Scientific Foresight (STOA) By / June 8, 2015

STOA Workshop ‘Robots: enabling the disabled or disabling the abled?’

Workshop hashtag: #STOAbility STOA website & registration Live-streaming Written by Lieve Van Woensel and Guillermo Garrido-Lestache On Tuesday, 23 June 2015,…

Antoniomas / Shutterstock

Workshop hashtag: #STOAbility

STOA website & registration


Written by Lieve Van Woensel and Guillermo Garrido-Lestache

On Tuesday, 23 June 2015, the STOA Panel will host a workshop entitled ‘Robots: enabling the disabled or disabling the abled?’ Taking place from 14:30 to 17:00 in room 4Q1 of the József Antall building, the workshop will be chaired by MEP Ádám Kósa. One of only two deaf MEPs, Ádám Kósa requested that STOA carry out a Scientific Foresight project on assistive technologies and their role in the creation of an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities. The STOA Panel decided to host this workshop with Mr Kósa to test the field and acquire knowledge that will be useful in defining and refining the project.

Disability - magnifier glass
Antoniomas / Shutterstock

To learn about assistive technologies, we need to find out about the current developments in the field from researchers and enterprises and their expectations for the future. Therefore, Mr Anthal Kuthy, who developed KONTAKT (an online system that connects deaf and hard of hearing users with sign language interpreters in real-time, and also provides real-time speech-to-text interpretation), will be joining us as a panel speaker. Mr Kuthy will discuss the opportunities, risks, limitations, market-barriers, funding and other issues related to the development of assistive technologies. We also look forward to hearing about recent advances in assistive technologies, such as robots, brain-computer interfaces, smart phone apps or biosensors.

Also joining us as a panel speaker will be Professor Dr Ron McCallum, an Australian expert on labour law and an inaugural member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Blind since birth, Professor McCallum will speak about his experience with assistive technologies as a user, and will also raise issues regarding the legal framework of persons with disabilities and their inclusion in education and employment. The third speaker, Dr Marjo Rauhala (from the Institute of Design & Assessment of Technology in Vienna) will be an expert on ethical issues and will explain that the concerns regarding assistive technologies are relevant for the whole of society, not just to individuals with disabilities. This speaker will also bring light into thinking about the unexpected impacts that assistive technologies often have and discuss how all sorts of societal concerns (privacy, the environment, human identity, empathy, etc.) may arise and must be discussed upon by all of the stakeholders with the politicians.

Following the speeches by the panel members there will be an hour for discussion and questions from the audience. If you are a person with some sort of disability, a researcher or entrepreneur in the field of assistive technology, an expert in bioethics, a lawyer specialised in equality and inclusion, an economist or social scientist interested in demographic and employment, or a representative of a disability-related NGO, you mustn’t miss this opportunity for dialogue and learning.

You may watch a promotional video for the workshop here.

To register for the event click here.

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