An international conference on Assistive Technology (AT) titled ‘Forging the Assistive Technology Value Chain’ (FATVC ‘19) was organized on 18 – 19 January 2019 at Marigold Hall, National Institute of Speech & Hearing (NISH), Trivandrum by the Centre for Assistive Technology & Innovation (CATI, NISH) in collaboration with IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC), IEEE SIGHT (Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology) and Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council (K-DISC).
The event was successful in bringing together the various stakeholders in the AT value chain: from researchers and product developers to users who are people with disability. The conference provided them a common platform and encouraged the conversation to address the challenges in building an AT ecosystem in India. We had nearly 200 participants in the conference, from different parts of the country and some international participants as well. Our speakers were experts representing different domains in assistive technology and added great value to the overall atmosphere of the conference. We had lively panel discussions on formulating AT policy for the state of Kerala as well as one on the AT product development scenario in India. A public exhibit of AT products by different organizations and companies was also held in parallel to the conference on the two days. The exhibition had a good footfall with the crowds thronging the stalls to immerse in the world of AT.
To tap into the interest in AT created among students after our conference, NISH has partnered with Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in the ‘NISH makeathon on Assistive Technology’. Problem statements in AT were published and idea statements to solve these problems were invited from student teams from engineering colleges in Kerala. Shortlisting of the teams for the next phase is currently underway.