Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - ASSISTID (Assistive Technologies in Autism and Intellectual Disability)

Assistive Technologies in Autism and Intellectual Disability (ASSISTID) is a Training & Mobility Program, co-funded by the European Commission and the Irish Charity RESPECT (www.respect.ie) under the 7th Framework Programme. The project is running for 60 months from 1 May 2014 to 30 April 2019 with a 3 month no-cost extension to 31st July 2019 approved by REA in amended Annex 1. The ASSISTID program is providing Incoming Fellowships of 24 months for 16 Fellows and Outgoing Fellowships with Return phase (24+12 months) for 9 Fellows.

ASSISTID is unique as it is currently the only COFUND project with a charity as the sole beneficiary. The ASSISTID programme is managed by the DOCTRID Research Institute (www.doctrid.ie) an interdisciplinary, inter-sectoral consortium of universities and disability service provider’s dedicated to conducting evidence-based research to inform policy and practice to improve the quality of life for individuals living with intellectual disability (ID) and/or autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The ASSISTID program aims to become a model for EU Experienced Researcher training in assistive technologies for ASD and ID, and to fill the void in advanced training that currently exists in this area. ASSISTID is now training 26 Experienced Researchers to conduct rigorous research that can be applied in today's complex highly-regulated environment of disability service provision. Fellows are being trained to become leaders in disability services, research and delivery with particular skills in assistive technology.

ASSISTID had 6 Calls for Fellowship applications, the final two completed in this reporting period. The first 4 Calls resulted in 60 eligible applications of which 45 passed remote-review and were invited to interview. The penultimate call resulted in 9 applications all of which were eligible for remote-review, all 9 were subsequently invited for interview and 2 were offered Fellowships. The final call received 32 applications, 25 of which passed the eligibility criteria and were sent for remote-review, 17 were invited for interview based on peer-review scores. Subsequently 6 Fellowships were offered (2 as a result of appeal from previous call) and 1 offer was declined by a selected Fellow in this Call.
A total of 33 Fellowships were offered with 26 applicants accepting the Fellowship offer (9 Outgoing and 17 Incoming).

The Programme and Calls were widely published through social media (including the EURAXESS website) and various professional and academic mailing lists. The project website (www.assistid.eu) and a dedicated logo were developed in addition to a flyer for each call. Through these activities, ASSISTID, as one of the first formal postdoctoral training programs in the area of assistive technology for autism and intellectual disability, is now recognized as a high quality training platform for assistive technologies in ASD and ID. In keeping with MSCA rules, applicants were free to choose their host institution and research topic. The ASSISTID host organisations are members of the DOCTRID Research Institute (RI). There are currently 21 host organisations across Ireland, the UK and the USA including universities, disability service providers and industry (Intel, IBM).

The potential of technology as a tool to support independent living and enable choice is a central theme of all projects. The ASSISTID projects funded cover a range of topics including Virtual Reality for education, employment and social skills, inclusive video games for Children with ID, the Ethics of Assistive Technology, and using personalised Apps to promote healthy lifestyle choices in people with ID. The appointment by the Daughters of Charity (DoC) of a Disability Service Liaison Officer to DOCTRID has allowed the Fellows to engage with the service providing care to people with ASD and ID in a meaningful and worthwhile way, ensuring minimal disruption to the service users and their families and Daughters of Charity Disability Services Staff. This has helped to ensure societal relevance of the research and maximise the career development and future employability of the Fellows.

A key objective of the ASSISTID program is to strengthen and widen the career prospects of Experienced Researchers. All Fellows have set up a Personal Career Development Plan (PCDP), which is updated and reviewed on a 6 monthly basis, and all Fellows receive supervision from qualified PIs at their host organisation(s). Along with their PCDP, Fellows submit a 12-month Scientific Progress Report and Supervisors Progress Report (outgoing Fellows also submit 24-month reports) and Final Reports. These reports are submitted to the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) of ASSISTID along with original proposal and remote-review feedback to assess progress to date and provide input and direction for 2nd and 3rd years of Research.

Dissemination of Research findings has been quite prolific both through Publications and presentations at Conferences around the world. A Publications page has been set-up on the ASSISTID website and all conference participation is highlighted on the ASSISTID and DOCTRID News pages. ASSISTID Fellows have been invited to present at Conferences such as International Society for Autism Research in Rotterdam, National Council on Rehabilitation Education in California, World Sleep Conference in Prague, at WHO, and ASSISTID hosted a Special Thematic Session on AT at the AAATE conference in Sheffield in September 2017.

For more information, please contact the Programmes Manager at gfitzgerald@respect.ie or visit the website at www.assistid.eu.

Reported by

RESPECT Limited
Ireland

Subjects

Life Sciences
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