Date: Friday, July 10, 2020
Category: Member News
Maureen Linden is the Incoming President of RESNA. Her term as President starts in August 2020. Read more about Maureen on the RESNA website.
Tell us about your area of focus within Assistive Technology.
Throughout my career I have worked in both research and service delivery, in the areas of seating and mobility, and vocational rehabilitation and workplace accommodations. Recently, my focus has shifted to new and emerging technologies, working with manufacturers on policy changes to ensure that these are developed with accessibility in mind.
Why did you choose your specialty?
Any good research in this field keeps in mind what is going on in the clinic. You have to know what barriers people with disabilities face in the current climate, even with new tech that has becomes available. When I did pressure sore prevention work, I was working at Helen Hayes Hospital, and working with clinicians and people with disabilities directly helped me see how the research was applied on a daily basis. I’ve been doing primarily research for the past 15 years, though I do like to stay in touch with what’s going on with service delivery and how it informs the research. You always need to work from the patient up and providers are really critical to that.
How did you get into the field of AT?
After finishing my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, I wasn’t sure how I wanted to proceed. One of my professors pointed me to a young professor in the biomedical engineering department, Stephen Sprigle, who introduced me to the field. I was immediately hooked and applied to the department. The idea that I could apply my engineering background to further an engineering field with the predominant goal of helping people live their best life appealed tremendously to me.
How has RESNA advanced your career?
As an AT professional, RESNA is a little like coming home. When I was younger in my career, I would go to the conference and be immediately immersed in this positive energy around technology. It provides me with a network of people who are driven by the same things that drive me and understand the work I do. As a service provider, especially, you're not always necessarily surrounded by others doing AT. In RESNA, I found a group of people who really “got” what I was about and what I was going through daily. It exposed to me to a lot of ideas I wouldn't have gotten if I'd stayed close to home.
Looking forward, what excites you about RESNA’s future?
RESNA’s future lies in our ability to be flexible in the face of advancing technologies and ever-changing policies. I’m also excited about how the association itself has grown and evolved. On an operational level, I think it was a great step to start working with an association management firm. SmithBucklin’s expertise has already been instrumental in streamlining our internal processes. With that specialized expertise in organization management at our disposal, RESNA can more efficiently advocate for its members and help represent the field of assistive technology. I’m confident that RESNA will keep growing and I’m excited to be here for it.
Do you have any general advice for AT professionals?
Keep learning. Stay open to new ideas and new technologies. People with disabilities are going to want to use the same technology that everyone else is using. As technology evolves, it creates new norms and activities that people with disabilities want to access. “Access” doesn’t look like it did five or ten years ago. It’s going to keep evolving and we AT professionals need to keep evolving with it.