Keynote speakers

Laura Evans

imag606   Laura Evans is the Head of and Professional Lead for Occupational Therapy at Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (STHFT)_ The Trust includes acute and community services. Since qualifying in 1985 Laura has worked in acute hospital services, palliative care, paediatrics and research and is currently is a co-leader in a collaborative project between Occupational Therapists in STHFT and the University of Sheffield to develop assistive technological solutions and increasing research capacity within the profession of Occupational Therapy.

Sally Fowler Davis

sally5   Dr. Sally Fowler Davis is an Allied health professional and academic practitioner who has worked in the NHS, acute and community  and at regional and national level to promote research and service improvement in health care. She has worked across sectors and is keen to build capacity in Occupational Therapy and AHP interventions to achieve a wider adoption of assistive technology and telecare and engage clinical practitioners in research and innovation

Assistive technology in rehabilitation;  Have we lost the plot?

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Practitioners are still question the use of telecare (‘friend or foe’?) and there remains a policy/practice gap in relation to the wide deployment of advanced assistive technologies as a key requirement in living with a disability, across the lifespan.  We will argue that commissioners and providers need to consider the drivers to sustained system level improvement in the deployment of technology and work much more closely with clinical /academic practitioners to deliver health outcomes.

Sofia L. Kalman


Education: Semmelweis Medical University, Budapest, 1966-1972
Specialization: General Pediatrics, Budapest, 1978; Blissymbolics,Toronto, 1983, 1985
Title: Tit. Professor of ELTE University, Budapest, Hungary, 2010

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  • Dr. Habil. of Linguistic Sciences, JPTE, Pécs, Hungary, 2000
  • Doctor of Medical Law, ELTE, JTI, Budapest, Hungary, 2000
  • Ph. D. in Psychology, Hungarian Academy of Science, Budapest, Hungary, 1990

Professional experiences

  • Director of Hungarian Bliss Foundation, 1992–2014.
  • Pediatrician, Heim Pál Childern’s Hospital, Budapest, 1981–1992.
  • General pediatrics, St. John’s Hospital, Budapest, 1973–1980.
  • Internist, Early Infants’ Care, CSOMI, Budapest, 1872–1973.

Teaching experiences

  • Pediatrics for Nurses’ Training School, 1973–1980
  • Post graduate AAC courses for special educators from 1984– presently
  • Graduate AAC courses at the Barczi Gusztav Special Teachers’ Training College from 1988 – presently
  • Disability and society for ELTE BGGY from 2000

Foreign experiences

  • Consulting Editor of the Journal of Augmentative and Alternative Communication from 2008
    Research Associate, DUKE University Medical Ctr., Lenox Baker Children’s Rehab. Hospital,  Durham, USA, 1991
  • Visiting Scholar, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dept. of Medical Allied Health Profession, Chapel Hill, USA, 1990
  • Post Doc Fellow, Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, Dept. of Child Abuse and Neglect, Toronto,  Canada, 1982-1983
  • Research Assistant, University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine, Wyler’s Children’s Hospital, Dept. Gastroenterology, Chicago, USA, 1976-1977

What makes it tick? Components of the effective use of AAC

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AAC is still an emerging area of contemporary rehabilitation. It is a way for integrating persons with severe communication disorders into our societies. Most communication disorders are the result of the lack of speech. Life of a non-verbal person in a verbal society is unimaginable for the speaking majority. The more severe is the speech disorder the more expressed is the communication difficulty: complex problems call for complex solutions.

People with special communication needs need complex communication services.

  • Complexity means well-trained AAC therapists. But who, how and where will train them? Where will they work? Who will pay for the extra costs for AAC?
  • Complexity also means a broad range of available low tech and high tech communication aids, and an extremely high level of IT services. Where will be those informaticians who will understand the needs of a special teacher working with a person with a severe disability?
  • Complexity involves a wide range of administrative, financial, social and emotional problems of families living with a non-speaking person. Are the AAC experts or the IT advisors willing to deal with these problems?
  • Research is expected to ease the complexity by shedding light on dark areas. In this area certain problems cannot be approached through quantitative methods, so development of qualitative methods brought a tremendous development in AAC research. But are there enough enthusiastic researchers well trained in qualitative methods?

Thus it is easy to state that communication is a human right and nobody can be deprived of it just because of his/her physical condition, but to provide the adequate services needs much more than a simple act of goodwill.

Mike Paciello


Mike’s interest in accessibility was piqued in the mid-’80s when he encountered the then-laborious process of converting software documentation into braille. Mike knew there had to be a better way, and that led to him cofounding the International Committee for Accessible Document Design (ICADD), which created the first international specification for accessible electronic documents.

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Mike helped kick off the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), and he was among the authors of the first version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). He also wrote the first book on web accessibility, Web Accessibility for People with Disabilities. And in 2002, he went on to found The Paciello Group.

Mike served as the co-chair of the advisory committee that rewrote the Section 508 and Section 255 standards for the Access Board. Two years and forty-one collaborating organizations later, they presented their new and improved guidelines to the Access Board in the spring of 2008.

Mike and his wife Kim have lived in New Hampshire for over thirty years, and they never tire of its serene wooded landscapes. Mike’s also recently rediscovered his love for cooking, and if you’re wondering what’s on the menu, well, anything’s fair game—as long as it’s Italian.]

E-Accessibility: Achieving Pervasive Inclusion

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Regardless of ability, we are a global society immersed in the Digital Age. For

more than two decades, eAccessibility has achieved a state of maturity best

described as recognizable and relevant.


This presentation provides insight into the current state of eAccessibility

involving research, development, implementation and practice and suggests five

spectrums of change needed to raise the bar to achieve pervasive inclusion.

Penny Standen

pstanden   Penny Standen is Professor in Health Psychology and Learning Disabilities at Nottingham University. From early work on developing virtual environments to support independence in people with intellectual disabilities, her work has grown to embrace serious games, location based services, robotics and contemporary media. She is currently investigating the potential of a range of new technology to support profound and multiply disabled adults and young people.

Designing dedicated assistive technology or adapting mainstream technology? Examples from intellectual disabilities.

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An increasing number of children with profound and multiple disabilities (PMID) are surviving to school age and beyond. Even special schools struggle to meet their educational needs. At the same time we are all living longer but can still expect to spend our later years with reduced ability. In spite of these  increasing numbers, technology designed for those with a disability is expensive and people are reluctant to use it. In Nottingham, we have been exploring the use of adapted mainstream technology such as contact microphones, robots, eye gaze capture and brain computer interfaces to facilitate communication and access to electronic based learning materials in children with PMID.  The presentation will describe some of this work to enhance learning in pupils with PMID, the challenges experienced evaluating its effectiveness and how future developments in technology might benefit those with disabilities as well as those without.