Thousands to Attend World’s Largest Tech Conference for Persons with Disabilities

Attendees at the 2011 conference.

Attendees at the 2011 conference. Photo courtesy of the Center on Disabilities.

Thousands of people from around the world are expected to gather in San Diego later this month for California State University, Northridge’s 28th annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference.

The conference, which takes place from Feb. 25 to March 2 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, is the world’s largest and only university-sponsored technology event dedicated to exploring new ways technology can help persons with disabilities.

“Our conference is very unique to the industry and brings together thousands from around the world—including scientists, practitioners, government officials, visionary tech execs and entrepreneurs—all committed to driving innovation in assistive technology to promote inclusiveness for people with disabilities, our largest group of attendees and the reason we all gather to push the research and industry forward each year,” said Sandy Plotin, managing director of CSUN’s Center on Disabilities, which organizes the event each year.

The conference explores all aspects of technology and disabilities, and 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 conference will premier an online journal that will highlight the topics discussed in the event’s science and research track. Topics include “Robotics for Youth with Visual Impairments,” “Accessible Cyberlearning in Practice,” “Development of AAC App for Autistic Children” and “3D Simulation of an Accessible Biomedical Lab.”

“We are excited about the conference’s new venture into e-journal publishing,” Plotin said. “This brings our event into the forefront of professional associations and meetings, and raises the credibility and cache of the conference higher than ever before. We’re quite proud of the number of outstanding papers we received for this planned post-conference publication.”

The conference’s keynote address this year will be given by Deana McDonagh, a faculty member of both the School of Art + Design at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology. She is an emphatic design research strategist. Her speech will focus on how to enhance the quality of life through intuitive and meaningful products.

Plotin said one of the more exciting aspects of the annual conference is the opportunity it presents persons with disabilities to have direct input on the creation of or modifications to assistive technology that is designed to make their lives easier, whether it’s wheelchair design, interactive software or apps.

For more information about the conference, or how to register to attend, visit CSUN’s Center on Disabilities website at or call the center at (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 CSUN’s Center on Disabilities to directly assist students in realizing their academic and career goals. To that end, the technology and persons with disabilities conference was launched.

Over the years, the conference has grown to about 5,000 participants, with presenters and exhibitors sharing technology devices, services and programs. Participants have come from all 50 states, numerous territories and more than 35 foreign countries. It has an international reputation for expanding the knowledge base of professionals and introducing newcomers to the field.

California State University, Northridge has more than 32,000 full- and part-time students and offers 66 bachelors, 53 master’s and two doctoral degrees as well as 28 teaching credentials programs. Founded in 1958, CSUN is among the largest single-campus universities in the nation and the only four-year public university in the San Fernando Valley. The university is home to dozens of nationally recognized programs where students get valuable hands-on experience working alongside faculty and industry professionals, whether in the sciences, health care and engineering or education, political science, the arts and the social sciences. While regionally focused, the university’s faculty and administrators recognize the important role its students and alumni play in shaping the future of the state and the nation.

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