I attended The 30th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (known as CSUN) from March 4-6, 2015. I haven’t been to CSUN for several years. I did attend briefly last year but had to leave after my presentation on the first day to attend a funeral.
The conference has certainly changed over the years since I last attended! The conference now seems more “high tech” and aimed at developers and corporate interests. I’m not complaining about the elaborate and competing parties by Google, SSB Bart Group, and Dequeue but they do change the atmosphere. I think that is inevitable but I did hear some exhibitors complaining that the conference is now focused more on programming and Web access rather than assistive technologies and devices. I think that is acceptable as the Web is so entwined into our lives these days and it is critical that websites and applications are accessible. But, it is sad to see such a popular venue for assistive technology manufacturers losing exhibitors and perhaps attendees.
In walking around the exhibit hall I was amazed at how many of the products were focused on visual issues with very few dealing with hearing or even cognitive issues. I remember education being a much larger presence in the past. Although, education was still represented and there are many sessions geared towards educators.
As far as sessions go, I believe that there are too many or they are improperly scheduled. It is frustrating for someone to prepare a presentation and only have 5 people attend. This isn’t necessarily a reflection on the topic, but is related to what other sessions are being presented at the same time. While it is great to have so many session choices, because there are so many an attendee has to make hard choices to prioritize the options. And often times you may get closed out of a session because it is in a small room. I think the CSUN folks could use some scheduling help. Although, I do realize that guessing the popularity of some sessions may be difficult.
I do look forward to CSUN and am happy to have attended. It was great to chat and party with folks in the “Accessibility Tribe.” I generally see these folks only once or twice a year and it is great to reconnect and find out what they are doing.
Until next year…