11 November 2022

Conference Opening
prof. Maurice Grinberg, ASSIST – Assistive Technologies
Sanja Saranovic, deputy-representative of UNICEF in Bulgaria
Lazar Lazarov, Deputy Prime Minister for Social Policies and Minister of Labor and Social Policy
Marin Baychev, Head of Department at Ministry of Labor and Social Policy
Dr. Teodora Ivanova, chairperson of State Agency for Child Protection
Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf, AAATE – Association for Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe
Greta Gancheva, director of Inclusive Education Directorate at Minitstry of Education and Science
prof. Stephen von Tetzchner, University of Oslo, Norway

Emma Smith, PhD
Global perspective on measuring assistive technology outcomes: Why it matters, and where are we going

To effectively delivery assistive technology to the people who need it, we need to understand the effectiveness of the technologies, the services which surround them, and the policies which govern their access and use. This requires us to measure the outcomes associated with each of these, both on a local or regional scale, and comparatively on a global scale. The Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organizations (GAATO), an umbrella organization which brings together national and international level stakeholder organizations in assistive technology, set out to understand the biggest challenges faced by the sector in measuring and using assistive technology outcomes. This presentation will provide an argument for why it is important to talk about assistive technology outcomes, and an overview of the results of the GAATO AT Outcomes project.

Prof. Maurice Grinberg
AAC for the lifespan: Opportunities and challenges in Bulgaria

Prof. Stephen von Tetzchner
Augmentative and alternative communication: Lifespan issues

Communication and language are core elements of human activities from an early age and throughout the life span. In the early phases of language development, children engage in communicate interactions and internalize the vocabulary, grammar and pragmatics of the culture’s language(s). With age, externalization becomes a main element of language use and in adolescence, creative and flexible use becomes a more prominent feature of language acquisition. In adulthood, the changes in conversations and activities continue to influence vocabulary acquisition and reflect the individuals’ identities and roles, and their participation in everyday events and community life. People learn language from the language community and themselves become members of this community. The language development process is paralleled with changes in the functions of the language environment, from child-directed language to negotiations of meaning on an equal footing.

Individuals who develop augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) go through the same phases but are more dependent on intervention and support to obtain communicative access. Parents and professionals are particularly attentive to early intervention but intervention measures need to change as the individuals go through the developmental phases of the life-span. AAC is their key to the changes in participation, identities and roles through the life-span. It is a transactional process: AAC is the result of communicative access and developmental language processes and a means to participation in activities and community life.

Lorenzo Desideri, PhD
Assistive technology centres for people with severe and multiple disabilities in Emilia-Romagna: The AIAS-concept from Bologna

The aim of the contribution is to provide an overview of the structure, organization as well the activities and principles of a specialized centre for assistive technology in Italy, focusing on the role of the AT centres in promoting participation of people with disabilities over the lifespan.

Anna Krasteva
A day in my life