Upon arriving home from my short trip to attend the 28th annual International Assistive Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, I discovered that I was struggling with an odd mix of sensations. Fatigue, from the endless walking through an enormous hotel property, late nights, and early mornings. euphoria, from having met what seemed to be a nearly endless parade of people, all of whom, inexplicably, seemed delighted to see me. Excitement, from learning new things, finding fresh inspiration, and meeting new people. Dehydration, from my refusal to pay $3.50 for a bottle of water, at least more than once. Melancholy, from realizing it might be a long time before I can see some of my friends again. Finally, there was gratitude, for all of the people who work hard to put on a conference that proves to be a success year after year.
Thank you to the California State University, Northridge, Center on Disability (@CSUNCOD). While each conference I have attended over the years seems to have had a personality or flavor all its own, the quality of the presenters, topics offered, vendor exhibits and social event schedule has been consistently high.
Thank you to the Manchester Grand Hyatt (@manchGrandHyatt) for providing conference attendees with what surely must be some of the most well trained and customer service oriented staff anywhere. On one day, while being guided from point A to point B, a trip so long it permitted a complete conversation, I learned that the young lady guiding me was not a hotel employee at all, but a volunteer. As it turns out, she is a local resident with a full-time job elsewhere, but volunteers every year at CSUN conference time just to help us get from place to place. Extraordinary.
Thanks also to the sponsors who made some of the social events possible. The general tweetup was hosted by The Paciello Group, WebAIM, Infoaxia, PayPal, The Center on Disabilities at CSUN, EZFire, OpenDirective, and CA Technologies. Accessible media Inc. (@a11ymedia) and SSB BART Group (@SSBBARTGroup) sponsored two of the receptions I attended. I’m sure there were others not known to me. Please let these fine organizations know how much you appreciated their hospitality. Drop a comment below or send them a tweet, or write them a note if you were personally invited.
A special thank you to my roommate, Jennifer Sutton (@jsutt), who generously shared her space so as to make it possible for me to attend. She’s probably hoping for a less chatty roommate next year.
Finally, I’d like to say thank you to the members of the accessibility and disability community who attended the event. Whether you were a vendor showing off your latest and greatest product release, research, or educational support technology, a presenter, or any one of the thousands of my new best friends who flew in to Sand Diego from far-flung places around the globe, I must say it was truly a pleasure spending time with you.
See you next year!