Assistive Technologies for People with Disability: Education

This session will address specific issues and challenges related to education for people with disabilities and the applied use of assistive technologies.

During the past decade research has demonstrated that Assistive Technology (AT) are powerful tools to increase independence and improve participation in education, employment and access to the community for people with disabilities. AT are products, equipment and systems, which include both high-end and low-end devices, apps and technologies. Despite their potential, the WHO has identified that only 10% of people in need of AT products have access to them. Although AT provision varies across countries, the intent to support people with disabilities should be a global priority with a focus to remove barriers and provide facilitators such as AT.

These goals are consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as Goal 1 (No Poverty); Goal 2 (Good Health and Well Being); Goal 4 (Quality Education); Goal 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and Goal 17 (Partnerships). For the purpose of these sessions we will focus on SDG1, SDG2 and SDG4 and SDG10. People with disabilities may lack access to basic education, which can limit their chances to obtain meaningful employment as adults. Globally the employment rates of people with disabilities is significantly lower than their non-disabled peers.

These sessions will draw together interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral stakeholders from research, industry, user groups to exchange current technological, research and policy developments in education. Stakeholders with a vast range of expertise and experience will identify the challenges of translating research and products into practice as well as discussing strategies and sharing best practices to support design and development of AT tools.

AGENDA Assistive Technologies

11-11.20 (BST)
12-12.20 (CEST) Introduction to Assistive Technology for People with Disability.
Dr. Geraldine Leader, National University of Ireland, Galway, IRE

11.20-11.40 (BST)
12.20-12.40 (CEST) Professor Sarah Parsons University of Southampton, UK

12.40-13.00 (CEST) Mr Stephen Howell, University College Dublin, IRE

12noon-12.20 (BST)
13-13.20 (CEST) Dr Mick Donegan, SpecialEffect, UK

12.20-12.40 (BST)
13.20-13.40 (CEST) Mr Luis Perez De La Maza, AUCAVI, SPAIN

12.40-13.00 (BST)
13.40-14.00 (CEST) Dr Nigel Newbutt, University of the West of England, UK

Assistive Technologies for People with Disability: Education

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Sep 28 2020


12:00 PM - 2:00 PM


  • Geraldine Leader
    Geraldine Leader
    National University of Ireland, Galway, IRE

    Geraldine is a graduate of University College Cork where she obtained her B.A. (Hons) and Ph.D. in Psychology. Geraldine is a Behavioural Psychologist and is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). With over 80 peer-reviewed publication, Geraldine’s research interests lie in the areas of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (ID). She conducts interdisciplinary research primarily concerned with improving the quality of life of individuals with ASD and ID. Geraldine is the Director of the Irish Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Research (ICAN) at NUIG. She also acts as Director of Research for DOCTRID (Daughters of Charity Technology and Research into Disability) an interdisciplinary research network of scientists, disability service providers, practitioners, and industry partners dedicated to improving the quality of life of those with ASD and ID with a special emphasis on Assistive Technology. She is a PI in GEMMA (Genome, Environment, Microbiome, and Metabolome in Autism) which was recently awarded €14.2 million from Horizon 2020 (2019-2024).

  • Luis Perez de la Maza
    Luis Perez de la Maza

    As a special education teacher and educational psychologist, I´ve developed all my career in relation with disability especially with people on the autism spectrum since 1998. I´ve been engaged in different projects with different profiles, as a special ed. Teacher, as principal and manager of ASD specific schools (two in Madrid and one in Johannesburg), as part of a multidisciplinary diagnostic team, as part of the education board in different regional and national entities.
    Cognitive accessibility and assistive technology are my two fields of professional interest and development, performing research, lecturing and engaging in development projects.
    Currently I´m the vice president and technical director of AUCAVI Foundation and also I´m the board of Adapta Foundation both targeting service provision for people on the autism spectrum.

  • Michael Donegan
    Michael Donegan
    Founder and CEO of SpecialEffect

    Dr Mick Donegan is the Founder and Director of SpecialEffect, a charity dedicated to providing enhanced opportunities for people with severe physical disabilities to access technology for leisure, creativity and communication. He has played a significant role in several European Projects, including COGAIN (a European gaze control and disability project) and, more recently, a member of the Advisory Panel for BNCI Horizon 2020, which created a roadmap for future European research into Brain and Neural Interfaces.

    Mick will be using case studies to illustrate the social and educational impact of using Norwegian company ‘No Isolation’ AV1 Telepresent robots in the classroom, controlled by children who have an immune deficiency due to conditions such as cancer. Due to their vulnerability, these children are frequently away from school for many months and, in some cases, literally years.

  • Nigel Newbutt
    Nigel Newbutt
    Senior Lecturer and Senior Researcher: Digital Education, University of the West of England, UK.

    Dr Newbutt is a researcher in the Department of Education at UWE, Bristol. His work has involved the design, development and application of digital technologies for, and with, autistic groups. His recent research has involved the evaluation of virtual reality head-mounted displays in educational settings for young people with autism. This has involved the inclusion of autistic children and their teachers in both the research and evaluation of tools. Coupled with usability evaluations and developing ethical and safety protocols, his work has helped to provide unique insights to the views of autistic people and their use of HMD-based VR.

  • Sarah Parsons
    Sarah Parsons
    Professor of Autism and Inclusion

    Sarah is Professor of Autism and Inclusion in Southampton Education School at the University of Southampton, UK. She has longstanding research interests in the educational experiences of children, young people and adults on the autism spectrum and their families. Major research themes include developing and evaluating the use of innovative technologies for autistic children, evidence-based practices in autism, and research ethics. Sarah’s work is participatory and inclusive with an emphasis on knowledge co-construction between research and practice. Sarah co-directs ACoRNS: the Autism Community Research Network @ Southampton (, which is a unique research-practice partnership between the University and local education providers focusing on the transitions and trajectories of autistic children and young people. At the heart of this work is the development and application of creative methodologies for enabling the voices and participation of autistic children and young people to be heard in education.

  • Stephen Howell
    Stephen Howell
    University College Dublin

    Stephen Howell is a PhD candidate at SMARTLab, University College Dublin on Inclusive Design and Creative Technology Innovation, where his research focuses on Computational Thinking and Assistive Technology. A Computer Science graduate of Dublin City University, Stephen has over 2 decades experience in software engineering, lecturing, program management, and the education industry. Stephen is a parent of neurodiverse children and an advocate for STE(A)M, Autism & ADHD awareness, Gender Diversity in Tech, and increasing accessibility in technology for all. After 14 years lecturing in higher education, Stephen returned to industry, joining Microsoft in 2013. In this role he supports academics with cloud computing and serves as the Diversity and Inclusion Council’s Accessibility Lead.