High-Tech Help for Disabled People

Utilitarian gizmos ranging from simple Velcro to voice-recognition computers will be on display at this week's 11th annual Technology and Persons With Disabilities conference, sponsored by Cal State Northridge's Center on Disabilities.

More than 2,200 people are expected to attend the conference, which will take place at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott and Hilton hotels from Tuesday through Saturday.

"It's the largest conference of its kind in the world," said Harry Murphy, director of the Center.

In all, the conference will boast 30,000 square feet of exhibition space and more than 100 informational sessions.

The gathering has the twin aims of physically empowering disabled people and helping them keep current with technological trends.

"It is unlikely that as a society we will ever use less technology than we do now," Murphy said. "Technology is especially important for persons with disabilities because they have special needs in three areas--education, empowerment and independent living."

As such, the conference includes sessions on Empowering Physically Disabled Individuals With Virtual Reality and Management of Dysphagia Utilizing Automated Seating and Positioning Equipment, among dozens of others.

Sessions are geared toward people with hearing, vision or mobility impairments, learning or developmental disabilities or brain trauma.

The pre-conference sessions on Tuesday cost $245, and the four-day conference from Wednesday through Saturday costs a separate $345.

For more information, call the Center on Disabilities at (818) 885-2578.

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