After an open competition that attracted some very strong candidates, Council member John Lamb has been appointed the new executive director of BATA with effect from 1 July.
As an award-winning IT writer and editor of technology publications, John has an involvement with assistive technology that stretches back to the late seventies. He has been the publisher and editor of Ability magazine since 2004, where he has played a key role in promoting a greater understanding of AT.
“The technology may have changed radically in that time, but the key issues remain the same: how to ensure that disabled people can take advantage of developments in technology to improve their quality of life and how to raise people’s awareness of what is possible.”
Not surprisingly, communications is one of the top priorities for John. He has been tasked with improving BATA’s engagement with stakeholders by increasing the organisation’s visibility through social media and other channels.
“There is also important work to be done in increasing membership among new groups involved with assistive technology so that we have a sustainable organisation that delivers change over time,” he says.
John will be responsible for working with Council on championing the objectives of the organisation: campaigning for the rights and interests of people who need assistive technology (AT), providing expert advice to government departments and agencies, educating and informing widely on the benefits of AT, and promoting British AT products and expertise at home and abroad.
He will be taking over from Barbara Phillips CBE, who has been the Executive Director for the past three years. Speaking at her last Council meeting, Barbara said “BATA is still a young organisation but it is already on the radar of many involved with Government, disability and technology.
“From the firm foundation that has now been established, it has the potential to develop into a more effective player, better able to influence policy development for the good of all who use and supply assistive technology. It’s been a very interesting three years and I wish them every success in the future.”
John, who has worked closely with Barbara for the past two years, says “I aim to continue the good work done by Barbara in raising the profile of assistive technology, tackling the barriers that stand in the way of the wider use of AT and representing our members in public forums.”
“Barbara achieved a great deal on her watch: commissioning important research, engaging with outside organisations and establishing BATA as an expert voice on issues connected with AT.”
There are significant challenges facing users of AT not least a government determined to cut the assistance it gives disabled people to acquire technology, often in the mistaken belief that appropriate assistive technology is cheaply available via devices such as mobile phones and tablets.
“What we have is a perfect storm of disruption and hence there has never been a greater need for BATA,” comments BATA chair Mark McCusker. “Our spheres of influence are broadening and we are connecting with more and more like-minded organisations with the common goal of supporting the disability community.
“The challenges facing the industry continue to grow, but so do the opportunities.
BATA must continue to push forward on all fronts, and I am confident that John will play an important part in helping us achieve our full potential.”