Chris making speech at launch event in Speaker's House with guide dog Lottie

Launch of Parliamentary Group on Assistive Technology

Chris is delighted to be elected Co Chair of a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Assistive Technology. The group aims to disseminate knowledge and generate debate. As well as facilitating engagement and a greater understanding of assistive technology amongst members of parliament.

Aims of the group

The group is supported by a number of organizations ranging from academic institutions to manufacturers of assistive technology and disability charities. On the day of the launch a group of key stakeholders met to discuss aims and objectives. One key issue raised was the unacceptably high disability employment gap (40% of disabled people are unemployed compared to 5% of non-disabled population). Assistive technology can play an important role in removing barriers to employment for people with disabilities.

Questions were also raised over what was perceived as limited dialogue between the industry and government, and departments with government. It is hoped that this group will help address this communication and understanding gap and lead to far greater access to assistive technology for far more people.

Why it is so important

The group had invited Hannah Rose to share her experiences of using assistive technology after she was paralyzed from the neck down at the age of fifteen. Hannah uses various products including mobility aids, environmental controls (allowing her to turn off the lights and switch TV channel independently) and drag and dictate software (allowing her to use a computer). Thanks to this assistive technology, Hannah enjoys a significant degree of autonomy and loves her job at Cheshire Police HQ. She jokes about how difficult it was to convince officers that she had found a job when she was trying to sign off incapacity benefits.

Access to employment is important but assistive technology is not only about jobs. It is about enabling people in a far broader sense, to live independent and fulfilling lives. It is about finding and making available the tools that allow people to overcome barriers and Chris relishes the challenge of  working with the group to make sure that happens.

Policy Connect provide the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Assistive Technology or APPGAT