[Athen] "Stay-cation" version of attending an AT conference

Shelley Haven shelley at techpotential.net
Mon Oct 5 02:16:01 PDT 2009

Hi, all!

A philosophical take on dwindling conference budgets...

Remember "stay-cations"? The stay-at-home vacation alternative for
families on a tight budget? The general idea was to take the time off
which you would have spent on a travel vacation, but spend it relaxing
at home or on short (and cheap) day trips to local attractions.

Well, like many of you, my budget precludes attending any conferences
this fall. Bummer! During my years with Stanford, I typically took
in 1 to 2 AT conferences per year -- CSUN in March and often Closing
the Gap in Minneapolis in October. This fall I originally planned to
attend either CTG, Accessing Higher Ground, or the inaugural of ATIA-
Chicago. However, my bank account says otherwise.

I bemoaned missing the opportunity to see new technologies and to
attend classes by experts in the field until something occurred to me:
I always come home from those AT conferences with tons of literature
and demo CDs, page after page of session notes, and bubbling over with
ideas. But the reality of being gone a week dictated that the
following Monday morning I'd have to hit the ground running, so most
of the notes and CDs and great ideas stayed tucked away in their
complimentary conference totes, never to be seen or heard from again.

Aha! -- germ of an idea! I may not have the funds to travel and I'll
miss all the wonderful networking, but I'll be darned if I'm going to
miss out on the learning opportunities and keeping up to date on the
latest-and-greatest AT. So later this month, I am setting aside half
a week to "attend" my own little AT conference by revisiting the notes
I never acted on, trying out up-to-date versions of the software that
caught my eye, watching tutorials or archived webinars for new
products, and actually acting on those action items and ideas I always
pen in the margins of my notes. I have a year's worth of notes taken
with the Livescribe Pulse smartpen (3 conferences worth), so
revisiting selected parts of those sessions will be easy. I'll also
peruse the websites of companies announcing new products.

I will miss the personal networking, for sure, but I can still do a
lot with a dedicated investment of time but not money. (I do plan to
attend CSUN Conference on Disabilities next March, though, in their
new digs in San Diego.)

Hopefully there's an idea or two in there for those of you also
tending the home fires this conference season.

Take care, have fun, & feel fulfilled,

Shelley Haven ATP, RET
Assistive Technology Consultant
Shelley at TechPotential.net

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