No. 3

Message from the President
Is Disability an Outdated Term in an Aging World? 
Ray Grott, RESNA President

We all know that aging is an important topic these days, as was underscored at our recent conference's plenary session on "Assistive Technology in a Global Community." Representatives from the World Health Organization and RESNA's sister organizations in Europe (AAATE) and South Korea (RESKO) all spoke about the aging of the world-wide population and the related challenges and opportunities for assistive technology professionals.


Assistive technology is generally defined as items and services "used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities." Along these same lines, RESNA is "dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities through increasing access to technology solutions." That's all well and good, until you stop to consider that most people who are older or "aging" and who are experiencing functional limitations do not consider themselves as having a disability, even when their need for assistance becomes significant. 

Would we be more inclusive by always referring to aging as well as disability? Or why not, as some have suggested, drop the reference to "disability" within RESNA and just use a more inclusive term, such as "functional limitations?"

Welcome New Board Members
Three new board members are starting their three-year terms on August 1, after having been elected recently by  the membership. The three new members are: 
  • Mary Ellen Buning, PhD, OTR/L, ATP/SMS
  • Carmen DiGiovine, PhD, ATP/SMS, RET
  • Meghan Donahue, MS, ATP
In addition to the three elected board members, RESNA President Ray Grott will be appointing two additional members to one-year terms. Those appointments will be announced shortly. 

To read the bios of the new board members, please visit the Board of Directors page on the website. 

Government Relations Update
CRT Expo Held on Capitol Hill 
RESNA members Ginger Walls and Ann "Weesie" Walker at the CRT Expo
In an effort to educate Members of Congress and their staff about complex rehab technology, several organizations joined together to hold a "CRT Expo" on Capitol Hill. On display were CRT manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, wheelchair accessories, and other CRT items.  Over the course of three hours attendees were able stop in and talk directly with consumers, clinicians, providers and manufacturers to hear about the access challenges that exist and how Congress can help. RESNA Executive Director Michael Brogioli participated in the event.  The effort was very successful, with several congressional staff members stopping by to learn about the technology. Thank you to the United Spinal Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and NCART for hosting the event. 

CRT Accessories Bill Introduced

A bill that would provide a technical correction to stop CMS from applying competitive bid pricing to complex rehab wheelchair accessories has been introduced into the House of Representatives by Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY). The bill number is H.R. 3229. Advocates expect the U.S. Senate to begin circulating a sign-on letter asking the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to rescind this policy. See NCART update


Support Continues to Grow for CRT Bill

Support continues to grow for the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act (S. 1013/H.R. 1516), which was re-introduced earlier this year by Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY).  As of this past month, the bill now has more than 120 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 12 in the Senate. RESNA, along with member organizations in the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, is supporting the bill. The bill would create a separate benefit category under Medicare for complex rehabilitation technology (CRT), streamlining access to these individually configured products. For more information, visit 


President Obama Signs Steve Gleason Act 

President Obama signed the Steve Gleason Act (H.R. 1919, S.984) into law on Thursday, July 20. This legislation, which received bipartisan support, allows for the immediate purchase and transfer of ownership for speech-generating devices (SGDs) and will remove these devices from CMS capped-rental requirements. It will also clarify Medicare coverage of eye-tracking technology and eye-tracking accessories.  RESNA supported this legislation. It is named after former professional football player Steve Gleason, who is now battling ALS. See article that appeared in RESNA Newsbriefs


RESNA's Government Affairs Committee is chaired by Nathan Moon. See the Government Relations webpage for more information. 


RESNA/NCART 2016 Conference 
RESNA/NCART is July 12-15, 2016 in Arlington, Virigina
It's already time to start thinking about next year's conference! Get involved and submit a workshop, instructional course, or scientific paper to RESNA/NCART 2016, the first-ever collaboration between these two organizations. Submission deadlines are: 
  • October 19, 2015 - Workshop and instructional course submissions
  • January 15, 2016 - Scientific and student scientific papers
  • April 4, 2016 - Student Design Competition registration
  • April 18, 2016 - Student Design Competition project submission 
RESNA/NCART 2016 will feature the best of both conferences, including:
  • Clinically-focused workshop sessions 
  • Scientific research platform and poster sessions 
  • Professional development and leadership training 
  • Interactive exhibits with free public hours 
  • Capitol Hill visits 
  • Networking events 
  • Student competitions 
  • Instructional courses, including RESNA's Fundamentals in Assistive Technology Course
NRRTS is a partner of the RESNA/NCART 2016 Conference. Find out more
AT&T, NYU Announce Winners of Connect Ability Challenge
AT&T Event
Neil Giacobbi, AT&T; Anita Perr, NYU Ability lab; Victor Calise, NYC Mayor's Office; Michael Brogioli, RESNA
RESNA announces "People's Choice" award at event 

Marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, RESNA Executive Director Michael Brogioli joined Senator Charles Schumer, AT&T, and New York University's ABILITY lab on Monday, July 27 in New York City to award more than $100,000 to nine high-tech solutions in the culmination of the Connect Ability Challenge. The three month challenge was designed to spur innovation for people with physical, social, emotional and cognitive disabilities. 


RESNA was a proud partner of the competition, and members Anita Perr, Jerry Weisman, and Paul Schwartzman participated as organizers and judges. 


The "People's Choice" award, so named because it was the entry that won the most votes from the public, went to LOLA, which stands for "Laugh Out Loud Aid." It is a funny digital tool that sends the user reminders about social and living skills, such as remembering to say "please" and "thank you." The developer,, a non-profit in New York City, won a $2,500 prize. LOLA also won an additional $10,000 prize as "Best Social/Emotional Solution." A student with Asperger's who is a member of came up with the idea for the tool. 


Read more about the Connect Ability Challenge and the other winners

AT Standards Board News
RESNA Standards Committee on Emergency Stair Travel Devices (ESTD) seeks new members -
this committee is seeking members to represent the following areas: consumers, code developers/code enforcement, researchers, consultants, testing organizations and facilities, building owners and managers, and insurance. Read more about the ESTD committee

RESNA Standards Committee on Wheelchair and Related Seating (WRS) seeks new members
the purpose of this committee is to develop and maintain standards for wheelchair seating devices that are intended to provide postural support and/or tissue integrity management for individuals who use wheelchairs. The  committee is seeking representation from the following areas: consumer, advocate or caregiver; clinician; rehabilitation researcher; policy expert, payer, or educator; and independent product research and development. Read more about the WRS committee 

Position Paper on the Use of Evacuation Chairs  - the ESTD committee has published a position paper that provides evidence-based guidelines and options on the use of these emergency devices, intended for building managers, employers, emergency personnel, event venues, school districts, and other stakeholders. The paper is available as a free download on the RESNA website. 
Smithsonian ADA Celebration 2015
John Brabyn and Jim Marston, Smith Kettlewell Eye Institute, with RESNA board member Denis Anson, representing G3ict. 
Celebrating 25th Anniversary of the ADA
RESNA joined several federal government agencies and grantees on July 24th for a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on the National Mall. Organized by the Smithsonian, the weekend event featured booths from all federal agencies and government grantees who work on disability issues, prominent speakers (including retiring Senator Tom Harkin and RESNA member Rory Cooper from the University of Pittsburgh), and technology demonstrations. Several RESNA members representing government-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs) and research projects were also on hand. The RESNA Catalyst Project, funded by the Administration on Community Living, shared a booth with local AT Act progams from Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.   See pictures on Facebook
Upcoming Webinars and Courses

All webinars are $28 for RESNA members, $40 for non-members, unless otherwise indicated. RESNA is authorized by IACET to offer 0.1 CEUs per webinar.

Fall Courses

Resources and Tools for Members
RESNA offers a variety of tools and resources for members and for the community.  Here's a sampling:
  • AT Forum Listserv: This e-mail listserv is open to anyone with an interest in assistive technology. Most posts are from professionals seeking advice from other professionals on different types of technology. Sign up here
  • AT Journal On-Line: Members have full on-line access to every issue of Assistive Technology Journal. Tip: You must sign in on the AT Journal page on the RESNA website for access, nowhere else! Bookmark this page
  • Position Papers and Wheelchair Service Provision Guide: All of the RESNA position papers, including the newly updated Application of Tilt, Recline, and Elevated Legrests for Wheelchairs, are available as free downloads in the website Knowledge Center. Click here for the listing
  • CRT Catalog App: RESNA is a sponsor of the CRT Catalog, a free app for complex rehab professionals. The app includes indexed product brochures for complex rehab manufacturers and distributors, CEU opportunities, industry magazines, and more. No more carrying around bulky catalogs - keep everything on your smartphone or tablet! How to download the app
RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America, is the premier professional organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities through increasing access to technology solutions.