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RESNA - Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America

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What is the society’s main goal?

Our mission is to maximize the health and well being of people with disabilities through technology. Our strengths include an excellent reputation as experts on AT and RE, a passionate and committed volunteer leadership, and a diverse membership that represents the breadth of the field.

Is there a personal story behind the establishment of the society?

RESNA was started in August 1979 at a meeting of the Inter-Agency Conference on Rehabilitation Engineering when participants Douglas Hobson, Colin McLaurin, James Reswick, Anthony Staros, and Joseph Traub offered a resolution to form the "Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America." Over 200 people at the meeting requested membership in the new organization. Jim Reswick was elected as first president and Jan Little as secretary. "Seed money" of $1,000 was provided through a gift from Robert Graebe of Roho R&D Inc., and was used to purchase stationary, file incorporation papers, and mail membership materials. The first RESNA "office" was a combination of Jim Reswick's office at Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center and Jan Little's spare bedroom! In 1980 RESNA became incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation (501(c)(3) under the laws of the State of Illinois. The first official membership and board meetings were held in Toronto in June of 1980 in conjunction with an international conference on rehabilitation engineering being held there. RESNA's first independent conference was held in August 1981 in Washington DC with support of a $36,000 grant from the Veteran's Administration.

Why did your society decided to take part in the RehabWeek?

RESNA was approached to see if we would like to a part of RehabWeek 2019 in Toronto. The organization has several Canadian founders and current board members who thought this would be an excellent opportunity to be a part of this unique event.

Why is RehabWeek unique and why should people attend?

RESNA is the premier professional organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities through increasing access to technology solutions. RESNA advances the field by offering certification, continuing education, and professional development; developing assistive technology standards; promoting research and public policy; and sponsoring forums for the exchange of information and ideas to meet the needs of our multidisciplinary constituency.

What do you think will be the next big topic in the field? Why?

How will we continue to improve the quality of services and products for people with disabilities? We can do this by 1) Promoting the use of evidence-based practice and outcomes methodologies and 2) Empowering young technology developers to find better and cheaper solutions for people with disabilities.


How will we strengthen relations with public entities to increase influence on public policy issues? Legislative and regulatory processes impact access to technology, service delivery, and research and development. Forming coalitions to increase knowledge, awareness, and engagement can positively impact technology access, service delivery, funding, and policy matters.