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We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers for AOTI conference 2023:
Joanne O’Riordan studied criminology in UCC and is only one of seven people in the world living with a rare physical disability known as Total Amelia. This means she was born without all four limbs and even though there is no medical explanation as to why this happened, Joanne or indeed her family has never allowed it to hold her back.
Joanne first gained attention for skipping school to confront then Taoiseach Enda Kenny about his proposed plan to reduce disability funding during his election. In April 2012, she spoke before the UN and challenged the body to create technology to help disabled people such as herself. She was named Young Person of the Year at the People of the Year awards in 2012. Joanne is an activist for people with disabilities, a motivational speaker and a sports columnist with The Irish Times. She appears in the 2013 documentary No Limbs No Limits.
She has used technology to enhance her abilities in both her education and through the wider social environment. She has conquered enormous challenges at home, in school and around her local community. Joanne adapted her life in such a way that it has given her both national and international acclaim. Joanne is now an example to all able bodied and disabled bodies to live very happy, independent, fulfilled lives.
Joanne has challenged the most advanced minds in the world to build her a robot that would become her hands and legs. The challenges she faces everyday get bigger and far greater to overcome. Joanne is an inspiration to others.
Samantha graduated as an occupational therapist in 1992 and has worked in clinical and education settings in low, middle and high-resourced settings, working to effect change at government, institutional and service level.
Samantha is the President of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) as well as a member of the Founding Board for the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals (ISWP). She is also a member of the Steering Committee
for the World Health Organisation’s World Rehabilitation Alliance, as co-chair for the Workforce workstream.
Presently based in the UK, Samantha practices as an occupational therapist and is a Director of The OT Service a private occupational therapy service providing rehabilitation and consultancy services.
Samantha is respected by her peers and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (UK). She has over 20 years’ experience designing and facilitating service delivery and regularly provides international expertise and mentorship on leadership, advocacy and service development. She is passionate about occupational therapy and its unique contribution to how people live their lives.
Dr Anita Atwal
Anita has followed a clinical/academic research career. She influences views and opinion through being a pragmatic provocateur using research and teaching and social media to share my expertise, motivate, and engender others. Her 86 publications can be found here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anita-Atwal
In 2021 she delivered the Casson Memorial Lecture. Anita is a committed and passionate member of the professional body to support research being a member of the editorial board, research and development board as well as promoting AHP research through National Institute for Health research podcasts and is also the elected council member for research (Royal College of Occupational Therapists).
Anita currently leads on national projects to influence fairness within the Allied Health Professions. Her current research highlights the need for Allied Health professional to be credible, relevant, and more importantly reflect local populations. The recent grants to solve wicked issues related to equality and inclusion across the 14 Allied Health professions. That is ensuring we have the right workforce to service local populations, future students have fair access to opportunities, retain the workforce, ensure that occupational therapy is culturally appropriate.