We attended the first ATEC (Assistive Technology in Education Conference) on the 17th May as delegates, wondering what to expect, but with the intention of making connections with other Assistive Technology professionals and coming away with ideas and inspiration. The provision of bacon butties and hot coffee on arrival, after a very early start through some heavy traffic and a country detour, was a very welcome and promising start to the day! The keynote speakers set the tone, with the final keynote by Debra Charles challenging us about the use of the word ‘normal’ in the context of learning and achieving success being particularly thought-provoking.
As a provider of Assistive products and services, it was a great opportunity to chat to other exhibitors and attend seminars about the application of their solutions, not only to keep abreast of new and innovative products and information in the constantly changing field of Assistive Technology, but to build relationships and explore where there might be some synergy between other ideas, products and their application in the real life arenas of work and education.
A spread of seminars across the day eschewed the virtues of various products, information or services, so there seemed to be something of interest for everyone. There are many different digital assistive technologies available to support learners of all ages and stages of education and in the work place that it can be a little bewildering to know which to use and how to ensure that the technology is appropriate for the person so that it works for them. Abi James’ session provided very useful insights into the reasons why the take-up and continued use of an assistive technology solution can often fall by the way-side and how this can be overcome.
So was the conference worth going to and would we go again? Our purpose was to join in, rather be a spectator, to be informed, inspired and to renew and make new connections. Attending the ATEC conference also allowed us a breathing space to see where Connect sits within the field of Assistive Technology and how we can improve what we do and how we do it. So, the answer to the question is a definite ‘yes’. Well done ATEC on a really successful inaugural conference! Hope we can connect with you at the 2nd ATEC conference next year?