Thousands of people from around the world are expected to gather in San Diego this weekend to attend California State University, Northridge’s 27th annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference.
Actor, comedienne, trainer and advocate Geri Jewell will give the keynote address at what is the world’s largest and only university-sponsored event dedicated to exploring new ways technology can help persons with disabilities. The conference is scheduled to take place from Feb. 27 to March 3 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.
“Our conference is very unique to the industry and brings together thousands from around the world—from scientists and influencers to 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 Cal State Northridge’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 300 general session workshops and more than 130 exhibitors displaying the latest technologies for persons with disabilities.
Actor, comedienne and advocate for persons with disabilities Geri Jewell will give the keynote address to the conference on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 5:30 p.m. Jewell, who brought national attention to cerebral palsy and ability awareness in her role as “cousin Geri” in the 1980s hit television series “The Facts of Life,” uses humor to facilitate attitude changes. Jewell remains a leading force in disabilities advocacy and continues her acting career with roles in such shows at the award-winning HBO series “Deadwood” and the new FOX series “Alcatraz.”
“We are thrilled to have Geri Jewell as our keynote this year,” Plotin said. “By sharing her disability as her greatest blessing, she transforms the focus of her motivational appearances and training sessions from disabilities to a true celebration of ability. She’ll undoubtedly inspire and empower conference attendees.”
Plotin said one of the more exciting aspects of the 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.
“It also offers our students at CSUN and at other universities an opportunity to demonstrate their ideas for new and innovative technology and get direct feedback from those they want to use it, as well as professionals in the field,” she said.
For more information about the conference or how to register to attend, visit CSUN’s Center on Disabilities website at http://www.csun.edu/cod/index.php or call the center at (818) 677-2578 V/TTY.
California State University, Northridge has a long history of involvement in many aspects of disability 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 34,000 full- and part-time students and offers 66 bachelor’s and 53 master’s degrees as well as 28 teaching credential 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 gain 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.