I recently attended my first "live" conference in more than 10 years. It was one of the most informative and action-packed adventures I've had. I was able to connect with people, collect numbers, share experiences and sample some new technology that is available to those who need it (and are able afford it).
This conference was not what you would think. It had nothing to do with physical therapy and yet I learned more in this conference in two days than I ever expected. The focus of the conference was about educating and empowering students with disabilities and for those students to take charge of their education, speak up at IEP meetings and learn how to navigate the governmental systems put into place for their own "good."
While at the seminars, I learned about some pioneers in the disability rights movements. I thought it strange that in history class years ago I learned about Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Mohandas Gandhi but I never heard of Ed Roberts and Judy Heumann, who were instrumental in defining changes within the government to allow people with disabilities more rights. And as recently 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law and had amended changes that were to take effect in January 2009. Imagine if any other group had to wait that long for civil rights legislation to be passed.
I did meet an ST and a PT who were peddling goods for large companies like they were at a medieval faire. The products were new and would benefit a lot of people but the price was prohibitive for most families who attended. I do not know which is worse, having therapists push a corporation's products because they are "rehab experts," or the corporation itself that develops a product to assist with accommodations and then doesn't make the product readily available to everyone who needs it.