Community Hub for Assistive Tech

 (A Community of Practice)

We held yet another successful gathering National Council for the Blind of Ireland Drumcondra Dublin on the 27th April 2016 10.30 – 12.30.

Pierce Richardson Disability Federation of Ireland welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked NCBI for hosting the gathering.

Chief executive officer NCBI Elaine Howley

Welcomed CHAT to NCBI. She spoke of the importance of AT and the significance of access for people with disabilities and getting appropriate access to technology.

Michelle Gaynor

 Michelle spoke of being straightjacketed in the medical model and how liberating the social model was. She spoke of two areas of her life were she had to fight to have her opinion heard. She pointed out that if the medical model had been allowed to dictate her life it would have been detrimental to her.  She said of the social model “I have been listened to, engaged with and consulted with on an ongoing basis. Simple things really, but things that have had a really positive effect on my life”. Professionals and the HSE always need to look at every option as one size does not fit all.


Siobhan Long, Enable Ireland

Siobhan Long set out the aims of the Assistive Technology Position Paper and in break out groups in the areas of Health, Children’s Services, Older people, Education, Employment and Community Living the following questions were explored to feed back into the paper;


o What additional reference material (policy, published reports/strategy documents/funding sources) are you aware of that could be of value to this report?

o Are there key players in your sector whom we need to consult with in preparing this report?

oWhat case studies can you offer to strengthen this report?

o Any other suggestions that may benefit us in preparing this report for publication?

Shout Outs

Stuart Lawlor NCBI: Enabling people to access work and retention issues. CBI carry out total assessment to support people to participate in the workforce using AT as well as mainstream devises. He pointed out that peoples level of comfort with their technology and competition with non-disabled people are the biggest factors in employment and job retention for individuals with sight loss. He went on to say that web based technology is playing an increasing important role as it offers a different way of working. CHAT, he maintained is also important, because being able to communicate with others in CHAT is crucial to moving the AT agenda forward.


Zaira Rivera Fernandez: Smart Dublin

Zaira introduced the Smart Dublin initiative. This project, comprising of the four Dublin Local Authorities engages with smart technology providers, researchers and citizens to solve city challenges and improve city life. It has an emphasis on using the opportunities offered by emerging technology. Smart Dublin has identified mobility, environment, energy, waste and emergency management as priority challenges.


Kieran Hanrahan National Learning Network: Harnessing Ubiquitous Technology

Kieran spoke about the seven tools that are likely to have a big impact on our lives. Technology such as augmented and virtual reality, digitised reality, open data, personal technology, intelligent sensors, navigational aids and artificial intelligence. With several international and local partners NLN intends to develop a unique system that will support persons with a disability use transport systems safely and independently. If the current funding application is successful, he will be looking for associate partners.


Damian Bourke Dublin Institute of Technology; Community Engagement Project

The DIT Programme Community Engagement Project supports staff and students engaging in community-based learning and research and builds links with communities. This involves collaborating with community partners (local groups, not-for-profit organisations, charities etc.) to develop real-life projects for mutual benefit. Partnering with NCBI and St. John of Gods for example, ensures the projects are user centric and the final product is useable.


Pierce Richardson, Disability Federation of Ireland, concluded the meeting by inviting members to have a play active part in CHAT. He talked about the need to evaluate CHAT and will be sending out a survey get feedback.


Our next CHAT (Community Hub for Assistive Technology) gathering  meeting will be hosted by Trinity College, Dublin on Wednesday 27th September  10.30 -12.30. (tbc)

As CHAT is a cross disciplinary initiative, anyone with an interest in crossing the boundaries of their own profession to learn from others is welcome. If this appeals to you please contact me. If you can’t attend the meetings you can be involved in the on line forum. 


There is a LinkedIn group up and running. This is a platform for potential learning, collaborations and sharing of knowledge and developing our collective capacity in this field, so please free to join.


Contact: Pierce Richardson, phone 086 1301515 or email


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