognition software, communication tools and other devices.

The name Gateway derives from the acronym Gateway Guidance for Assistive Technology in Education and the Workplace Advancing Young People with Disabilities.

The Disability Act, 2005 requires that 3pc of employees in the public sector should be people with disabilities. While there is not an equivalent requirement for the private sector, it is anticipated that the information provided on www.gateway2at.org will be particularly useful to all employers.

The website is a valuable information resource and includes case studies of expert assistive technology users, as well as information on how to access funding for such technologies.

Gateway2at.org is an international collaboration and has been led by Irish partners Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT); Enable Ireland; and Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT). The European partners are AbilityNet, England; Technical University of Kosice (TUKE), Slovakia; University of Ljubiljana, Slovenia; and the Walloon Agency for the Integration of People with Disabilities (AWIPH), Belgium. The initiative is funded by the Leonardo da Vinci programme.

In developing the site, expert opinion was sought from the various user groups. According to Debbie O’Halloran, group editor of Irishjobs.ie, the site is “extremely user-friendly and informative. The information is structured in a way that is easily-navigable for the user and it is very comprehensive.”

Tony Murray, user tester for the Centre for Inclusive Technology (CFIT), said it was “the best I’ve ever evaluated”. He described it as “a valuable and information-rich resource”.

By Elaine Larkin