More than 5,000 people gathered in San Diego for the largest assistive technology conference in the world, the CSUN Conference, Feb. 27-March 4. The 32nd annual event hosted people from around the globe and explored new technology designed to assist people with disabilities.
“This is a great conference,” said Karen Royston, an executive director of a nonprofit that works with students with disabilities in the state of Georgia. “I really like how it has so many concurrent sessions and so many topics you can choose from. There is something for anyone about any disability.”
This year’s conference boasted more than 400 sessions and additional demonstrations from more than 120 exhibitors in the free Exhibition Hall.
“The CSUN Conference is the conduit for the agents for change,” said Sandy Plotin, managing director of CSUN’s Center on Disabilities. “We are happy to provide them a place to gather together.”
CSUN’s Center on Disabilities organizes the conference each year and is already at work preparing for next year’s conference, which will take place in San Diego March 19-23, 2018.
“CSUN [Conference] is a really unique event in which we can meet not only people from academia, but also people from industry,” said Takshi Kurata, who works for the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, and traveled to San Diego specifically to attend the world-renowned conference.
Kurata’s colleague presented at this year’s conference, but that was not the only reason he attended, he said.
“Every year, I get new information on a new gadget at this exhibition,” he said. “Actually, I have already found several interesting things [this year].”
Royston, whose organization works with students, noted that the earlier children begin working with assistive technology, the better.
“If students with disabilities get involved with assistive technology earlier in their learning career, they do much better — they are much more successful.”
CSUN has a long history of assisting people with disabilities, dating back to 1961 — long before federal mandates created by 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 directly assist students in reaching their academic and career goals. Shortly after, the technology and persons with disabilities conference — now known as the CSUN Conference — was launched.
For more information on the Center on Disabilities, visit www.csun.edu/cod.