RESNA sets packed agenda

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Friday, June 1, 2018

ARLINGTON, Va. – With a location near downtown Washington, D.C., RESNA 2018 will feature keynote presentations and participation from a number of federal agencies with interests in the disability community.

Groups like the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), the government’s primary disability research agency, will also host leadership meetings at the conference, July 13-15 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, says Mary Ellen Bunning, president-elect of RESNA and a retired occupational therapist that specialized primarily in wheelchair seating and mobility.

The conference, whose theme this year is “Ingenuity AT Work,” with AT short for assistive technology, will also feature for the second year in a row a Colin McLaurin Distinguished Lectureship Award and a Developers Showcase.

Gregg Vanderheiden, a professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, is this year’s distinguished lecturer and someone Bunning calls a “mentor” and a “genius.”

“He’s done so much to make the world more digitally accessible,” she said, including leading the effort to develop the EZ-Access package of cross-disability access features that are now built into Amtrak ticket machines, automated postal stations, Homeland Security passport kiosks and other ITMs across the country.

The Developers Showcase is an informal event in the evening—over and above the AT Exhibit Hall—that allows developers to get feedback on their new and emerging technologies.

“Because our attendees range from consumers to biomechanists to practitioners across professions, it’s a rich venue for getting feedback,” said Roger Smith, Ph.D., OT, FAOTA, RESNA Fellow, the president of RESNA and a professor in the Department of Occupational Science & Technology in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Other highlights of RESNA 2018, Bunning and Smith say: a new special interest group for those practicing in the K-12 school setting; and plenary sessions from international speakers Lord Holmes of Richmond, Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmer, Natasha Layton of Australia and Evandro Guimaraes of Brazil.