RESNA > Resources > International Efforts

International Efforts

RESNA is engaged in a number of international efforts to promote the fields of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology; advocate for access to technology solutions for people with disabilities; and facilitate the exchange of ideas, research, and technologies. For more information about our international alliances, or to become involved, please contact the RESNA office

United Nations Consultative Status

RESNA has consultative status at the United Nations (UN) as the world’s leading authority in the fields of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology. This designation allows RESNA to participate in UN meetings and provide expert testimony on issues related to people with disabilities, assistive technology, and rehabilitation engineering. Most recently, RESNA participated in the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 23, 2013 in New York City to discuss how disability and assistive technology should be mainstreamed in the post-2015 UN Development Agenda.

Link to Open Letter to the UN General Assembly on "mainstreaming" disability issues into the international development agenda

Link to press release announcing UN status

World Health Organization

RESNA is involved in an ongoing effort led by the World Health Organization focusing on redefining the field of assistive technology and ensuring that global access to AT is achieved. The primary focus of this effort is to eliminate the current disparity that exists in those who are able to access AT due to their socioeconomic status and ability to access services, rather than need. The current gap in access to AT will only be magnified in the future by the immense projected growth in the aging population –  people over 60 years represent 21 percent of the world’s population now, but will represent nearly 40 percent in 2050, an increase from 841 million to more than 2 billion.

Meeting these challenges is the goal of the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology or GATE, a WHO partnership between the technical expertise of AT researchers and professionals and the business know-how of industry and other national and international stakeholder groups. GATE is a merger of expertise, competence and entrepreneurial ingenuity towards innovative AT development, production, distribution and financing solutions designed to meet the crucial, and ever-increasing need to secure access to AT for all who need it, across the globe.

RESNA is currently involved in the preparation of a white paper outlining new strategies and approaches to solve these current issues and disparities and will be leading several working groups that will be established by the WHO.

Link to article about GATE and RESNA's participation


The Alliance of Assistive Technology Professional Organizations


The Alliance of Assistive Technology Professional Organizations is a formal agreement between membership-based professional societies and associations who are working to advance the field of assistive technology and rehabilitation engineering to benefit people with disabilities and functional limitations of all ages. The intent of this Alliance is to promote communication and information exchange, support each other’s efforts, and speak with a more unified voice on international issues. Participants in the Alliance will work to identify areas of common concern, develop joint strategies, and promote dialogue and collaboration that benefits its memberships. The agreement reflects a joint commitment to improving access to assistive technology through research, policy advocacy, training, information sharing, and knowledge translation. In addition to RESNA, signatories include the national or regional organizations representing the field in Europe, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The organizations are:


  • Taiwan Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society (TREATS)

RESNA believes that this effort will provide value to its own members, many of whom are involved in international work. Alliance activities will support rather than compete with other international networks.

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International Special Interest Group

RESNA's International Special Interest Group, or I-SIG, is a forum for RESNA members and others who are interested and/or active in providing services or conducting research relative to assistive technology in developing countries and other resource limited environments. Through participating in this forum and establishing networks, individual members benefit from the shared experiences of other International SIG members and have opportunities to collaborate on international assistive technology projects. 

Visit the I-SIG webpage to learn more

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

RESNA supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), an international treaty that outlines the obligations of ratifying countries to promote, protect, fulfill and ensure the rights of people with disabilities. While Canada and 150 other countries have ratified the treaty, the United States Senate has yet to do so. Please see the Government Relations webpage for more information, or visit the CRPD ratification campaign webpage