On the evening of Monday the 6th March, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT) was launched in Speaker's House in the Palace of Westminster.
Mr Speaker, the Rt Hon John Bercow, initiated proceedings by warmly welcoming the 100 guests from across parliament and the assistive technology (AT) sector and praising Seema Malhotra MP, the Chair of the APPGAT saying "She is both incredibly articulate and extremely persistent in championing causes that matter to her and to large number of colleagues across the house".
The Speaker conducted a review of services for people and children that require assistive with communication and learning ten years ago, when he was previously an MP. The Bercow report identified key areas of improvement across several sectors including health, education and social care. Mr Speaker referenced the on-going challenges during his speech when he said:
"I was taking evidence across the country with an advisory group, with some fantastic people on it and learning about the challenges people had and what they needed, by way of intervention, to help and where the dots needed to be more effectively joined up between health and education and in many cases also social care, and you may well say, these are familiar theme tunes and some of the problems when assessing services then, and continue to beset the services now"
Drawing his speech to a close and encouraging the members of the group and the AT sector as a whole, Mr Speaker went on to say "There are no final victories and there is much progress still to be made and a huge amount of hard work to be done...I am willing you to succeed."
The event then went on to hear contributions from Seema Malhotra MP, Lord Holmes of Richmond, Hannah Rose, author and assistive technology user, Becky Foreman from Microsoft and Neil Heslop, CEO of Leonard Cheshire Disability.
To read the Storify from the event, please click here.
Photography of the event can be found here.
Special thanks to Speaker's House, the Rt Hon John Bercow, all APPGAT Parliamentary Members, Corporate Members and Affiliate Members, and Microsoft for sponsoring this event.
For any further information about the APPGAT, please write to Katherine Perry, Manager of the group.
For media inquiries, please email Louise Young.