Date: Monday, October 31, 2022
RESNA Education Committee Chair and 2023 Scientific Paper Chair Marta Figueiredo shares her thoughts about the future of education within RESNA.
How did you get your start in assistive technology?
I started my AT career in 2000 at a cerebral palsy center. Throughout the years, I continued my professional development within the area, never settling for only what was available and presented to me in my country (Portugal), but exploring the world of AT outside its borders. After some time, I was invited to be the technical director of a major sales company in my country and the professional development and learning continued. I was also invited to join an European wheelchair manufacturer, as international sales manager (although never losing my Occupational Therapists identity) and this provided another wonderful opportunity to understand further the manufacturing process and allowed me to have a better overview of the AT industry provision services. Through all these years, I was acquainted with RESNA and with ISWP (International Society of Wheelchair Professionals). With ISWP, I had the opportunity and joy to be part of its credential project development, as well as part of other products development. RESNA was always there, in my mind and work, and finally I dared to apply in 2019 for the call of volunteers to the Education Committee.
How have you seen the field of assistive technology develop over the years?
More and more bridges between AT professionals are being strengthened so that no one is left behind and that evidence-based practices, education and research come together. Knowledge is not so self-contained within specific industry areas, but rather closer to all involved in this area of AT, including and reinforcing the active participation of the end user. I look forward to further developments, especially in the consolidation of worldwide provision, expansion of access, knowledge to and of AT, regardless of where you are in the globe.
Your perspectives as an international member of RESNA:
Being an international member of RESNA has given me a sense of added responsibility, but also the privilege to share and raise awareness of RESNA activities, products and opportunities, knowing its beneficial impact in the industry, professionals and end users. I believe that being an international member allows me to bring different perspectives to RESNA that contribute to the diversity, usability and internationalization of RESNA content and education.
Why do you choose to volunteer with RESNA?
I choose to volunteer with RESNA because I believe in the importance of people with the same interests coming together for a greater good. I am a team player and RESNA is a team that supports the AT community worldwide. RESNA is a reference that has international impact; Hence being able to volunteer and contribute is not only a privilege but also a responsibility that I choose to take on.
What have been your volunteer roles within RESNA?
Since 2019 I am proudly part of the Education Committee, and was appointed chair this last August 2022 by President Carmen DiGiovine. I am thankful for the trust and committed to the task.
In addition, since 2020 I have been part of the Conference Planning Committee, more specifically regarding Scientific Papers, having also been appointed as Chair/Lead of Scientific Papers since November 2021.
I am keen of performing these tasks and roles to the best of my ability and knowledge with a team mindset, cooperation and understanding, and a focus on RESNA members and AT professionals.
Work on the Education committee:
Since I started in the Education Committee, I have learned very much from all of my fellow committee members. I also have had the opportunity to contribute in a variety of ways. It is a place to co-create and develop together, focusing and with the understanding that this will contribute to more informed, knowledgeable, and supported AT field professionals. I had the opportunity to be involved in several sub-committees and to dive-deep in some subjects. This gave me the possibility to have a better understanding and overview of this committees’ goals and its importance and impact within RESNA.
Nothing is achieved without dedication, time-commitment, and effort, which I am most glad to have put in and to continue to do so, because I believe that RESNA current and future educational products make the difference and are reference.
Do you have any advice for AT professionals or those new to the field?
I wouldn’t like to call it an advice, but rather a suggestion: connect, talk, co-create and learn from others. – Your questions are sure to be other colleagues’ questions, even if at a different moment in time, so let’s grow together within the AT field. All involved input is valuable and important.
Anything additional you would like to share?
Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts with RESNA community. I feel most honored and humble. I hope to inspire and motivate others to be part, learn and develop with RESNA.