If you missed out on Closing the Gap you will have another chance to go to a large well established conference in assistive technology. The ATIA conference will happens January 30 - February 2, 2008 in Orlando, Florida.
I have to be up front, I have never had the pleasure of attending ATIA. I am hoping to go this year. So I cannot talk about personal experience just from the feedback of others that have attended.
I like the fact that the exhibitor hall has unopposed time which means that you don’t have to miss a presentation or workshop to go the exhibit hall. One of the biggest frustrations that I often hear from participants at Closing the Gap is that they have to make a choice either presentations or the exhibitors. And if you have guess, participants pick the presentations.
Another thing that I have noticed is that ATIA builds in a lunch hour. Now this doesn’t seem like a big deal but let’s acknowledge the fact that we often skip meals because there are more important things to do. If you do not nourish and hydrate your body your brain will not be able to be nourished. This hour also gives you a chance to rest your body and mind.
I also like that ATIA has set up conference planner so you can plan your conference sessions out in advance. For some people this isn’t a big deal, for me I love a plan. I can deviate from the plan but it is nice to have one.
The biggest draw for ATIA seems to be the type of presentations that happen during the conference. Closing the Gap is more of an educational based conference. Many of the presentations center on Pre-K through 12. ATIA on the other hand has a nice sampling of presentations in various categories which include Advocacy and Policy, Independent living, blind and visual impairments, literacy, employment as well as transition to "post-secondary" education.
It also doesn't help that the conference is in the warm location of Orlando. You can learn about AT and see Mickey at the same time.
I hope others will share their experience of ATIA or other conferences.