For Immediate Release - September 20, 2011

Patrick-Murray Administration Hosts Assistive Technology and Universal Design Conference and Expo

Sept. 23 conference at Hynes Convention Center to showcase innovations in accessibility

BOSTON - The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that it will host "Products & Technologies that Change People's Lives," an all-day conference and expo, on Friday, September 23 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The event will showcase the impact of new and developing technologies that make daily life easier - and in many cases possible - for people with disabilities and for the aging population.

"This event demonstrates the human impact of some our most innovative technologies developed right here in Massachusetts," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Advances that foster inclusiveness and independence are necessary to help our most vulnerable populations help themselves."

The event will include exhibitors, panel discussions and a plenary session featuring Governor Patrick. The daylong expo of universal design and assistive technology will display new products and ideas and will include a hands-on demonstration area. The expo is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Jointly hosted by the Executive Offices of Health and Human Services, Education, and Housing and Economic Development, the September 23 expo and conference will also include a design competition. Awards will be presented to designers with less than 10 years of experience who have developed the best designs of products or technology that "change people's lives for the better." Participating designers were challenged to create solutions and "minimize limitation and facilitate living fully." The first-place winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize, made possible by the Perkins School for the Blind.

"Innovation is transforming the lives of women and men who previously found themselves restricted or limited," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. "This conference demonstrates our commitment to improving accessibility and underscores the thought leadership that makes it possible."

Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki said, "This expo is a testament to the Commonwealth's leadership in universal design. It is truly a nexus for innovation and economic opportunity across sectors."

"Assistive technology is creating unprecedented opportunities in distance and assisted learning," said Secretary of Education Paul Reville. "The impact is tremendous for students with disabilities, allowing them to pursue their educational goals and enriching our entire educational environment."

"Design is powerful and profoundly influences our daily lives and our sense of confidence, comfort, and control," said Valerie Fletcher, Director of the Institute for Human Centered Design, which has partnered with the Commonwealth to host the event. "Unfortunately, for too many people with functional limitations, design can be a negative construct that creates impediments and exaggerates limitations."

Fletcher said one of the lessons of the increasing focus on technology is that relying on new designs and products can be extremely cost-effective in addressing the a growing population with needs, physical, sensory, or cognitive. New products used by broad portions of the population, such as smart phones and iPads, offer radically new solutions for people who blind, low-vision, Deaf or with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

For the complete schedule and a list of the topics, sessions, and participants visit: www.changepeopleslives.org.

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