Brand new to
I was honored and excitedokay shakento be invited to my
first California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Conference in
San Diego. It was also my first major crowd scene since my sensorineural
hearing loss about seven years ago.
With a scant two days notice, I got pulled into the deep end
of the assistive technology pool by ABILITY. Wide-eyed and a bit red-eyed
from my flight from Washington, DC, to San Diego, I walked gingerly
into the 28th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities
Conference, commonly called
CSUN. There, I found an abundance of inspiration.
Diverse groups of people with a range of abilities and disabilities
teamed with excitement. We came from around the world, using whatever
we needed, from service dogs, to assistive devices, to canes and electronics,
in order to stay at the top of our game. We shared our experiences
and visions for advancement.
Corporate accessibility leaders from such companies such as Adobe,
Comcast, Oracle and State Farm, demonstrated their latest innovations
throughout the weeklong event. We were all invited to the groundbreaking
of a new association dedicated to enhancing the accessibility profession;
it aims to provide an international structure of support, which also
includes collaboration and education. Ultimately, the aim is to increase
opportunities for people with disabilities.
From the presenters, to the participants, to the person just breezing
byeveryone had a story that was their gift to share.
Lily Bandak, a captivating woman who presented her vibrant view of
the Arab world through photography, left a lasting impression. She
captured the cultural essence, architecture and landscape from Bahrain
to Egypt. She snaps her pictures as she rolls along in her wheelchair,
doing what she loves and besting the effects of multiple sclerosis
Attendee Ray Grott, director of Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive
Technology Project at San Francisco State University, has been attending
CSUN for more than 20 years. His passions include developing assistive
technologies to help people with disabilities adapt to work and life
environments. He spoke movingly of his clients, including some with
Usher syndrome, a disorder that affects both hearing and vision.
Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, IBM and Bank of America, to name a few,
told similar corporate narratives about their commitment to employing
people with disabilities.
Microsoft, for example, actively searches for talent for entry-level
Internet technology (IT) positions as well as to test new technologies,
says Cynthia Shelly, senior technology strategist. Kurt Mattes, a
vice president at JP Morgan Chase, and Phill Jenkins, a representative
on IBMs US Access Board, were clearly driven to encourage people
with disabilities to enter and grow in the field of IT.
Mattes pointed out that one of his top Web programmers who can
build a mobile app from the programming language code up is
blind. So is IBMs Matt King, an IT engineer who beamed about
his passion as a champion tandem cyclist, and how some people get
nervous when he gets close to the edge of the track.
ABILITY Awareness brought international flavor to CSUN by displaying
samplings of its future art exhibit,
From China, With Love. The delicate poetry, painting
and photography illustrate the immense talents of Chinese artists
with various disabilities. The main 85-piece exhibition and auction
will take place, for the first time in the US, later this year. This
historic creative exchange will extend into 2014 when an exhibition
featuring US artists with disabilities presents in China.
On a personal note, Mitchell Levys presentation for
Hamilton CapTel (Captioned Telephone) was most memorable and useful
to me. I was so enthralled to learn about this cell-phone captioning
technology that I didnt notice Levy had a sign-language interpreter
assisting him until the Q&A session. CapTel technology was developed
by Raketu Communications
to create an easier phone experience by captioning complete phone
conversations, both incoming and outgoing voices, on CapTel-equipped
phones, computers and many smartphones. Devices and free services
are also available through Sprint
Im eager to use these services as I take ABILITY
Jobs to the next level, connecting abundant talent with fantastic
After CSUN, I couldnt be more excited to help job seekers with
disabilities move to their highest professional opportunities, while
supporting companies as they meet their goals to employ the wealth
of qualified individuals within this arena.
by Marge Plasmier
a Free Digi Issue and read the full magazine, and see all of the photos,
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from the Amy
Charles Limb, MD Jazzology & Your Brain
CSUN This is Your Future
Amy Brenneman Chiming In
HE Fahed Bin Al Shaikh Autism
in the UAE
Allergies on Ice
in the Amy Brenneman Issue; Geri Jewell Spring Into Action;
Ashley Fiolek Making the Move; Humor A Tail of Two Kitties:
CSUN This is Your Future: Long Haul Paul Riding the
MS Trail: Tony Spineto You Say Club Foot, I Say Marathon: DRLC
Federal Wellness Programs: Kendall Hollinger Allergies
on Ice: Charles Limb, MD Jazzology & Your Brain: China
A Familys Story of Strength: Scotty Enyart PhD
the Hard Way: Amy Brenneman Chiming In: HE Fahed Bin Al Shaikh
Autism in the UAE: Caroline McGraw Finding the Gifts
in Everyonet; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences...