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iPads and iPhones to feature in demonstration of assistive technology for people with spinal cord injury

Press Release   •   Oct 19, 2012 08:30 BST

The fourth Annual Aspire Assistive Technology Conference will feature touch screen tablets and phones as a potentially huge step forward in assistive technology for people paralysed by spinal cord injury. The Conference will take place next week on 23rd and 24th October at Portland College in Nottingham.

Aspire’s Assistive Technology Programme is designed to ensure that all patients in the Spinal Injury Centres have independent access to a computer. For people recovering from a spinal cord injury in hospital, often miles from home, access to the internet and accessible telephones is particularly important for keeping in touch with loved ones, accessing tools such as online banking, and for staying connected with the outside world. The Conference covers all aspects of technology that allows people with limited or no movement in their hands to be able to use equipment that most people take for granted every day. From voice recognition software to eye tracking technology that allows users to control mouse movement using their eyes, Aspire’s Assistive Technology Programme aims to make computers accessible to all spinal injured patients, regardless of the level of their injury.

With the advance in touch screen technology in phones and tablets, this year’s conference will demonstrate how this is being harnessed for use in spinal cord injury rehabilitation, along with updates on tried and tested solutions.

Andrew Kell, Aspire’s Assistive Technology Manager said,

“For people who have sustained a spinal cord injury and lack dexterity in their fingers, for example, something like an iPad or iPhone, which you tap and swipe or voice activate, can be much easier to use than a keyboard or mouse. It makes a big difference for some spinal injured people to be able to use these gadgets in the same way that everyone else does. However, there are still limitations, and we are also looking at new devices such as joystick and switch access that will make touch screen phones accessible to people with all levels of paralysis.”

The Conference provides a unique annual opportunity for NHS Occupational Therapists, Aspire staff and volunteers, and key funders – to come together to learn about new technology, pick up ways of working and share best practice. Many of Aspire’s volunteers are ex-patients themselves and are vital in helping newly injured people to learn how to use the technology.

Richard Allcroft is an Aspire Assistive Technology volunteer and was a wheelchair rugby technical official at the London 2012 Paralympics. He said,

"I use assistive technology in my daily life and I wouldn't have achieved some of the great opportunities that I’ve been involved in without it. I’ve worked with spinal injured people for many years and it makes a huge difference when they see that we can still use phones and computers. The Aspire Assistive Technology Conference is a great opportunity to find out what’s new, and hear how people have got on with different gadgets. Everyone is individual and will have to face different challenges so it’s important to keep on top of all the possible solutions that are available. Things are getting better all the time.”

The Assistive Technology programme is funded by James Tudor Foundation/

Aspire is a leading charity, supporting the 40,000 people living with Spinal Cord Injury in the UK through a range of services.
Every eight hours in the UK someone is paralysed by a Spinal Cord Injury; it can happen to anyone at anytime and no one is prepared for how it will change their life. Aspire exists because there is currently no cure for Spinal Cord Injury. We provide practical help to people who have been paralysed by a Spinal Cord Injury, helping them move from injury to independence.
The services that Aspire provides are Aspire Grants, Aspire Housing, Independent Living, Assistive Technology, Campaigning and Research.

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