Welcome to RESNA 2014

Welcome from the President

President Alex Mihailidis

Welcome to RESNA 2014 in beautiful Indianapolis! We’re honored to have you join us in this great Midwestern city.

This year’s conference program is unique in so many ways. First, we have an incredible line-up of inspiring plenary speakers, who truly exemplify this year’s theme, “Racing Towards Excellence in AT.”  Sam Schmidt is a former Indy 500 racecar driver, now a racing company owner and an AT user.  Sam will share with us his passion for life and independence, and discuss how critical it is for assistive technology to continue to push the envelope.  Bioethicist and researcher Dr. Gregor Wolbring will ask us to consider our role in this field as technology shifts from helping people with disabilities be more “normal” (whatever that means) to offering super-human enhancements to the body. Then Dr. Cole Galloway will urge us to expand our definition of the rehab environment beyond the current paradigm, and challenge our thinking about the “right way” to develop AT and conduct research. These speakers will help set the tone for this year’s conference, and inspire all of us, whether we are researchers, clinicians, or professionals. 

I’m also really looking forward to Movie Night, and seeing the award-winning documentary Fixed: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement. This film recently won an award at the 2014 International Documentary Film Festival in Calgary, Canada. It forecasts a not-too-distant future of bionic human body parts, brain interfaces, and “designed” babies that will questions the meaning of the words “disability” and “human.”  Dr. Wolbring, who appears in the film, will be on hand to discuss it with us. This is a topic that has relevance to all of us and our work in assistive technology.

Another special aspect of this year’s event is that for the first time, several past presidents of RESNA are coming together at the conference to discuss their experiences and RESNA’s future. These men and women mentored me when I was just starting out, and to a large extent are responsible for my involvement with RESNA.  I’m looking forward to hearing their thoughts and ideas about the future.

And finally, there’s nothing like having the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. That’s what I always look forward to the most.   Please don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to me or any of the other Board members that are here. We hope you have a wonderful time.

Alex Mihailidis, PhD, P.Eng
Twitter: @IATSL

Welcome from the Conference Chair

Are you ready to rev up your engines for this year’s conference?  We’ve got an exciting program planned for you, with over 40 workshops, great plenary speakers, platform and poster sessions, a unique exhibit hall, and several social events.

What makes the RESNA conference unique? I think it’s the people. There’s no other conference devoted to assistive technology that has such a multi-disciplinary focus. Clinicians, engineers, researchers, educators, suppliers, manufacturers, technology developers – we’ve all come to RESNA to network, exchange ideas, and think about the future. 

Thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors and exhibitors. This year, we’re thrilled to have the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association join us as a Gold-level sponsor. We also want to thank our returning sponsor, Quantum, for their unfailing support of RESNA. This year, Prairie Seating Corporation is a first-time sponsor, after having been a RESNA exhibitor for years. Engaging and inspiring the next generation of AT leaders is very important, and so we have to thank all of our student competition sponsors: the National Science Foundation and TREAT for the Student Design Competition, and  Paralyzed Veterans of America for the Student Scientific Paper Competition. 

Please make a point of visiting the exhibit hall. We have several returning exhibitors and several new ones. Check out “RERC Row,” which features several of the federally-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers and their latest projects.  Make sure you stop by the LeTourneau University booth and participate in their wheelchair study – the students would really appreciate it. There are several new types of wheelchairs to see, and even more new technologies to discover. Because RESNA is so intimate, this is your chance to engage one-on-one with the exhibitors, ask your questions, and provide your input on new features or products you’d like.

Like Alex, I’m really looking forward to the plenary speakers and the documentary film screening. But I’m also looking forward to meeting new people and having the chance to connect with my peers. So join me at the ballpark on Friday night! The local conference committee is hosting RESNA at Victory Field, right across the street from the hotel, where the Indianapolis Indians will take on the Durham Bulls, complete with fireworks after the game.  Hope to see you there.

As always, if you have ideas for anything we can do to make the conference better, please let anyone on the Board, Meetings Committee, or staff know. We appreciate all of your input.  Have a wonderful conference!

Alisa Brownlee, ATP
Follow me on Twitter: @alsassistivetec
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