The Importance of Our Support
“Every person has the right to have his or her disability compensated as far as possible by aids with the same technical standard as those we all use in our everyday lives.” Dr. Per Uddén
Think about all of the different industries out there. Even if we make this smaller by just considering the industries within healthcare and technology. How many are there? How do they survive, but more importantly how do they thrive? What do I mean by thrive? Today, I am not talking about how much money the industry makes, but rather the advancement of the industry.
Look at some of the industries out there and the constant advancement they are achieving, such as the car industry. This is not just because of the financial backing that they have, but by the involvement from their customers and the industry as a whole. Every day I come to work, I remember the quote at the top. I am here to help in making this statement a reality, just as every one of you reading this blog has a part. Some of us may support this effort through hands-on work with the end-user, some may do this through providing the equipment, or you may be the individual receiving this equipment. No matter what our role is, we all have to work together to continue to push for more research, more innovation, and more advanced products.
One of the most important ways we can support our cause and our industry is through involvement! Involvement allows our voices to be heard, involvement allows for us to further our knowledge, and involvement allows for our industry to continue to grow, develop, and improve. One of the best ways we can get involved is through industry wide conferences, events, and expos. Some of these events allow us the opportunity whether you are an end-user, parent, carer, therapist, supplier, or manufacturer to meet under one roof with the same main objective – for an individual, regardless of a disability, to live their life to the same technical standard.
I am discussing this today as we have a fantastic opportunity to support our industry next week in Sydney with the ATSA Independent Living Expo. This is the perfect example of an expo that provides the platform to move our industry forward. One of my favourite parts of this type of expo are the presentations. This is an opportunity for end-users, family, therapists to all come and learn the most updated research, current affairs within the industry, and the opportunity to ask questions! The more we as a community support, not only the expo, but the presentations through attendance we push the presenters to provide the most up to date, applicable, research driven information.
The most important advice I can give is to remember to ask questions. Whether it is in the presentations or on the floor of the expo, it is important for everyone to ask questions. Questions allow learning and development. Questions are what push us as an industry to advance in our technology, research, and innovation. If we never asked questions, we would just become complacent. It can be intimidating to walk up to a manufacturer, supplier, etc… in the expo, but here are a few ideas to get the conversation started:
Do you have any new products this year? Why were these products designed? What makes them unique? How can they assist in the improvement in the quality of life of the end-user?
It isn’t just about asking questions either. Try it out! Don’t be afraid to get hands on! You can’t always try out every product but ask if you can. One of the best ways we can learn is through trialling. Whether it is sitting on a cushion, driving a power wheelchair, or trying out a robotic arm. Make sure you are keeping safety at the front of this exploration but have fun learning!
Remember that the only way for our industry to continue to develop new products that will better support the end-users, is to create a reason for that continued development, creating the intention for each new design. One of the biggest pushes in this comes from all of you! Asking the questions, providing feedback, and letting the manufacturers know what it is that you need and want. In many industries the customer and the manufacturer are seen as two separate groups, fighting against each other. I want to charge us as an industry to continue to work together to achieve our common goal. One of the greatest ways that we can do this is through events such as the ATSA Independent Living Expo. Whether you are a therapist coming to attend the presentations and learn, an end-user coming to see the products first hand, or a family member just a little over-whelmed and wanting some information – ATSA’s Independent Living Expo is for you!
Here are the dates below for this expo and a few other upcoming expos in Australia and New Zealand. Feel free to email me or post below with other expos going on in your area. I will be at all the events listed below, so be sure to stop by and say hello.
ATSA Independent Living Expo
Sydney, May 8-9
Brisbane, May 15-16
Canberra, August 27-28
ATSNZ Expo– Assistive Technology Suppliers New Zealand
Auckland, May 23
Source Kids Disability Expo
Brisbane, July 5-6
Oceania Seating Symposium (OSS)
Melbourne, November 12-14