2020 has seen the formal birth of a new global organisation for assistive technology based in Geneva, Switzerland.
On the 24th June a Constituent Assembly was held by board members of the new Geneva based organisation, GAATO. The creating of the Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Associations marks the start of a new era in global cooperation in the field of assistive technology (AT). This alliance of membership organisations, all of whose global members work across the hugely diverse fields of assistive technology, are coming together for the first time with the shared vision of raising standards and availability of assistive products and services throughout the world.
The various domains of AT vary from assistive products such as mobility and communication devices to rehabilitation and inclusive educational service provision. GAATO has the ambition to connect and embolden the call for higher standards in all areas of AT and to raise the awareness of what outstanding contributions AT makes to the lives of those who need it by initially promoting the need for broader outcomes measurement throughout the sector.
Ordinarily, for the launch of such an important new body with ties to UN agencies, there would have been slightly more in person rejoicing and historic photographs taken next to recognisable Geneva landmarks, however given the global lockdown a colourful snap was taken instead by Natasha Layton (ARATA) of her computer screen. Needless to say that this has been the case for many auspicious events in 2020 and so perhaps the screenshots that fill our social media screens will be among the most historically memorable group shots of our careers, when we look back in the years to come.
One thing that 2020 has shown us is the gaping hole in caring for the vulnerable in our societies, particularly our elders. AT solutions have been championed for the digital sector in a way never previously believed possible and it has been the older members in our communities that have embraced this most remarkably.
As GAATO moves forward in developing its mission for 2021-22 it does so in the certainty that the world needs the knowledge of their members and that where they are able to harness their collaborative powers, truly great strides will be made in reaching all those that 2020 showed us were there and in need of listening to.