Access and Inclusion through Technology

Access Technology - Today and Tomorrow

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Working with Delegates at ATIA 2017

I had the good fortune to spend much of the ATIA conference this year in the company of international delegates in my role as International ambassador. For those who have never been ATIA is a major US conference devoted to the AT industry with over 300 seminars, a major exhibition and over 2000 delegates. The days are long with sessions starting at 8am and events running until 7.30pm,  and that's when the informal networking starts ! It is the very scale of what is available that can seem daunting. For those flying from Europe, Middle East and the Far East some support to get the most from the event is appreciated.

One of the first things we encouraged new delegates to consider is registering as a speaker. Whilst this might sound onerous, there is no better way of finding fellow delegates with similar interests, it is very usual at the end of sessions to find the speakers and their audience arranging times to continue conversations and discussing potential sharing and networking for the future. Take plenty of business cards !

Once registered as a speaker, you will start to see the conference program emerging, and at this point a little help in understanding some of the sessions and choosing those that really helped hit the aims of attending was appreciated. One of the interesting things is that a terminology begins to emerge around conferences, buzzwords and jargon can sneak in, and understanding what some of that means makes decision making a,lot easier. What exactly is the difference between a Bootcamp, a town hall and an unconference, the terms can appear a little daunting.

Knowing what you really want to achieve in attending is very helpful at this stage, it is also a good time to start to apply for visas, leaving the application late can cause last minute problems and event an inability to travel. Fortunately ATIA were very helpful and supportive of those whose visa requests were rejected.

So at this stage we have planned to go round the exhibition and have filled the diary with seminars, when the opportunity to meet with other delegates emerges. One of the main reasons to attend ATIA is to network with like minded professionals, and there are a lot of them!.Setting up those meetings, brokering introductions and helping make the most out of every minute our delegates were attending was our objective, and we seemed to achieve it.

So we are starting work on ATIA 2018, it will soon be time to promote the call for papers and im looking forward to continuing the role in 2018. Why not think about joining us, Ill be there to help!

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