Last year I had the pleasure of attending edCampAccess International at ATIA in Orlando, Florida. edCamp is a surging movement of FREE participant-driven professional development among K-12 educators with an interest in technology. edCampAccess spins off this interest to focus on reaching students with special needs and the technologies and strategies that are making a difference. What distinguishes edCamps from other conferences and PD opportunities is that they are developed organically by those who show up. Participants may propose discussions for time slots and rooms--perhaps with slides, perhaps with simply chairs in a circle. All attendees are encouraged to deploy the rule of two feet: if a conversation isn't working for you, you are welcome to get up an join another. Topics tend to be timely, relevant, and just in time... particularly for the person leading who may be looking for help as much as looking to share. edCamps are completely non-commercial, vendors may participate without their wares only, and each edCampAccess begins with a panel of students talking about their tech experiences--often the highlight of the day!
It's a unique opportunity to attend an edCampAccess at ATIA. ATIA--the Assistive Technology Industry Association conference and tech expo--is well-regarded for its size, volume of rich education offerings, hands-on tech opportunities and, most of all, for its sense of community among and between industry, practitioners, and individual AT users and their families. This community is made more intimate at edCampAccess following several days of ATIA offerings. Last year the even took place Saturday, and most ATIA-ers were already heading home. Left behind, however, were some of the biggest names in the field and they were eager to join a more informal and low-key conversation about the challenges and opportunities confronted by people from everywhere.
So my message is this: if you are attending ATIA2016 and have the flexibility to stay for edCamp Access, don't miss out. Plus your attendance can only enrich the venue. This year edCampAccess will take place on Friday, February 5th, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. More people should have opportunity to attend because ATIA's education offerings continue into Saturday. The event is organized by long-time edCamp enthusiasts, organizers, and AT experts Karen Janowski (founder of the Boston edCampAccess), Mike Marotta (of edCampAccess NJ fame) and Brian Wojcik (University of Nebraska at Kearney). Learn more at the edCampAccess wiki (and register for free).