Dr Huseyin Dogan (Principal Academic in Computing) and Dr Paul Whittington (Postdoctoral Researcher in Assistive Technologies) from the Human Computer Interaction Research Group at BU attended two events at Westminster exploring assistive technology.
They were invited to the EdTech For SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) Symposium in the House of Lords, in support of their Assistive Technology research. This is one of the key strategic investment areas in the BU2025 vision.
The EdTech For SEND Symposium discussed the Government’s new Education Technology (EdTech) strategy, that aims to promote the use of Assistive Technology in schools and inclusive teaching and learning for all students, irrespective of their abilities.
The Symposium was chaired by Lord Holmes of Richmond and consisted of a panel of experts from the Assistive Technology domain, including Anna Reeves, CEO of the Ace Centre and Adam Gordon, SEND and Inclusion Manager at the London Grid for Learning.
There was also a keynote speaker, Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families. The Symposium was an opportunity to discuss BU’s Assistive Technology research amongst the panellists.
Dr Dogan and Dr Whittington also attended Leonard Cheshire’s Assistive Technology Showcase event and had the opportunity to experience currently available Assistive Technologies and collaborate with manufacturers, including Inclusive Technology and BrainInHand.
This event was opened by Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister of State for Social Care and included a speech from Steve Tyler, Assistive Technology Director for Leonard Cheshire, who was the keynote speaker at the BU Assistive Technology Symposium on Monday 24th June 2019.
Attending the two events in Parliament provided opportunities to promote the Assistive Technology research at BU with the All-Party Parliamentary Group and the Assistive Technology industry.
The panellists highlighted the awareness of Assistive Technology is a common challenge, as people are not aware of the technologies that are available. Dr Whittington also believes that it is important to promote the use of Assistive Technologies in education, due to his own personal experience of using technology whilst at school and University. Assistive Technologies have the potential of improving quality of life for people with reduced abilities and enable equal opportunities for education.
The importance of raising awareness of Assistive Technologies is the aim of BU’s SmartAbility research.
Dr Dogan and Dr Whittington will be submitting proposals for external research funding, focusing on Assistive Technology for education. Attending the parliamentary events will facilitate future collaborations with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology, as well as other parliamentary groups and MPs. The collaborations resulted in presentations from London Grid for Learning and Diversity & Ability charities at the Assistive Technology Symposium.