Letter from the President - December 2019


Letter from the President - December 2019

Date: Friday, December 20, 2019
Category: Blog

Dear RESNA Members,

Mary Ellen Buning HeadshotAs 2019 comes to a close, now is a great time to stop and look back at a year full of activity and progress.

Of course, for RESNA as a membership organization, the biggest change has been our steady progress in transitioning to a new structure using association management services provided by SmithBucklin. We have had excellent support in making this transition with the help of Andrea Van Hook, now serving as our executive director, and other SmithBucklin staff. This transition will be complete on January 1, 2020 and we anticipate an even greater capacity to support RESNA members’ professional development and educational needs. It has been very rewarding to play a key role in this process and to have the support and guidance of a strong and dedicated executive committee and board of directors.

2020 promises to be just as busy, if not busier. In February, we are pleased to host the ADED training course, “Application of Adaptive Vehicle Modifications” at our new office (2020 M Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036).  Adaptive driving is a key support for AT users in allowing them to live independently and access employment. This two-day course will offer 1.5 CEUs, and it’s our first joint event with ADED.

2020 also means the RESNA Annual Conference is back in all its glory, July 7-10 at the Hyatt Regency in Arlington, Virginia. Doug Gayton, our 2020 Conference Chair, and the committee have been working hard this fall on selecting invigorating workshops and instructional courses. Registration opens in January, so keep an eye out for that.

In addition, I’m proud to announce that the AT Journal will go from five to six issues, in our continuing effort to publish quality assistive technology research. Look for new webinars from our SIGs and PSGs, new and updated publications from the Assistive Technology Standards Board, updates on position papers and much more as the year rolls along. Finally, after a ton of work by the Education Committee, we plan to roll out an update of the Fundamentals course during the second half of the year.  It’s the involvement and passion of so many volunteers that makes all of this possible, so thank you! 

As president of RESNA, 2019 has been rich in a lot of ways. Here are some other highlights from this past year:

  • I was able to represent RESNA at the ATIA (Assistive Technology [AT] Industry Association) Conference in Orlando in February 2019. This conference attracts K-12 educators, special educators (teachers of deaf, blind, and intellectually impaired students) and rehabilitation counselors. It offers lots of sessions on how to use, combine and improve their use of AT with those with these impairments.
  • I also attended the International Seating Symposium (called the ISS) held this year in Pittsburgh PA and sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh and the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology.  This conference, which is held every other year in either Pittsburgh or Vancouver, is focused on the design and use of ultralight manual and powered wheelchairs as well as specialized seating for those who need postural support or skin protection. New mobility products are often showcased at these conferences. I was able to attend RESNA International SIG’s breakfast at ISS, which is an opportunity for international RESNA members to network with each other, as well as an opportunity to promote RESNA’s Seating and Mobility Specialist Certification.
  • This past summer RESNA participated in the formation of GAATO, the Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organizations at a meeting in Europe though participation by Roger O. Smith, RESNA’s Past President. Learn more about this collaborative project and its development during GAATO’s first year here
  • Maureen Linden was invited to Australia to Speak at the iCREATE Conference in Canberra in late August. Maureen was asked to share information with AT and Rehab Engineering professionals there and in nearby Asia who wanted to know more about developing practice certification.
  • At the RESNA Conference which was part of RehabWeek held in Toronto, I was privileged to do a presentation with Dr. Marcia Scherer, a rehabilitation psychologist who has been a leading mind in the development of AT practice. Much of her work is available online for new practitioners to use.

I am so glad you are a RESNA member.  It has been my privilege to serve as your president and I look forward to this coming year. My role has been greatly supported by RESNA staff and the many dedicated RESNA volunteers who serve on the board, chair committees for special interest groups and take on roles with “ad hoc committee” projects and special assignments. RESNA is a vibrant community of people who love what they do. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally if I can help you connect with other members or projects. I’m always interested in talking to my fellow RESNA peeps. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Yours in assistive technology,



Mary Ellen Buning, PhD, OTR/L, ATP/SMS, RESNA Fellow 

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