Exploring new technologies at RESNA

RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America) is a big annual rehabilitation engineering conference. This year it took place in Arlington, VA in July. The theme of this year’s conference, Promoting Access to Assistive Technology, was highlighting the problem that many clients and their occupational therapists aren’t aware of new technologies that could improve the health and well being of people with disabilities.

Jerzy Pacek attended on behalf of BCITS’s Technology for Independent Living Program (TIL).

Was this your first time at RESNA?

Yes, it was my first time at a RESNA conference. BCITS usually sends one biomed every year. But we rotate so everybody gets to go one time.

How did you spend your time at the conference?

I attended one full day workshop, and as many presentations as possible during the 4 days. But like any conference that brings together a whole industry for just a few days, there was just not enough time to visit all the instructional courses, workshops, and paper presentations on offer.

What was the full day workshop about you attended?

The workshop’s title was Access to Mobile Devices for Individuals with Physical Disabilities and was presented by Emma M Smith from Jump Start Occupational Therapy. This company is actually from Vancouver. Emma discussed Android and iOS accessibility features that allow people with disabilities a greater range of control in interacting with their mobile devices. Her presentation included iOS Assistive Touch and Switch Controls.


With the advancements made, quadriplegics are now able to control mobile devices as well as anybody. What I learned in this workshop about iOS Switch Control will be brought to good use for TIL’s clients!

What were some other highlights?

There certainly was a wide range of low to high technologies, all geared to allowing people with disabilities to remain living in their homes and communities. One that really stood out for me was a presentation about Accessible Video Gaming for People with Neurological Disabilities presented by Erin Muston-Firsch and Patrick Wagner from Craig Rehabilitation Hospital. This workshop provided a very useful review of commercially available adaptive gaming devices and methods of modifying existing consumers products. It was very interesting to me as many of our TIL clients are young adults who often ask about commercially adapted gaming devices which could allow them to play games.

Between workshops and presentations I checked out the exhibition hall to explore new and exciting technologies. The most crowded booth was Kinova Robotics. Kinova showcased JACO, a robotic arm mounted on a power wheelchair.



RESNA 2017 will be held in New Orleans, LA.

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