Karen’s Expo News and Highlights
The Universal Design and Assistive Technology Expo and Conference: Products and Technologies That Change People’s Lives held on September 26th was a success! Over 1,000 people attended the expo to see the products, technologies and services of over 100 exhibitors. Over 500 people attended the workshops and facilitated discussion.
Attendees included the governor, who held his September cabinet meeting in the expo hands-on demonstration area. He and his eight cabinet secretaries took the opportunity to walk around and spend time with a few of the exhibitors. Check out the governor’s photo op with the NAO robot by Aldebaran at www.changepeopleslives.org.
Personally, my favorite product was a VGO robot named “Ned.” Ned was controlled behind the scenes and I enjoyed introducing him to some parents I knew (who have children with significant medical issues). What’s great about Ned is that he allows a homebound child to participate in a classroom through the use of his monitor, camera, and speakers. Motorized on wheels, Ned allows a student at home (with a computer) to navigate around school, and even go to the lunchroom with classmates!
Another highlight was the MV-1, the first U.S. designed, factory- built, fully-accessible vehicle. Herb Chambers will be the van’s local dealer. Given that NY courts have recently deemed taxis must be accessible, the MV-1 might be the way to go in Boston!
Speaking of vans, another popular exhibition was the New England “on-sight” [get it?] vision van. Many attendees took advantage of free vision assessments on the van throughout the day. The fully accessible mobile clinic was funded by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation and the Ludke Foundation and travels the state to support older adults and young children with vision impairments.
There were many other exciting exhibitors. Too many to mention here. For me what was great about the day was the high energy and chance to see everyone. It was like “old home week;” I saw people with disabilities at the expo I hadn’t seen in years. Many people asked me, “Are we doing it again next year?” So I can only assume that I wasn’t the only one that felt it was successful.
Check out our design competition
Oh, I can’t forget to mention the design competition. It featured 15 entries of products or technology designed to “change peoples lives.” The awards happened late in the day when many had left but it still was powerful to see the ideas that were put forth and prototypes developed. Perkins generously offered the winner a $5000 prize. You can see some highlights at this conference Web page.
If you liked a particular device or would have liked to have seen one that wasn’t there please let me know. Also, we will be doing some post conference/expo follow up to the workshops, facilitated discussions and the summit. We plan to post more news on the event website, so please keep coming back to www.changepeopleslives.org.