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Assistive Technology Policy Group
This week, we were invited to enjoy the sublime Speaker’s House in the Palace of Westminster for the celebration of The All Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT) launch.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology has been set up to disseminate knowledge, generate debate and facilitate engagement on assistive technology amongst Members of both Houses of Parliament.
Guests were welcomed by the current Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP at this important event. Bercow discussed his major review of services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and his report (The Bercow Report), published in 2008. The newest review (Bercow: Ten Years On) is being researched by I CAN and the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists (RCSLT).
Seema Malhotra MP, the nominated Chair for the APPGAT continued the welcome and highlighted the opportunities to the UK economy as a result of new disability employment, discussing the need to close the employment gap and create greater access in society as well as in the workplace.
There was an aspirational video, showcasing the benefits of assistive technology and a speech by Hannah Rose, a young assistive technology user, who highlighted the life changing importance of assistive technologies.
Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE, Britain’s celebrated Paralympic swimmer, followed on to discuss the empowering nature of assistive technologies in his journey through life. There are millions of similar examples of how assistive tech is transformational, he continued, not as a solution but as an enabler alongside everything else.
Leonard Cheshire spoke next and reflected on the extraordinary attitudinal changes to disability over the last 25 years and highlighted that there still remains a significant and unnecessary employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people.
The APPG AT will occupy an important space in the dialogue about employment and disability policy, more so now given the rapid pace of technological change. The first workstream for the APPG AT will be focused around addressing the disability employment gap. This is not only good for individuals but for the workforce as a whole.
Finally Becky Foreman, the UK Corporate Affairs Director for Microsoft (event sponsors) concluded the talks with a short speech on Microsoft’s mission to empower every human being and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.