KEEPING PACE WITH (ASSISTIVE) TECHNOLOGY is the title of a European Project funded by the European Commission under the Leonardo da Vinci Programme.
The KPT project (October 2004 to March 2007, involves a large international consortium of Assistive Technology (AT) centres, universities, training organisations, organisations representing professionals in health, social services and vocational training, and people with disabilities (for a full list, see the partner list). The project is coordinated by Ausilioteca, the AT Centre of AIAS Bologna ONLUS, an association for people with disabilities and their families.
Technology is developing rapidly and one of the major challenges of the inclusive society is to enable people with disabilities to benefit from available technologies. The project's target audience is professionals supporting people with disabilities, ie professionals who need to be aware of the impact AT can have on the lives of their clients, but who lack the opportunity to update their knowledge or to find AT-related support in managing cases. In many universities, and even in initial professional training, very little is done to fill this knowledge gap.
Guidelines have been developed within the project to direct and support such training provision to the target audience. The guidelines refer to different ways of learning in a lifelong learning perspective and contain frameworks for competency development that are related to on the European Qualifications framework (EQF). Examples of training units that meet these guidelines have also been developed.
The project outcomes will be useful to staff members of AT centres responsible for training and support, university teachers, employers in health, social services and vocational training. A specific user group will be formed by professionals developing policy in (continuing) vocational training. These potential users will be informed of the outcomes of the project, which will be made available through this website and a publication in English, Italian and Dutch.
The aim of the project is to meet the lifelong learning needs of professionals working with people with disabilities in health services, social services and vocational training (doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, social workers, educators, rehabilitation engineers, trainers, tutors, psychologists). The project focuses on the skills development associated with AT applications, in particular on the three areas where technology develops rapidly: communication aids, computer access, and environmental control. The target audience indicate that they often lack the specific competences needed to understand how technological aids can support rehabilitation, independent living and social inclusion programmes that are tailored to the individual needs of people with disabilities. One of the reasons is the rapid development of assistive technology which quickly outdates any initial training knowledge of the target audience. Another reason is the lack of knowledge of the key factors that result in successful AT intervention, such as interdisciplinary teamwork, appropriate intervention timing, and good case management. These professionals can make their interventions more effective and efficient if they have access to appropriate learning opportunities in a lifelong learning perspective.
Many professionals in the target group have university qualifications, but lack opportunities to update their knowledge or to find AT-related support in case management. Across Europe there are a number of AT centres that work in close contact with local services, normally in responding to the needs of AT users and bringing in their specific competence on inclusive technologies. Recognised as important resources by public authorities, the number of independent AT centres is rising, and providing training and support to professionals in the field is one of their main activities. Nevertheless, not all these centres have as yet optimised their training practice, and European initiatives such as this project aim to respond to training needs of professionals. The collaboration between universities and AT centres is an important step in improving the quality of AT education and training.Download the project flyer