Australian Rehabilitation & Assistive Technology Association

Participation through technology

Issue Two September 2019

L to R ARATA President Natasha Layton, past Board members David Hobbs and Emma Friesen, past President Desleigh de Jonge in Bologna

ARATA Board Report 

Libby Callaway - ARATA Vice-President

It has been a pleasure to step up from the 2019 Vice President into an acting President role for the last three months, as our dedicated 2019 ARATA president Natasha Layton – and many other ARATA members – travelled over to Geneva for the World Health Organisation's GReAT Consultation and then the AAATE2019 meeting in Bologna. 

It was exciting to hear so many updates from Natasha and other members. The ongoing  recognition ARATA receives as a key contributor to growing international AT relations and the newly named Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organisations (previously the International Alliance of AT Organisations - see is a credit to the work of many ARATees over many years.
Back in Australia, it has also been a busy time for the ARATA Board and members during this period. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our dedicated members who have contributed so much to the AT sector as part of their representation of AT stakeholders. This includes most recently:
  • The many ARATees who have contributed to the ARATA email listserve discussions on a range of interesting and varied topics
  •  Iain Browne, Rachael McDonald and David Hobbs have nominated to co-convene our 2020 Australian Assistive Technology Conference, and Andrew Congdon will be our ARATA Board liaison for this event
  • Fraser Clarke and Cathy Olsson, who represented ARATA on our stand at the AGOSCI conference exhibition in Perth recently
  • Karthik Pasumarthy who provided drafting of a response to the Austroads - Motorised Mobility Devices Discussion Paper 
  • Andrew Congdon, Jenni Dabelstein and I developed a response to the NDIS joint standing committee review of NDIS planning
  • Mel Noonan and I both have recorded ARATA TechBites (short digital education resources) which are now being captioned for upload to our Members Only area of the ARATA website - big thanks to David Harraway for assisting this process, and feedback from ARATA members on best approaches to use
  • Michele Verdonk, our new Social Media Officer who has been working to curate ARATA Facebook and Twitter content.
  • David Sinclair, Tracey Bode and Charlene Cullen are in the process of finalising their TechBite content for recording and supply to ARATA members
  • The 2019 Oceanic Seating Symposium (OSS) organising committee (and Rachael McDonald, as conference convenor) who have been very supportive of ARATA hosting our 2019 AGM on Day 2 of the OSS - join us at the MCG at 5pm on Wednesday November 13th, 2019.
Finally, our 2019 ARATA Board - which consists of both very experienced and new Board members - has been working on a range of strategic activities, as well as the more everyday (but as important) tasks of budget forecasting (thanks Stephen Hales), populating of AT educator contacts by state (thanks Anita Volkert), launching and refining our AT practitioner registry (thanks Liz Nade) and other operational activities.

I am really excited to see the ongoing excellent work ARATA will deliver with our 2020 Board and membership base after our AGM on 13th November 2019. We would love you to consider joining the Board or - alternatively - nominating to help out in a small, strategic role that shares contribution by our knowledgable membership base.

We welcome contact from members via 

AAATE Bologna and call to sign The Bologna Declaration 

Natasha Layton

The Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE) welcomed a number of ARATEEs to its conference in August. Over 360 AT experts gather for five streams of papers and workshops over three days, and a glimpse at the diverse scientific program gives a snapshot of the focus of AT in Europe today.

Conference abstracts are published in a Supplement to Technology And Disability Volume 31, Supplement1,2019, free to download, and a good way to browse and connect with authors working in your area of interest. 

What is the Bologna Declaration? 
A call to arms for AT practitioners everywhere was issued at the high-level meeting on “Unlocking the Human Potential” held in the oldest University in Europe  - this  resulted in the Bologna Declaration, a public statement written with the support of different stakeholders expressing dissatisfaction with the current situation that many people with disabilities lack access to appropriate assistive technology, and listing 10 concrete areas for action. The Bologna Declaration can be endorsed on the website ( and will serve to push the agenda in the AT field forward. 

ARATA participated in an international panel on education and credentialing (pictured Natasha Layton and Roger Smith of RESNA)

ARATA Practitioner Directory

We recently launched our Assistive Technology Practitioners Directory to enable visitors to the ARATA website to search for and connect with a range Assistive Technology providers from our membership including expert AT users, allied health practitioners, equipment suppliers of AT products and services, AT educators and advisors.  

We ask ARATA members to please review your details when you renew your membership or proceed to MyARATA at any time to update your profile.

Introducing the Global Association of Assistive Technology Organisations (GAATO) 

Natasha Layton

Founding members and inaugural members of GAATO L to R Luc de Witte (AAATE), Silvana Contemponi (ATA), Renzo Andrich (EASTIN), Evert Jan Hoogerwerf (AAATE), David Dikter (ATIA), Roger Smith (RESNA) Natasha Layton (ARATA), Takenobu Inoue (RESJA), Inhuk Moon (RESKO)

 ARATA is a founding member of the new Global Alliance of AT Organisations, and were represented at the first General Assembly of the Global Alliance was held in Bologna, Italy on the 27th of August, at 10.00 AM as a side event of the 2019 AAATE Conference. At this General Assembly, GAATO considered 6 more applications for membership, 4 of which were accepted in this 1stGeneral Assembly, and 2 being accepted as associate members. 

The seeds for GAATO were laid in 2000, when 4 organizations (AAATE, ARATA, RESNA, RESJA) decided to join forces to better move the agenda on assistive technology (AT) forward. In 2016, two more organizations, namely RESKO and TREATS, joined in. 

All these organizations are motivated by the wish “to advance the field of assistive technology (AT) and rehabilitation engineering (RE) to benefit people with disabilities and functional limitations of all ages” – as per GAATO’s mission statement. As well as the need to coordinate on a global level for a coherent approach and way forward – which led to this first official general assembly and the wish to become more structured as alliance. 

“The strength of this alliance lies in the huge amount of competence in its ranks and also that it is neither part of government nor industry. Instead it is a third party that can be the connecting piece between policy and high-level initiatives like WHO’s GATE and ATscale with the people on the ground who work with people with disabilities and older users and everyone who potentially needs assistive technology”, said Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf, Co-Chair of the GAATO.  

Why is there a need for GAATO?Assistive technology is  increasingly an issue of global concern and despite existing solutions there are still many people that could benefit but lack access to AT. Assistive technology covers many disciplines, fields of practice and research, and user groups – it is an area where we can learn from our mutual experience and work together on standards, training, good practice and policies. There is no unified global platform to represent the AT sector and coordinate with governments and international bodies such as the WHO and UN. 
Areas where GAATO intends to make a difference include policy, research, innovation and development. 

Founding GAATO member ARATA President Natasha Layton with new GAATO member Silvana Contemponi, President of the Argentinian Assistive Technology Association 

Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme published the following Progress Report on general issues around the implementation and performance of the NDIS.

The report includes a number of references to ARATA which can be found on our website.

ARATA presents at the Pacific Rehabilitation and Mobility Conference

The first Regional Rehabilitation and Mobility Conference, was hosted by Motivation Australia in partnership with the Pacific Disability Forum. The forum brought together leaders in rehabilitation and mobility device services from across the Pacific, providing an opportunity to:

  • Review progress in building their services and workforce, in the context of global, regional and national frameworks

  • Discuss how to ensure their services are fully recognised as pre-conditions for inclusion, essential for achieving Universal Health Coverage and the UN Sustainable Development Goals,

  • Identify priority actions for strengthening services, considering quality, equity and scope in the future.

The First Global Report on Assistive Technology

Natasha Layton and Desleigh de Jonge

ARATA members will recall the excitement when the World Health Assembly passed Resolution ion WHA71.8 - Improving access to assistive technology which calls upon WHO to prepare a global report on effective access to assistive technology by 2021. 
ARATA President Dr Natasha Layton was contracted by WHO to work on the first Consultation to inform the development of the global report. This two day event, held in Geneva on 22 and 23 August 2019, was attended by over 260 participants from about 60 countries, as well as a global live streaming audience. Several further regional consultations are planned, and ARATEE’s are encouraged to follow the progress of the Global Report at []
The objectives of this Global Report include highlighting the current need, demand and supply of assistive technology, as well as outlining good practices for innovation. The Global Report will be a game changer in setting out recommendations to improve access to AT for the estimated 1 in 10 global citizens with unmet need. It represents an opportunity for all AT stakeholders to lean into the global efforts, across high, middle and lower income countries, to identify excellent practice, to innovate for ‘last mile’ service delivery, and to really leverage individual efforts to achieve equal access for all.  

ARATEE’s are encouraged to read the soon-to-be released Consultation Report and eBOOK of data on needs and supply, policies and programmes, investment and financing mechanisms, procurement, service delivery, capacity building and innovation. This provides a snapshot of contemporary AT thinking, and the email contacts of global authors are available to make connections. These will be available on the GReAT Consultation webpage
Excitingly, we have an Australian on the Advisory Group of Experts on Assistive Technologywho will guide the development of the Global Report.  Desleigh de Jonge is a member of the advisory group which comprises 16 representatives from around the world from a broad range of disciplines.

Following two online meetings, the first in person meeting was held in Geneva on 21 August 2019. The primary function of the Advisory Group is to provide high-level advice and oversight to the development of the Global Report in relation to:

  • methods to assess current and future need/unmet need of AT;
  • methods for evidence review of best practice across all aspects of AT, including products, policy, personnel and provision;
  • development of recommendations which support sustainable and integrated access to AT as an indispensable element for Universal Health Coverage and the achievement of related Sustainable Development Goals;
  • strategic priorities in research and innovation for improving access to AT across the world, based on the findings of the Global Report. 
    Want to contribute? Keep in touch through ARATA, and join the GATE Community  A call for Global Report chapter editors will be forthcoming shortly.
Desleigh de Jonge and Natasha Layton at WHO Headquarters, Geneva in August 2019

ARATA TGA Consultation Submission

Earlier in the year ARATA submitted a response to the TGA’s recent consultation on the Proposed regulatory scheme for personalised medical devices, including 3D-printed devices.  

ARATA would like to thank members for their contribution and a copy of ARATA’s response has been posted on the Publication’s page under ARATA Submissions.

Read More

Standards Committee Report

ME-067 Held meeting number 52 in Brisbane on 17 & 18 June.  

ME-067 is the Standards Australia committee that works on drafting, reviewing and updating national and international standards relating to assistive technology products for persons with disability. 

ARATA’s current representative is Karthik Pasumarthy, Rehabilitation Engineer, Rehabilitation Technology Unit (RTU), Fiona Stanley Hospital, and reports regular updates to the ARATA community.

An information page on ARATA’s work in Australian and International Standards can be found on the ARATA website.

Read More

Oceania Seating Symposium

ARATA and the Australian Assistive Technology Conference (AATC) has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Oceania Seating Symposium (OSS) to combine our members’ expertise and networks to promote and support each event.

The Swinburne University of Technology is hosting the premiere Oceania Seating Symposium in Melbourne, in conjunction with Seating to Go (NZ) and the International Seating Symposium - Vancouver (ISS) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, 12th - 14th November, 2019.

We look forward to seeing many ARATA members there as delegates, and also invite the broader ARATA membership to attend our AGM which will be held during OSS.

Coming Events

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