EdTech, community (and tea): ATIA 2019

Luke Garbutt

Meet Luke, Sonocent’s Content Writer. He specialises in bringing you the most insightful, current news from across the Education and Assistive Technology industry.

I only found out about the ribbons on day two. By then, most of the good ones had gone. Up to that point, I thought the fancy passes I’d seen had been homemade. As you can probably tell, this was my first ATIA, and it was truly eye-opening.

I’ll make sure I get to the ribbon table early next time. But for now, I’d like to say thanks to all of you that came to our stand and made the conference such a great, rewarding experience.

My Conference Goals

My primary intention going in to ATIA was simply to connect with people working in or with EdTech.

Sonocent’s been exhibiting at ATIA for years, but I’m a newcomer to the industry. I wanted to get some insight into what’s happening right now on the cutting edge, as well as learning from people in disability support how assistive technology is already shaping classrooms. As it turned out, this wasn’t difficult at all. You’re a very friendly bunch!

My secondary purpose, however, was to talk to you about the launch of our new blog.

A New Platform for You

The new Sonocent blog is designed as a space for people in education and disability support to come and share ideas, gain useful information and join a wider conversation about tech in the classroom.

We have our initial batch of content on the blog now. These pieces focus on the specific obstacles students with disabilities still face and what role AT could play in helping these students achieve their full potential. As we add to the blog, we’ll explore other areas relevant to disability support, EdTech and more.

The task we’d set visitors to our stand at ATIA was to tell us about the challenges they face in supporting their students, writing these on cards we could pin to a board we’d brought along with us.

In the end, we had over 50 cards up (surely this can’t all be down to our bribe of British tea and chocolate…).

And your expertise will be invaluable in exploring these themes.

Involving the Community

From the sessions I attended to the conversations at the stand, there was a sense of a community coming together to share ideas, help each other out and discuss new solutions for their students. This was the biggest takeaway for me as a first time ATIA attendee.

Working individually or in small teams, people in disability support at all levels of education have a focal point through conferences like ATIA to connect with one another. And we’d like our new blog to have a similar function.

We now have some great ideas for blog content that we hope will get the kind of discussions started that matter to you. But we don’t want this to be a one-sided dialogue. In the spirit of community we shared at ATIA, we want you to get involved, too.

Have a look at some of the highlights from our ideas board below to get a flavour of the conversations we were having. There might be a topic you could share some insight on!

The Highlights

From the many themes to emerge from the board, here are the top four suggestions:

Question: What challenges do you face in supporting your students?

Faculty buy-in (12 Cards)

So many of you mentioned the uphill battle you face with implementing AT in the face of skepticism from faculty and other staff. This was the top-ranking suggestion, and we’ll soon have a piece for you on how to address this problem.

Study Skills (9 Cards)

Supporting students has to involve encouraging independence. But without the right study skills, how can you break the cycle of dependency in the classroom? This was our 2nd highest ranking suggestion, and we’ll explore this question in detail in a series of posts.

Budget (5 Cards)

How do you smartly balance ever-tightening budgets? We spoke to a number of people dealing with this problem. Sound familiar? Tell us your story

Self-advocacy (4 Cards)

At college, students must self-advocate to get the services and support they need. But as we talked about with a few of you, this doesn’t always happen. Why this is, and what we can do about it, is what we want to discuss.

Tell Us More

If you have some thoughts to share on any of these topics, get in touch. Or you might have an issue or a challenge that hasn’t been mentioned that you’d like to tell us more about. We’re excited about what we could build with your support. Together, let’s start a conversation.

Any thoughts on what you just read?