GREAT 2017 – A great step towards a new AT future!
Research article Open access | Available online on: 10 November, 2019 | Last update: 10 November, 2019
Between the 23rd and 26th of April, Qatar was the host of one of the most prominent international conference dedicated to Assistive Technology: GREAT 2017. Almost 30 speakers from around the world took the stage and nourished the overwhelming audience with up to date information, trends, hot topics and current global debates, technologies, services and AT products.
Under the High Patronage of Qatar Ministry of Transport and Communications, organized by Mada in association with ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association, USA) and Ministry of Education and Higher Education, GREAT 2017 aimed to provide a knowledge platform by bringing together teachers, educators, academics and technology and product developers to share their know-how and to initiate new dialogue avenues marked by new discoveries, best practices, strategies and R&D.
Hundreds of mainstream and special educators and teachers, school managers, speech therapists, occupational and physical therapists, parents, doctors, policy makers attended the conference, in both its stages.
The first two days, 23rd and 24th of April, were dedicated to a pre-c onference module which was targeting professionals needing to get in touch with some of the best AT trainers in the world, amongst whom we mention Joy Smiley Zabala, Dr. Therese Willkomm, Gayl Bowser and Beth Poss.
The conference debuted with full throttle on the 25th, when both the organizers and the sponsors put the GREAT 2017’s unique content on its sailing course. No less than 25 keynote presentations and sessions were held during the two days, on a variety of topics in English and Arabic. Studying the audience, we were happy to see that the greatest interest in attending the conference was coming from the education and healthcare sectors. Among the personalities who took the floor were Nadine N. Zeinoun, Mike Park, Ahmed Elsheikh, Dr. Abd Al Kareem Al Hussein, Dr. Ahmed Khater and many others.
Overall, GREAT 2017 had an enormous, positive impact on the AT community in the Gulf region, from a political and a professional perspective. The content we’ve generated through our media presence (more than 60 articles and two TV reports) reached millions of people in a broader audience, meaning that our goal of improving the perception towards how we address the societal issue of PwDs better inclusion was achieved.
This conference was not only about achieving something, it was also about empowering this Assitive Technology “elite” to deliver their messages and ‘know-how’ to a larger audience, and to show the whole region’s opinion leaders and policy makers that we are on the proper course as an inclusive nation.