Niels-Erik Mathiassen (1954-2017)
President of AAATE from 2012 to 2013
Niels-Erik Mathiassen was born on October 28, 1954 in Esbjerg (Denmark).
In 1977 he married Else-Marie, and moved to Hinnerup (north of the city of Aarhus). Their family was blessed by three children.
He attended humanistic studies and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Aarhus, in 1984. He started his professional career at the Danish School of Education and in 1987 he became ICT consultant at DATCH (Danish Technology Center for Disabled). He worked there until 1992, when DATCH was merged with HMI (the Danish Center for Assistive Technology). At HMI he went on working as ICT consultant (1992-1996) and then became Head of Department (1996-2003), Acting Director (2004) and finally Chef Executive Officer (2005-2012). Shortly after the HMI's closure - due to a reorganization program of the Danish Ministry of Social Affairs - he was employed as Head of Division by Statped (the Norwegian State Special Education Services). He unexpectedly passed away on Wednesday October 18th 2017 in his apartment in Oslo, where he stayed during the business week.
Niels-Erik was a leading person - a champion in the assistive technology and special education field. He deserves exceptional gratitude for all what he did in the field at both national and international level. We especially remember him as Board Member and President (2012-2013) of AAATE - the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe - and co-founder and vice-president (2006-2012) of EASTIN - the European Assistive Technology Information Network.
All those who had the privilege of working with him experienced his wisdom, his candor, his positive and constructive attitude and his ability as team leader. Messages posted on social networks by a lot of colleagues and friends after learning of Niels-Erik’s untimely passing away, add many other words to depict his personality: committed, open, welcoming, wise, optimistic, knowledgeable, present, inspiring, enthusiastic, generous, attentive listener, thoughtful of others, making people feel comfortable and happy, able to be your friend along with being your boss, great sense of humour.
We feel that all these words describe who Niels-Erik was; you could even put “very” in front of each word, because he was really an exceptional good listener, he really gave space to other people and he has really made a difference for many people who had the opportunity to be in touch with him both indirectly (through scientific academic work) and directly (daily side-by-side work).
We'll miss you, dear Niels-Erik!
Thomas Lyhne and Renzo Andrich