Tips for the CSUN Conference Newbie

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The 27th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, informally known as "CSUN," begins this week in San Diego. CSUN is the largest conference of its kind, and the only one sponsored by a university. During the span of just 3 days, the conference will feature over 300 general sessions, and is host to the "who's who" in the accessibility community.

For some of you, this year may be your first time attending CSUN, and because this once tiny trade show is now an enormous premiere conference, we spent some time talking with Sandy Plotin - Managing Director for the Center on Disabilities, and our own accessibility superstar and CSUN veteran, Glenda Sims, about how to navigate the conference, and what you should not miss while there.

Be prepared! A visit to CSUN begins with preparation. You don't want to show up the first day and try to figure out what to do. Go online and look over the conference schedule, find the primary track that you are interested in and map out a game plan. Don't be overwhelmed by all of the candy in the candy store. Once you have created your plan, go back again and find some sessions that are completely outside of your scope. It's important to keep informed about other areas of accessibility. Glenda recommends checking out the emerging assistive technology track. You won't be disappointed!

When mapping out your plan for the CSUN conference this year, keep in mind that you will not need to pre-register for the specific sessions you will be attending during the conference. The CSUN organizers have worked hard to assign room space based on anticipated attendance for each session. Most rooms hold over 100 people, but a handful of rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors hold less than 100 people. You may want to keep this in mind and show up a little earlier for sessions in smaller rooms that might fill up. Based on information we've gathered from the hotel and conference organizers, the following rooms hold fewer than 100 people:

2nd Floor

  • Betsy AB
  • Edward AB
  • Edward CD
  • Gregory AB
  • Molly AB

3rd Floor

  • Emma C
  • Maggie

Don't just be a wallflower, meet the people that have paved the way! CSUN offers the opportunity to meet some of the fabulous researchers, academics, and other superstars in the accessibility arena! Before the conference, take a look at some of the people who have RSVP'd for the Thursday night tweetup and follow them on Twitter. The 4th annual Tweetup takes place at 6:30 PM in the Elizabeth Ballroom.

In addition to joining the Tweetup, make sure to keep up with their Twitter posts throughout the conference. This will allow you to see what sessions they are heading to, and even where they are going to lunch. By tweeting it out, they are inviting you to come along. This is another great way to find out about the sessions that people are most excited to attend. One session that Glenda highly recommends attending  is "Web Accessibility: The Role of the Law," with Lainey Feingold.

Visit the vendor area! Most vendor areas at conferences can be boring, but according to Glenda, the vendor area at CSUN is anything but boring. The accessibility field is truly exciting, and there are many opportunities to try out assistive technology first-hand, and to see some of the prototypes for technology that will be available in the future.

There are many opportunities that are absolutely free to the public at the conference, including several public forums and exhibits, so be sure to check them out as well!

Hot sessions on Glenda's must-visit list include:

  • Web Accessibility Collaboration
  • Does Accessibility Have to be Perfect?
  • Web Accessibility: The Role of the Law

What's on your CSUN must-visit list?  Come visit Deque at CSUN in Elizabeth Ballroom G!