RESNA Blog

Meet Emma Smith, Co-Editor of the RESNA Assistive Technology Journal

Date: Monday, February 22, 2021
Category: Member News

Emma Smith is an occupational therapist, educator, and research fellow at Maynooth University in Ireland. RESNA spoke to her about her work as the editor-in-chief of Assistive Technology and the publication’s plans going forward.

How did your background inspire you to edit the AT Journal?

As a clinician, I struggled to ensure that I was up to date on relevant literature in my job – in particular as there was so little literature available in the assistive technology field. When I started my PhD, I learned a lot about the academic publishing process and really had a chance to consider the role literature plays not only in advancing practice for clinicians, but also in justifying policy and future work. I was also struck by how little the relevant literature was used for these purposes.

When the opportunity came up to volunteer as an associate editor, and then to take on the role of editor, I saw it as an opportunity to contribute to engage with research across the entire spectrum of our field, and to hopefully impact research, practice, education, and policy for the better.

How can AT professionals of all different backgrounds benefit from reading Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology is still a relatively young field of practice, and we often struggle to have good evidence to support the work we do. As practitioners, we know anecdotally that what we do works – assistive technology has impact and improves our clients’ lives. Unfortunately, we aren't always as good at using research to support and justify our work. The Assistive Technology journal is a great resource for all of us – practitioners, researchers, educators, and policy makers – to learn more about what is current in AT research and understand new best practices, effectiveness of interventions, and exciting new technologies! And for members, we get unlimited on-line access to the Journal and the Journal archives for free.

What are your plans for the Assistive Technology going forward?

The Assistive Technology is our flagship academic publication and I am excited to bring a few new initiatives forward to continue to grow the journal and increase its impact beyond the excellent work that Rich Simpson has done in the last few years. In particular, we are introducing a RESNA AT Journal Club, reinvigorating the Editorial Board, including the recent recruitment of new Associate Editors, and looking for ways to streamline the submission and review processes. We are also looking to develop opportunities for special issues, and promoting this opportunity among large grant holders or applicants at a global level. 

Tell us more about the new AT Journal Study Club.

We are very excited to host our first Assistive Technology Journal Club! Save the date for March 24 at 12pm ET. The Journal Club is a new member benefit. It will be free for members, and will offer 1.0 contact hours for continuing education. This is an opportunity for RESNA members to read an article from the journal relevant to AT practice, and join in a conversation with other members and an author of the article. We are hoping this is a great opportunity for members to engage with research on a different level, and have meaningful conversations about integrating current research into their practice. Look for the announcement and registration opening soon.

In addition to the AT Journal, you are chairing the Developers’ Showcase for RESNA 2021. What are your plans for that?

The Developers' Showcase is a highlight of the conference for many of our attendees. When we moved to an online format last year, we took a one-year hiatus on the event to spend some time thinking carefully about how this well-loved RESNA event could be run effectively in an online format. We   are very pleased to note that it will be back again this year for the virtual conference! Given the online format, we are excited to be able to expand the Developer’s Showcase to welcome developers on a global level. More details will be coming soon.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Volunteering with RESNA is a great opportunity to engage with colleagues and peers, develop leadership skills, and advance the field.  I am always happy to chat with anyone who might be considering a volunteer role with RESNA.


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