Emerging Technologies SIG

Emerging Technologies SIG

Assistive technology professionals regularly evaluate, assess, and integrate new technologies into their practice to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities. The speed of contemporary advances and new innovations, however, can often be overwhelming. In addition, emerging technologies commonly arrive as generalized technology which is not geared specifically for persons with disabilities. Integrating emerging technology into assistive technology provision requires an ongoing effort, which includes discussing goals with the client, being familiar with existing and available technology, designing and matching the capability offered by new technology with the functional capacities of the client, implementing a design, and assessing the long term use of the technology. Limited time and exposure to new technologies may limit providers to be acquainted with only a few emerging technologies. Creating a centralized platform to assist in the sharing and exchange of knowledge between assistive technology providers, rehabilitation engineers, researchers and consumers would allow providers to more quickly adopt and use viable emerging technologies in their practice.

Mission Statement

The mission of the new Emerging Technologies SIG is to seek out new technology and innovations that can be used for persons with disabilities, to be the pioneers that assess and explore the use of the new technology, to distill and refine the best way to use the technology in practice, and to host a platform for discussion and education of emerging technology for assistive technology professionals, rehabilitation engineers, and other RESNA members.

Specifically, the SIG will provide a place to:

  • Discuss emerging technology and how it may pertain to assistive technology needs in the ongoing effort to improve the health and well-being of persons with disabilities
  • Present and discuss the engineering and infrastructure aspects of emerging technologies for/in assistive technology practice;
  • Discuss scientific methods to capture and measure the impact of emerging technologies for/in assistive technology practice;
  • Facilitate knowledge and information sharing on emerging technology, distilled from SIG members' personal experience/exposure to the technologies, which can be used by anyone searching for practical ways to integrate new technologies into assistive technology practice.


The long term objective of the SIG is to become a centralized hub to share knowledge of emerging technologies for RESNA members. As the first step to achieving this objective, the SIG proposes three short term objectives as the main activities for the first year:

  • Present a "Show and Tell" workshop session at the RESNA conference
  • Develop a blueprint to assess emerging technology and methods to utilize the technology in assistive technology practice;
  • Develop a wiki/blog-like web resource on emerging technology usage for persons with disabilities
  • Develop a forum to host the discussion of emerging technologies, including engineering/infrastructure aspects, implementation/integration into service aspects, and outcome aspects

Examples of Emerging Technologies 

The SIG does not limit the definition of emerging technologies used in assistive technology practice. Any non-traditional, generalized technologies that could have application in assistive technology practice can be explored and discussed. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • 3D printing
  • Smart glasses technology 
  • Virtual reality technology and the use of simulations/virtual reality 
  • Web-based and mobile health technology used to improve personal health for a person with disability
  • Apps used to improve a person with disability’s capacities in private, work and social setting
  • Adaptive technology used to provide accommodation in sport or competitive environment
  • Telecommunication technology used to connect a person with disability to their therapist remotely for rehab/therapy session (telehealth/telemedicine/telerehabilitation)
  • Robotics and exoskeletons


Co-Chair: Rich Schein, PhD, MPH
Email: richard.schein@pitt.edu

Co-Chair: Andi Saptono
Email: ans38@pitt.edu

Co-Chair: Emma Smith, PhD, MScOT, ATP/SMS
Email: emma.m.smith@gmail.com