Don’t Forget The Blind at The 25th Annual International Conference On Technology & Persons With Disabilities (#CSUN10)

by Jeffrey Stark

February 17th, 2010

 

Every year, the California state university’s annual conference on technology & persons with disabilities brings thousands of people together who have an interest in disability. This conference is widely viewed as the premier event in North America in this field. Some are coming for a professional reason, some for a personal one, some to open their eyes to the wealth of technology, accommodations, and experience to share, draw on, learn from and share with; in this cornucopia of subtopics. Accessibility is on the forefront of everyone’s mind and the sheer number of persons with disabilities who attend is staggering. I’ve never seen so many wheelchairs, canes, guide dogs and sign language interpreters in one place at the same time in my life.

I personally have attended the conference a number of times over the years and my one observation is that the attention to planning an inclusive conference & will to provide an inclusive conference is there. However, most of what is done to ensure this hasn’t changed overly much in the last 5+ years. Even though the technology and offerings have. No area is this more evident than in the accessibility of aspects of the conference for attendees who are blind.

 

Way finding

After 10+years of holding the conference at the Marriott in Los Angeles, this year the conference is moving to a new location (San Diego). This is a prime example of an opportunity to showcase technology’s real world application. A new, unfamiliar area reduces the confidence & independent travel options for someone who is blind. Yes, there are people at the conference who will “help” attendees get around; however, the more information and independent resources available will give attendees a far more positive experience at the conference and provide a far greater level of confidence to attendees. One low cost, simple and extremely valuable such option is the ClickAndGo way finding technology [http://www.clickandgomaps.com/ ] as) it offers both indoor and outdoor guidance, and can be accessed freely by anyone with a note taker, laptop, pda, daisy reader or cellphone. This product was used to provide accessible wayfinding at both the last two ATIA conferences and received from attendees who used it an extremely positive feedback. An attendee simply selects a start point and end point and gets walking instructions on how to navigate the area.

 

Sessions

The conference offers attendees 100s of options for sessions to attend both before (in preconference format) and during the conference. Most of these sessions use a PowerPoint that is projected to the front of the screen. A non-sighted attendee is completely excluded from this information. I can’t count the number of sessions I have attended that focus on the information up on the front screen.

With the widespread number of accessible conference systems out there it would not be very hard to offer this during each session. Serotek, Ideal, talking communities all offer something relevant. There is even a session at the conference this year that compares these offerings, which I bet will have a PowerPoint and be projected up at the front of the room.

The new Accessible Event Hotspot http://serotek.com/new-ae-hotspot-appliance would make this even easier. Each room could have their own inclusive system for attendees with print related disabilities, using this system. Serotek even rents the units.

What you can do

 

It’s not too late to see these kinds of things this year at the conference….

  1. Spread the word, let your voice be heard, let people know this is important
  2. Contact Sandy Plotin who is in charge of the conference at sandy.plotin@csun.edu
  3. Contact Center on Disabilities Conference, conference@csun.edu, Phone: (818) 677-2578

 

 

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