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RESNA experiments with conference

RESNA experiments with conference

WASHINGTON – RESNA is making the most of having to hold its annual conference virtually again this year, using the format to add more days and try new sessions.  

The conference takes place July 7-9 – a full three days. 

“Last year, we shortened the conference to two days and this year we’ve added back that third day,” said Andrea Van Hook, executive director. “We had so many quality submissions (for presentations) this year and the response was so positive last year that we felt we could schedule another day.” 

RESNA’s board of directors decided in January to hold the conference virtually for the second year in a row. 

In addition to the more traditional two keynote sessions and 24, 60-minute sessions, this year’s conference includes two new types of sessions: three, 90-minute master classes for advanced practitioners like ATPs; and 12, 30-minute buzz sessions. The focus of the buzz sessions will be “hot topics” like using virtual reality for accessibility, says Van Hook. 

“We’ve wanted to try a mix of sessions for a while now and being virtual gave us an excuse to try it,” she said. “It gives you the opportunity to pack in more information and content. That’s what we wanted to experiment with.” 

In addition to the Virtual Exhibit Hall, this year’s conference brings back the Developer’s Showcase by leveraging a new virtual platform that will allow attendees to enter and exit “rooms,” Van Hook says. 

“At our in-person events, they would move from table to table and now we’re able to recreate that virtually,” she said. “Developers will also be able to have their information on the platform for the length of the conference, instead of just the two hours of the showcase.” 

The theme of this year’s conference, “Welcome Home,” may seem like an odd choice for a virtual conference, but it’s a nod to RESNA’s inclusivity, Van Hook says. 

“We originally picked the theme because we thought we’d be in-person,” she said. “But we kept it because we’re the professional home for everyone in assistive technology. We invited all of our stakeholder partners to submit sessions, including NCART and The Clinician Task Force.” 

The theme is also a nod to one of the conference’s keynote speakers, Dr. Molly Follette Story, a senior advisor in Sanofi’s Medical Device Development Unit, who got her start at RESNA working on human factors and design. 

“Molly is bringing it back around to the RESNA home,” said Doug Gayton, RESNA’s 2021 conference chair. “Who would have guessed she’d be doing this from her home to ours.” 


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