Date: Thursday, February 17, 2022
Current Super Chair of the SIGs and PSGs
Meet Vince Schiappa, Super Chair of the SIG/PSG committees and a former RESNA Board member. In his role as Super Chair, Vince also serves on the Governance and Conference committees.
How did you get your start in assistive technology?
I feel like most people within the industry fall into it in some way. It is not an industry most people say they are looking to get into when they are looking at professions. I was working at the Red Cross, realized I wanted to do more so I applied to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh in Rehabilitation Technology. The program introduced me to assistive technology in various ways. The classes included funding and policy, clinical applications, product design, and ethics. They provided me with an opportunity to see assistive technology from different viewpoints and the program allowed me to network with established professionals within the field.
How have you seen the field of assistive technology develop over the years?
I have been able to see assistive technology become accepted by a new generation. I think assistive technology has grown to a point of universal acceptance and that is a direct result of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) implementation over 30 years ago and advocacy from clients, health professionals, and organizations such as RESNA.
What have been your volunteer roles within RESNA?
I started volunteering as a SIG and PSG member. I feel like this is the easiest way to contribute and it is an amazing way to network. I was able to work on a position paper and then was appointed to the Board by President Mary Ellen Buning. Now I’m “Super Chair” of the SIG/PSG Committees, and in that role, I also serve on the Governance and Conference Committees. When it comes to volunteering, you can commit 1 hour per month or 10 and it is all up to how much you want to contribute. I think contributing at least a little bit is able to assist the organization as a whole while ultimately helping the clients we work with at the end of the day.
Which PSG are you most involved with?. How do you benefit from this community?
It would be the engineers and technologists. I think they bring individuals with a similar profession together for collaboration and discussion. The engineers and technologists group is unique as it is the group in the RESNA name and it provides a place for rehabilitation engineers and technologists to call home. There really is not a place for us outside of RESNA to come together.
Why do you choose to volunteer with RESNA?
I choose to volunteer with RESNA because it provides us with a way to collaborate and network. It is a home for anyone from any professional background to discuss and collaborate on projects relating to assistive technology. It benefits everyone involved and, at the end of the day, the client benefits the most. I think that is the reason we are all in this industry and RESNA provides us with a way to do that.
Do you have any advice for AT professionals or those new to the field?
Think about why you are getting into the field. I hope everyone gets involved to help people and that should be the motivation.
Anything additional you would like to share?
Part of volunteering is devoting your time and effort to assist with moving the field of assistive technology forward. I think it is important to know that volunteering does not have to consume all of your extra time and a little effort goes a long way. The more people who are involved, the better the experience for everyone.