advancing Social inclusion through Technology and EmPowerment (a-STEP)
COST Action CA19104

Social inclusion is an important element of well-being for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or Intellectual Disability (ID). Research has highlighted that social inclusion is facilitated through access to education and employment. Despite this, people with ASD and/or ID have low rates of participation in these domains. Research has demonstrated that Assistive Technology (AT) shows great promise in increasing participation in education and employment. Notwithstanding recent technological advances, there are low rates of adoption of AT throughout Europe by service providers, educators, employers and policymakers. There are several areas of unmet need including: high abandonment rates of AT, lack of inclusion of people with ASD and/or ID in the research process, lack of interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration and poor match between technology and the individual with ASD and/or ID.

The aim of the COST action is:

Build an interdisciplinary, intersectoral pan EU and beyond, network which will enhance social inclusion and empowerment of individuals with ASD and/or ID.

This will be achieved by:

Evaluating the development of novel AT by providing an interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration between all stakeholders using a translational approach to establish standardised practice guidelines for design, development and deployment of AT.

Creating knowledge, by providing a database of current AT technologies and their match to employment and educational contexts for users with ASD and/or ID.

Promoting the adoption of evidence-based guidelines in relation to use of AT across settings and populations and propagating the use of inclusive design and rigorous research approaches.