I had a fabulous time at the AT Expo! It was great to see so many faces. I met many new people - vendors, people with disabilities, parents, the aging population, and even a librarian! It is amazing how AT, once considered a very specialized field, really impacts everyone. One older couple I talked to said that they are determined to stay in their home as long as possible, and they were hoping to find some assistive technology to help them do just that. I also met a parent who thanked me for sending out the fliers to students because otherwise she would not have known about the Expo.
I also was part of helping Mark Coppin with his presentations on the iPod touch/iPad for special education. These sessions couldn't have come at a better time with the release of the iPad. The Wednesday session completely filled up, so Mark added a Friday session, which was also full! There are some wonderful resources to check out at this Ning site: http://ipods4specialneeds.ning.com/
At the West Fargo Schools booth, I was handing out flexible pencils. They were a HUGE hit! People kept coming up to my booth and saying, "Oh, THIS is where the cool pencils are coming from!" To me, it just made sense to give pencils - but I, of course, couldn't just give regular pencils. They had to be ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY pencils!
One thing I really wanted to discuss is the label maker I had on my table. People at first glance thought it was a communication device. When they looked closer - they noticed it was a label maker. They wondered why a label maker was on my table as AT. I explained that it helps students to organize their things, and for students with fine motor issues - they can use the label maker to print their answers and stick on fill-in-the blank worksheets and tests. People were really excited about those ideas! Something as ordinary as a label maker can be assistive technology, who knew? I presented a class a few weeks ago on AT, and I brought random household items (pizza cutter, lazy susan, magnetic chip clips, picture frame, kitchen drawer liner, etc) and had the attendees brainstorm how these items could be assistive technology. The responses were fantastic! This just shows that AT can be anything. It doesn't have to be fancy, sophisticated, and cost thousands of dollars, it just needs to be functional for the student.
In closing, the AT Expo was truly a success. My tweets ended up getting the news crew there - which was very exciting exposure for the event! I hope that you will share the great news of the Expo to your friends and family, and I hope to see you all there next year! www.atexpo.org