Keynote Speakers

Speaker Profile:

Luc de Witte is currently president of the Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organisations (GAATO). He works as a professor of Technology for Healthcare at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Earlier he worked as a professor at the University of Sheffield in the UK, and at Maastricht University and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Luc trained as a medical doctor but has always worked on practice-oriented research in the field of rehabilitation and long-term care, including elderly care, care for people with mental or physical disabilities and care for people with chronic diseases. He has been active in the field of assistive technology for more than 25 years, co-authored more than 300 research papers and supervised more than 35 PhD students in different countries.

Topic: Advancing the field of Assistive Technology; global challenges and opportunities

According to the WHO 2.5 billion persons in the world require some kind of assistive technology, and this number is expected to grow. The vast majority of these persons do not have access to assistive technology and thus face major challenges in their everyday lives. At the same time our world is increasingly filled with all kinds of technology to support our lifestyle and enable us to live our lives to the fullest. This feels paradoxal: huge needs on the one hand, rapid technological advances on the other, and yet there is this huge gap. In this presentation I will first talk about the global need for assistive technology. Then I will discuss the many opportunities developments in technology offer to bridge the gap mentioned, but also some challenges we face when trying to bridge the gap. I will finish with a call for international collaboration in this field, including a short description of the ambitions and actions of the Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organisations (GAATO) to stimulate international collaboration.