Conference review: What fried your circuits?

Since I could not attend the CSUN AT conference on disability this year, I want to know what I missed. Tell me about what you think might be the next big thing in assistive tech. What was your favorite new product release? Most improved? Best party? Presentation? Let us who did not attend live vicariously through you. Spill!

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We're moving! Sort of…

Building the Accessible Insights blog wasn’t exactly the most well thought-through undertaking of my business life. Seems that while I was struggling to dream up captivating posts week after week, I neglected to dream up the accompanying categories that should be attached to them. thirty posts later, I realized that a little organization probably would have improved the overall readability of my blog. Gee, you think?

(Insert Homer Simpson sound here)

Unfortunately, what I also overlooked was that by not self-hosting my blog, I would be unable to add those really cool plug-ins that everyone is using, also enhancing the blog’s readability. Well, if there was ever an opportunity to remedy that, the time is now.

The entire Insights Empire is being relocated to a new web host. The previous web hosting company suffered from an abundant lack of service, support, accessibility, features or benefits. They did manage, however, to excel at infuriating me with their utter disinterest in my customer satisfaction.

I’m one of those people who tends to vote with my wallet, so it didn’t take too long for me to come to terms with the hassle factor, grit my teeth and decide to move all five web sites, my parked domains, and whatever else was in the junk drawer to another web host. Enter Host Gator. they are the new, only somewhat more interested landlords of the Insights Empire. Actually, to be honest, their service and support have been stellar. they have gone out of their way to make my experience as painless as it could possibly be.

(I would proudly display my affiliate link here, but I can’t find it right now.)

So, while the DNS is propagating throughout the globe (there’s just no end to the jokes that could be made here), I will become a blog grown-up and install the Accessible Insights blog onto the Accessible Insights web site.

While my email bounces like a superball across the digital cosmos and links get disrupted like the Earth’s crust in a subduction zone (sorry, the quakes are on my mind), and my search engine rankings go from 2,837,354 page rank to hovering just above 17 billion, I’m hoping the new and improved Accessible Insights blog will merit a grand reopening. thank you for your patience, and your patronage.



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Join my list of accessible tweeps!

I’m in the process of putting together a list of accessibility and disability related Twitter users, with a 140 character pitch about who you are and what you do. Wish I could claim it to be an original idea, but imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, and all…

It’s just a list for the benefit of my readers…both of them…and it would be great if you were on it. So, either DM me or tweet at me @Accessible_Info, and help me build the list. You can also include the link to your web site, if you like. Thanks for being part of the community.


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CSUN International Conference on Technology and Disability

If you are a self-described geek, tech-head, audiophile, gadget hound or a hopelessly addicted slave of all things electronic, you probably already know about or have attended two of the largest technology exhibitions held each year. Focusing on computer hardware, software and related, there’s COMDEX, the computer dealer exposition. For more general interest, in-home, music, mobile or gaming technologies, you can attend CES, or the consumer electronics show. Both are held in Las Vegas, Nevada, and both draw enormous crowds.

The equivalent of these events that showcases assistive technology devices for people with disabilities is called the CSUN International Conference on Assistive Technology and Disability. There are several AT conferences throughout the year, but the largest is held in March, and is sponsored by California State University, Northridge (CSUN). As long as I’ve been attending, it has been held in Los Angeles, spread throughout a handful of hotels near the Los Angeles International airport.

This year, there has been a change of venue. In celebration of the 25th anniversary, the CSUN 2010 conference is being held at the San Diego Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel. From March 22 through 27, you can attend demonstrations, presentations and workshop sessions, as well as wander through the vast exhibit hall.

If you want to go social, you can become a fan of the CSUN Center on Disability Facebook page, and even RSVP on the event page. You can also follow the CSUN Center on Disability on Twitter @CSUNCOD. When tweeting about the event, use the hash tag #csun10 to ensure everyone sees your tweets.

For all the details, including travel and lodging information, list of speakers, vendors and registration instructions, go here (I’ve shortened the URL):

Hope to see you there.

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For what is in a name, that which we call a cane?

It was 1991 when I first began using a white cane. Since my vision loss has been a slow progression over time, I did not experience the anger issues and resentment that can sometimes accompany a sudden loss of independence due to blindness. While I won’t go so far as to say I was so excited that I just couldn’t wait to get a white cane, I found myself trying to come to terms with my circumstances so that I could be at peace and be as independent as possible.

Almost immediately, I became rather attached to the cane. I realized that the cane was an important part of my well-being, and that learning to use it properly would enhance the quality of my life. I thought of the cane as an extension of myself, and as such deserved it’s own identity.

Truthfully, I’ve always been the kind of person who gave inanimate objects names. I’m guessing there’s a luxury vehicle to be had for the psychotherapist who analyzes this little fetish, but it’s true. I have always given names to things, I personalize them, I believe that there are some objects that have energy. So like, wow man, that’s so Zen. Let’s chill.

No, I don’t wear love beads or hang crystals over doorways. Maybe it’s one of those whatever-gets-you-through-the-day types of things. Still, it was natural for me to name my new companion, and the name I chose was Candy. Candy The Cane.

Well, isn’t that adorable? maybe not, but it sure gave me comfort, when just a couple of years later, I happened to be watching a news magazine program on television, and the program featured a school for children with disabilities. Most of the children were grade school age, and they carried the tiniest little white canes. Now, THEY were truly adorable. it was when one of the little ones was interviewed that I was delighted to learn that the children had all named their white canes. Well, I thought, I’m not so bizarre after all. Childlike, maybe, but not crazy.

Over the years, I’ve made it a point to ask other people who are blind if they have a name for their white cane. many do. I find this so uplifting and encouraging. I really don’t know why, but it pleases me to think about other people who are blind who also have a questionable attachment to their mobility cane. I’ve put together a short list culled from some of my twitter followers, simply because it’s easy to poll that group. Here are just a few:

Seymour (Get it? See More? I know, I know…)
The White Shaft (That cracks me up)
Mr. Yuk (this person prefers her dog)
Harry (Can’t help you on that one)
Sticky (no comment)
Abel (Cain’s brother)
Little John McCane )
Whisker (As in the way a cat’s whiskers help feel the way)
Moses (I’ve parted many a human sea with my own cane, so that one makes sense)
Gary and Russell (absolutely no significance whatsoever)

I’m sometimes asked why I use a cane instead of a guide dog. Truthfully, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. While my white cane may not be as cute as a dog (although that’s a matter of opinion), Candy gets me around just fine. I will admit this, however: Candy isn’t the best cuddle partner, and she doesn’t have that cool puppy breath. On the other hand, I don’t have to clean up after Candy The Cane.


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