One of the goals of my Bush Foundation Fellowship that I received in 2019, was to meet with others around the world to see what they were doing in the area of assistive technology and bring back ideas to ND Assistive. Despite a two-year COVID interruption, I was able to finally travel to Europe in May 2022. After a two-week excursion, my two favorite places to visit were Bologna, Italy, and Geneva, Switzerland.
In Bologna, I had the opportunity to tour AIAS Bologna Onlus and the Centro Regionale AUSILI. They host a fantastic assistive technology facility with an impressive, smart, adapted apartment. This apartment is a full-size dwelling with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, den, and living room. One of the best parts of their smart, adapted apartment was their amazing kitchen with so many possibilities! I especially loved the disappearing oven door, the two-drawer refrigerator, and the sink/stove combo with its crank adjustable height countertops. It was very enlightening to see what they offered, and I want all of it in our Demonstration Centers here in North Dakota!
After the tour, I sat down with three of the wonderful people that work there, Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf, Lorenzo Desideri, and Massimiliano Malavasi, and we discussed all of the terrific things they are doing for the people in Italy.
In Geneva, I met with Chapal Khasnabis, Head (a.i) of the Access to Assistive Technology and Medical Devices Unit, and Kylie Shae OAM, Technical Officer, from the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland last month. These two wonderful people have a long history of helping people with disabilities with assistive technology.
We discussed many things including service delivery models and ways to improve access to and acquisition of assistive technology. They proved to be a wealth of information. I am looking forward to future collaborations with this great team!
I want to extend a big thank you to the Bush Foundation for this amazing experience! Before my Fellowship ends in October 2022, I hope to be able to travel one more time, but this time, a little closer to home. I plan to travel out east to visit as many State Assistive Technology Act Programs as I can in a short one-week timeframe. I hope to bring back a wealth of information to help ND Assistive continue to expand and improve our services and build the assistive technology capacity in our region.