Auburn University to host first assistive technology conference

AUBURN – Auburn University will provide a forum for innovators and consumers of assistive technology when it hosts the first Alabama Assistive Technology Expo and Conference, or ALATEC, Oct. 7-8 at the Auburn University Student Center.

Sponsored by Auburn’s Office of Professional and Continuing Education, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Auburn University Center for Disability Research and Service, the event will showcase products, practices and services available to individuals with disabilities.

Assistive technology includes mobility devices, such as wheelchairs and walkers, as well as hardware such as video phones for the hearing impaired and text readers for individuals with limited vision. Such tools can prove invaluable for individuals with disabilities in maximizing employment, education and recreation opportunities.

The conference will feature vendor displays, presentations, discussion sessions and speakers who are experts in the use of various technologies. The keynote speaker will be Robert Rummel-Hudson, whose book, “Schuyler’s Monster: A Father’s Journey with His Wordless Daughter,” tells his story of raising a child with a disability and striving to meet her needs.

Scott Renner, assistive technology coordinator for Auburn’s newly opened Center for Disability Research and Service, credits assistive technology for helping him enjoy some of the same activities he engaged in before a diving accident 18 years ago that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Assistive technology enables him to turn on lights, open doors and answer his phone, but it also affords him the freedom to engage in more adventurous pursuits like water skiing.

“My rehab was looking at the utilization of assistive technology,” Renner said. “I think it represents quality of life. It’s independence, and people want to have a high level of independence, choice and control.”

Renner said the ALATEC Conference, held with support from the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and Counseling/School Psychology within Auburn’s College of Education, provides an opportunity to educate the public about the university’s research work as well as emerging technology.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to showcase what we’re doing regarding assistive technology at the center,” Renner said. “We have an opportunity to educate people about assistive technology and how it is the great equalizer for people with disabilities. People will also have an opportunity to see assistive technology in use and will be able to find the right resources.”

Registration for the conference is $100 on or before Sept. 30 and $125 after that date. For more information and to register, go to http://www.auburn.edu/outreach/alatec.

(Contributed by Troy Johnson.)

Contact: Carol Nelson, (334) 844-9999 (nelsoc4@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)