Microsoft and Enable Ireland have joined forces today to announce a new commitment to embed AI into the Assistive Technology Passport which is being developed to empower people with disabilities to have an independent life. The announcement marks the 20th anniversary of Microsoft’s partnership with Enable Ireland.
Microsoft and Enable Ireland have been collaborating on the role of Assistive Technology for twenty years. The partnership has been built on a shared vision of enabling technology to transform the lives of people with disabilities and to empower them to achieve more. The idea for the AT Passport came from a discussion paper published by Enable Ireland in 2016 with the support of Microsoft and Disability Federation of Ireland. The focus of this paper was about bringing the idea of the AT Passport to life in Ireland and today’s announcement marks the next phase in this process and will see Microsoft and Enable Ireland work with Maynooth University to make this idea a reality.
Research has shown that the provision of AT services is often fragmented, difficult to navigate and not user centric. The AT Passport is a personal record of all of the relevant information about an individual’s requirement for AT including the necessary referrals, eligibility and training requirements and can support users to access the training and supports they need. Once developed it will be a tool that will help to streamline the way in which people gain access to Assistive Technology – equipment, training and funding and has the potential to ensure that those who need Assistive Technology can get it and, as a result, experience greater autonomy in their own lives.
Speaking today Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, Microsoft Ireland said: “At Microsoft we believe that technology can play a key role in driving positive and progressive change across every aspect of our lives, unlocking new and exciting opportunities for everyone in society. Assistive technology can transform the lives of people with disabilities ensuring they have the tools, skills and support to be independent and live a life with no limits. That is why we have been supporting Enable Ireland’s life-changing work for over 20 years and why today we are announcing a collaboration with them to develop the Assistive Technology Passport.”
“Technology empowers us all to achieve more everyday but for a person living with a disability it can be the difference of being able to engage with the world and not. The idea of an AT passport was something we really wanted to help bring to life with Enable Ireland and the funding we’re providing will do this while also ensuring that we embed AI into the functionality of the passport. We’re really excited to see this project brought to life.”
Today just 1 in 10 people with a disability who require AT have access to it. In order to ensure that technology can deliver real progress and change for everyone in society we must equip those with disabilities with the technology they need and ensure that their families, carers, employers and educators have the necessary training. Scaling the AT Passport internationally has the potential to achieve a truly global impact.
John O’Sullivan, CEO of Enable Ireland said: “I am thrilled to be part of the announcement today of a deepening of our collaboration with Microsoft Ireland. We have enjoyed a great relationship with Microsoft over the last 20 years, which has allowed us to provide Ireland’s only accredited course in AT and for their continued commitment which will help us to develop an AT passport. I believe that an AT passport will help to ensures that those who need AT have access to it. Technology is able to provide truly life changing assistance to people with disabilities by enabling them to live and achieve independence. Research has shown that the provision of AT services is sometimes disjointed, unclear and not designed around the end user. By developing an AT passport, we believe it will be less ambiguous for users to access the support and training they require.”
For further details on this initiative follow Enable Ireland on www.enableireland.ie/at.