Technology conference helping people with disabilities

SAN DIEGO – Hundreds of researchers, inventors and service providers are spending the next few days showing off the latest gadgets and programs to help people with disabilities.

The annual Assistive Technology Conference is in downtown San Diego this week.

Imagine, using your eyes, and only your eyes to communicate exactly how you feel or what you need.

“Think of someone with ALS, a very debilitating disease and as their disease progression goes on, they start to lose mobility, lose ability to do essentially everything but their eyes work perfect,” said Daniel Proudfoot, regional director, Tobii Dynavox.

This is a speech generated device.  It gives people the ability to have a voice.  It also allows them to write e-mails or browse through social media without ever having to type on a keyboard.

“Some folks may not be able to have a level of independence in communicating that maybe you and I expect today, but the goal is always to help people communicate better or more efficiently or quicker than they are able to right now with their current means,” said Proudfoot.

The CAL State Northridge Assistive Technology conference is the world’s largest meeting of educators, researchers and consumers dedicated to presenting and exploring new ways technology can help people with disabilities.

“It’s essential you have to give people the opportunity to advance as far as they want to, they should be able to do anything they want to regardless of disability they have,” said Sandy Plotin, organizer of CAL State Northridge Assistive Technology Conference.

Companies like View Plus are helping make braille easier and more accessible to people who are blind or have low vision.

Its advance system of tactile graphics helps a person interrupt things much better.

“Instead of just a braille dot, one braille dot, we can pack multiple braille dots into an area with multiple dot heights, so you can think of eight different dot heights mean eight different grey scales type combinations so you can represent a picture much more realistically than you can line art,” said Dan Gardner, CEO, View Plus Technologies.

And that includes braille with sound effects.

The conference includes more than three hundred sessions and an exhibit room with over 120 displays that creates an inclusive environment for just about everyone.

This is the 32nd year for the event, and it’s not just for service providers, community members are also welcome to attend.  The conference runs now through this weekend.

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