India today is a nation of massive and unprecedented economic development, a complex society shaped by regional and cultural identities, a country undergoing enormous social transformation, and a nation of over 1.2 billion people with an estimate of over 22 million people with disabilities.
India is also a nation historically under-resourced when it comes to service delivery for PWDs, particularly the most vulnerable CWDs. In response there are now efforts underway to map, identify, screen and support children who are not currently enrolled in school, including CWDs. In support of such an inclusive vision, Assistive Technology (AT) stands to shape those opportunities—from home, to school, at the workplace, and in the community—yet the needs & challenges are substantial.
For PWDs, access is everything. It determines opportunity and shapes quality of life by providing opportunities for personal development. Those in need of accessible and affordable AT represent an enormous and growing segment of the nation. India America Assistive Technology Exchange’s core objectives are designed to:
- Build and support an international exchange of professionals providing services across multiple settings
- Create and host an annual exchange of IAATE partners with on-site practicums in AT
- Educate PWDs and their families about national, regional and local AT resources
- Promote inclusive opportunities for PWDs and their families through the use of affordable, appropriate and practical AT development
Through IAATE we seek to establish an international professional development exchange between Indian and American educators, assistive technology specialists, healthcare professionals, AT vendors, engineers, and disability advocates. IAATE outcomes will link rural and urban school districts, higher education agencies and universities, and households to local and online AT training workshops, educational programming, and referral resources. With a design focus upon replicable, scalable and sustainable AT resources, we will identify, adapt and refine universal learning modules for use with all levels of students with disabilities in schools, at home, and in their communities.
The IAATE launched its inaugural online event on 9th November 2013 to promote assistive technology awareness and access for persons with disabilities and their families. The event was hosted in partnership with the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore where a diverse team of leaders gathered along with virtual participants throughout India and the United States across multiple time zones representing a wide range of assistive technology (AT) experience and expertise.