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Hannah Rose reflects on her second trip to Parliament and gives her opinion on skills in relation to assistive technology after attending the first event by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology. The event was held in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Skills and Employment and discussed the demand for an upskilling of the workforces around supporting the users of assistive technology (AT).

On Thursday, June 22nd I attended the first meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT) at the House of Lords. I was really looking forward to another trip to London. As I had done this journey before the prospect of getting there was no longer daunting. Upon arrival at the House of Lords I was shown in by a very helpful gentleman who guided me through to the committee meeting room.

I was really excited to be invited and delighted to see some familiar faces. It was amazing to visit Parliament again and I was in awe of my surroundings. Lord Chris Holmes, Member of the House of Lords and Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer, chaired the meeting. This was the first meeting since the launch of the group in March and it was really nice to see everyone again.

There were three people giving evidence at the meeting. Anna Reeves DL, Centre Manager of ACE Centre was the first. She spoke about the necessity for assistive technology to be readily available to children in school, and the importance of people being provided with training to enable ongoing training on the equipment. She invited me to give my thoughts on the subject and I really appreciated being given the opportunity to share my views.

I explained that I was visiting schools to talk about being able to work despite having a disability thanks to assistive technology. I was really passionate about getting the message across to the children that if you have the right support and equipment available, along with the skills to use that equipment, then it is always possible to gain independence.

I wanted to make it clear that my hope is that one day I will be not be the exception to the rule, and that with the use of assistive technology people with disabilities would have more options and access to the things they would like to do. 

There were many questions and observations which encouraged everyone to think of the challenges that may arise when trying to improve access to assistive technology and the skills that are necessary to support people when using them. The meeting lasted for a couple of hours. It was informative, thought provoking and positive, and definitely gave everyone food for thought! Anna invited me to have the closing words of the day.

I expressed my opinion that increased access to assistive technology would result in greater inclusivity and independence for people with a disability or impairment. I feel very strongly that other people should be given the same opportunities I have been given.

However, I also understand that everybody's needs are different, and there will definitely be challenges along the way before assistive technology will be readily available to everyone who needs it. The whole afternoon was really interesting and I look forward to any future meetings that will take place. 

 

Written by Hannah Rose, author of "Hannah: Same both Ways"