Enable Ireland’s National Assistive Technology Training Centre has received a gold medal from the European Commission for its innovative use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for people with disabilities. This medal is in recognition of the launch of Ireland’s first National AT Training Centre, by Enable Ireland and with the support of Microsoft Ireland, in November 2007.

Assistive Technology (AT) is one of the major enablers in helping people with disabilities to live independently, access education and enter the workforce. With over 70% of AT being discarded due to a lack of training, Enable Ireland’s services are helping to bring the full benefits of the technology to the people who need it. AT also benefits those who either acquire injuries or disabilities at work who might otherwise have to retire or take sick leave. On a global scale the most conservative estimate of the related costs of Repetitive Strain Injury for example (RSI) runs into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Enable Ireland provides a range of AT training courses. However the growing demand for such training means there was a need for a full-time facility. As a result Enable Ireland, with support from Microsoft, has created Ireland’s first National Assistive Technology Training Centre. The new centre provides AT training and advice all year round to an estimated 700 people.

Speaking today from the award ceremony, Siobhan Long, manager of the National High Tech Assistive Technology Service said: “It’s a great honour to receive this recognition from the European Commission. We passionately believe in the potential of AT to remove barriers that might previously have prevented people with disabilities from accessing education and employment. At a time of significant economic downturn, it is even more important that we retain sight of the potential for these technologies to make a real and tangible difference to the lives of people with disabilities. I would also like to thank Microsoft for their support in helping us to open our AT centre and for their continued support since it’s opening.”

e inclusion 015

Pictured: Minister of State, Dept of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Sean Power, T.D., and Siobhán Long, Manager of Enable Ireland’s National Assistive Technology Training Service at the E-Inclusion awards in Vienna.

You can find out more about Microsoft’s community programmes here.

You can visit Enable Ireland online here.