Thousands of people from around the globe are expected to gather in San Diego next month for the world’s largest event dedicated to exploring new ways technology can help persons with disabilities.
California State University, Northridge’s 29th annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference is scheduled to take place from March 17 to 22 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.
People with disabilities make up the largest group of attendees and “are the reason we all gather to push the research and challenge industry professionals to keep moving technology forward and tackle new challenges,” said Sandy Plotin, managing director of CSUN’s Center on Disabilities, which organizes the conference.
The “CSUN Conference,” as it is known in the industry, is the only one of its kind sponsored by a university. It provides an unique opportunity for persons with disabilities to have direct input in the creation of or modifications to assistive technology — from wheelchairs and interactive software to apps.
“Our conference brings together thousands of people from around the world — including scientists, practitioners, educators, government officials, tech executives and entrepreneurs — all committed to driving innovation in assistive technology to promote inclusiveness for people with disabilities,” Plotin said.
The conference explores all aspects of technology and disabilities. It features a faculty of internationally recognized speakers, more than 350 general session workshops and more than 130 exhibitors displaying the latest technologies for persons with disabilities. This year’s speakers include Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor.
The keynote address will be given by Tommy Edison, who has gained national acclaim for his blog, “Blind Film Critic.” Edison, blind since birth, also produces online videos that offer glimpses into his life and the often humorous challenges he faces every day. He also has been a radio personality for nearly 25 years, spending the past 19 as the traffic reporter for a Connecticut station.
Conference organizers are working once again with WebAble TV, an Internet TV channel for people with disabilities on the TV Worldwide Network, to serve as the conference’s official webcaster.
“In past years, we have been able to provide some coverage of the conference to non-attending participants through WebAble TV’s live interviews with sponsors, exhibitors, VIPs and through a recording of the keynote address,” Plotin said. “This year, we’re excited that we’ll be selecting five sessions each from our science and research track and the web accessibility track, for a small fee to download post conference. We’re hoping that this helps expand the conference experience for people who are unable to attend.”
For more information about the conference or how to register, visit CSUN’s Center on Disabilities website, http://www.csun.edu/cod/conference/index.php, or call (818) 677-2578 V/TTY.
California State University, Northridge has a long history of involvement in many aspects of assisting persons with disabilities dating back to 1961, when the university was known as San Fernando Valley State College. This precedes Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In 1983, university officials created the Center on Disabilities to assist students in realizing their academic and career goals. To that end, the technology and persons with disabilities conference was launched.
The conference has grown to about 5,000 participants, with presenters and exhibitors sharing technology devices, services and programs. Participants travel from all 50 states, numerous territories and more than 35 countries. It has an international reputation for expanding the knowledge base of professionals and introducing newcomers to the field.
California State University, Northridge is a regionally focused, nationally recognized university serving nearly 39,000 full- and part-time students in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas. Founded in 1958, Cal State Northridge is among the largest universities in the nation and is ranked among the top universities for bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority students.
It has nine colleges and more than 2,000 faculty members who teach courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in 69 disciplines, master’s degrees in 58 fields and doctorates in education and physical therapy, as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Continuously evolving and changing to meet the needs of California and the nation at large, the university is home to dozens of acclaimed programs where students gain hands-on experience working alongside faculty and industry professionals, whether in the sciences, health care and engineering or education, the arts and social sciences.