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Tech's Evolution + Revolution: 3rd Annual Tech Supports for Cognition & Learning Conference

Posted on : 03/29/2018

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On Tues., March 27, The Arc Westchester co-hosted our third annual conference focused on helping individuals with cognitive disabilities lead a more independent life using tech. This year, we had our largest and most diverse audience ever, and we are proud to say that our list of partners who made this event possible has grown to include Mercy College, AHRC New York City, Westchester Library System, Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES and Visting Nurse Service of Westchester (VNS).

The event brought together the leading minds in technology, education and learning, clinical supports and direct service supports to engage and excite a community of thinkers who will continue to build bridges between technology and cognitive supports for people with disabilities.

The morning kicked off with opening remarks from Timothy L. Hall, JD, President of Mercy College; Joan Toglia, Dean of Mercy College School of Health and Natural Sciences; and Ric Swierat, Executive Director of The Arc Westchester.

The first presentation of the day was the Keynote Address from David Banes, Director of David Banes Access and Inclusion Services and former CEO of Mada, Qatar Assistive Technology Centre. David’s engaging talk lasted over an hour, and touched upon how technology can help create a balance between Autonomy, Duty and Safety for those with cognitive disabilities. He spoke about tech that was not created specifically for those with disabilities (such as Uber and Text to Speech) and how they can be used in simple ways to drastically improve the lives of those with cognitive issues. He also touched upon the ease and low cost of these technologies make them more accessible to those who can benefit most from them.

When discussing the future of tech and its role for those with cognitive and learning disabilities, David shared examples of how the following can be used to help improve independence as well as safety:

  • Wearable Tech
  • Smart Homes & Home Automation
  • 3D Printing
  • Virtual & Augmented Reality
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence

Additional guest speakers included Dr. Andre L. Washington, Ph.D., CRC from Langston University, who spoke on Virtual Reality Uses in Vocational Rehabilitation, and Dennis Cleary, MS., OTD, OTR/L from Ohio State University, who presented two breakout sessions focused on design thinking and VocFit.com. Additional Breakout Sessions featured presenters from Apple, Microsoft, Tobii Dynavox and many others.

The Exhibitor area at Tech Supports for Cognition & Learning included some the latest products and services that make a better life possible for people with cognitive disabilities. During the lunch period, a series of fast-paced Ignite Talks ® featured inspiring stories of the use of everyday tech and its impact on the people who use it. We are grateful for their participation. Our exhibitors include: Digital Arts Experience, Flaghouse, Identifor, Littman Krooks LLP, Microsoft, National Disability Institute, New York Presbyterian Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, Simply Home, Tobii Dynavox, Tommie Cares Foundation, Vital Care Services and the Westchester Institute for Human Development.

From left: keynote David Banes, David Banes Access and Inclusion Services; Dennis Cleary, Faculty Member, Division of Occupational Therapy, The Ohio State University; Richard Swierat, Executive Director, The Arc Westchester; Joan Toglia, Ph.D., Dean of School of Health and Natural Sciences, Mercy College; Timothy Hall, JD, President, Mercy College; Jordan Jankus, The Arc Westchester; Dr. Andre Washington, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Counseling & Disability Studies, Langston University; Jennifer Harriton-Wilson, Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES; Phil Proctor, AHRC NYC; and Rob Caluori, Westchester Library System.


The day concluded with a wrap up panel with representatives from the organizing groups that focused on tech resources. During the panel, The Arc Westchester and the Westchester Library System announced the creation of the first web resource in the Hudson Valley listing information on how to contact experts that can help you explore technology solutions and learn more about this rapidly-evolving field.

We are grateful to our event sponsors: Altice Business, Flaghouse, Flightpath, HSBC Bank USA, Littman Krooks LLP, Tommie Cares Foundation and New York Presbyterian. Their support made this day possible.

The Arc Westchester maintains a technology page that offers a wide range of information on how everyday technology can be of benefit to people with cognitive disabilities. Check it out at www.arcwestchester.org/technology.

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