C. Gerald Warren, MPA, PT
Born: June 3, 1938 - Flin Flon, Manitoba Canada
Entry into the AT field: 1977
How I got into the field
I was Coordinator of the research laboratory in the University of Washington Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and therapists constantly came to the lab wanting help to resolve problems they encountered in seeking independence for people with severe disabilities. My professional background includes a Bachelors in Physical Therapy and Masters in Public Administration/Social Management of Technology.
Important event(s) that influenced my early decision to get into the assistive technology field
There was no one event, just going onto the Rehab ward and doing something with relatively simple technology that gave a young person with quadriplegia even a small amount of control of life activities.
Why I chose the AT field
It evolved from being involved in R&D, the results of which began to transfer to practical solutions for people. My motivation for choosing the field is being able to cause a positive change in a person's independence.
My inspiration and mentor
While there is no person in particular, there are many like-minded colleagues.
Why the field is important to me and the central focus of my work
The assistive technology field is entrepreneurial. It allows you to help maximize the potential of a human resource. I was able to operate a successful and profitable, fee for service private practice in AT.
My memorable successes and greatest contributions to the field
There were many successes, but the best were those in which I was able to help a motivated person achieve their goal of independence. They always made me feel "warm and fuzzy." I consider one of my greatest contributions having led the charge in RESNA's professional development efforts that eventually evolved to become the credentialing of service providers.
My most memorable failures
The failures were not failures of the technology application but usually of circumstance in situations where unpredictable or unforeseen factors beyond immediate control scuttled the plan and the person did not achieve their goal. Most of the time there was nothing that could be done- you had to let go.
Significant changes and advances in the field since I first entered it
I believe the most significant change in the field is the transfer of technology to service delivery particularly electronic and digital. I consider the availability of processor driven solutions to be one of the most significant advances in the field. They allow us to provide significant extensions to the function and independence of people with severe disabilities.
On the future of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology
I believe it will continue to integrate as standard practice in rehabilitation and community based programs that serve to improve opportunities for people.
My role within RESNA and what it gave back to me
I've been a board member, President, Chair of committees such as Quality Assurance and Professional Standards. My participation in RESNA has given me the opportunity to gain a lot of useful knowledge and to meet and share with wonderful like-minded people.
On the future of RESNA
RESNA will continue to represent the people who's mission it is to develop and apply technology that will improve peoples lives.
My suggestions for those just entering the field
Become an entrepreneur who works to optimize the resources possessed by a person with at disability.