RESNA 2015 increases in attendee, sponsorship, and exhibitor participation

Monday, June 29, 2015 - 12:00pm
Conference News

Conference highlights, Developer's Forum, and Award Winners

RESNA 2015 Exhibit Hall showing exhibitor interaction with attendeeThe Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America’s annual conference, held in Denver, CO, June 10-14, was a rousing success, with conference attendance increasing 13% over last year’s event. In addition, sponsorship more than doubled and the exhibit hall sold out. 
“We added more interactivity and hands-on learning to the conference program this year, and we’re gratified by the response," said Michael Brogioli, Executive Director. “Denver was a great location, and our Meetings Committee, led by John Anschutz, did a great job.” 
RESNA 2015 included 45 workshop sessions on a wide variety of assistive technology topics, including seating and mobility, communication, computer access, universal design, and new technologies; 9 scientific paper platform sessions; 40 scientific paper posters; a Developer’s Forum; student competitions for scientific papers and assistive technology design; the Assistive Technology Pavilion, with presentations from exhibitors and sponsors; and three plenary sessions with keynotes by innovative thought leaders. 

Conference Highlights - Plenary Sessions

  • “Assistive Technology in a Global Community” was the opening plenary session on Friday, June 12. Moderated by RESNA board member Maria Luisa Toro, MS, the session featured representatives from RESNA’s international partners: Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf from the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE); Inhyuk Moon, PhD, of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of Korea (RESKO); and Chapal Khasnabis of the World Health Organization (WHO). 
  • Saturday’s plenary session, “The Future of Assistive Technology,” was devoted to how current technology trends will enhance the lives and independence of individuals with cognitive disabilities. The speakers were William (Bill) T. Coleman III, technology entrepreneur and founder of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities; and Cathy Bodine, PhD, CCC-SLP, Associate Professor of the Department of Bioengineering, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado, and Executive Director, Assistive Technology Partners. 
  • The Maker Movement and how it can transform assistive technology product development was the closing plenary, featuring mechanical engineer Pete Stephens, who shared his experience building the world’s first 3D-printed car with industry innovator Local Motors. 

Developers Forum Developer demonstrating assistive writing device

Always a popular event at the RESNA conference, the Developers Forum provides a unique interactive opportunity for both large and small developers to obtain feedback and discuss ideas for new products and enhancements with engineers, rehab technologists, therapists, consumers and others in the field of assistive technology. RESNA’s student design competition semi-finalists, who are attending the conference, are also included with their projects. 

Eleven developers, including six student design competition semi-finalists, demonstrated their new products or product ideas to an engaged and interested audience of conference attendees. A full list of the developers, along with a short description of their technologies and contact information, can be found on the RESNA website at this link. The Developer’s Forum was sponsored for the third year by the Center for Translation of Rehabilitation Engineering Advances and Technology (TREAT)


RESNA’s awards program promotes leadership, innovation, and commitment in the fields of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology. 7 individuals and one organization were recognized for their contributions to RESNA and the field. Click here for a full list of the awards recipients.
RESNA presented its highest award, Honorary Fellow, to Dr. David Gray, a professor of occupational therapy at Washington University and a leading researcher, policymaker, and advocate for individuals with disabilities. Dr. Gray died suddenly earlier this year; his award was accepted by his daughter, Polly Payne, and his colleague, Dr. Kerri Morgan, a professor at Washington University. 

Student Design Competition 

The RESNA Student Design Competition (SDC) is an annual competition that showcases creative and innovative assistive technology designs that help people with disabilities function more independently. Student teams represent a wide variety of disciplines including mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering; computer information science; architecture; and physical and occupational therapy. This year’s competition was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Center for Translation of Rehabilitation Engineering Advances and Technology (TREAT). 
The 2015 competition attracted 45 entries from an international array of universities. Six semi-finalists were invited to attend RESNA 2015, where they presented their designs to a panel of judges, attended sessions, and networked with assistive technology professionals. The top three awards went to:
Student Design Competition volunteer Emma Smith, winner Garrett Kryt, and RESNA volunteer Jerry WeismanIn addition, Garrett Kryt, a fourth-year undergraduate engineering student from British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, Canada, was awarded the “Technology Most Likely to Become Commercially Available” prize, sponsored by TREAT. His project, “Design of a Hitch Mounted Car Rack for a Handcycle,” solved a problem for a client that owned a customized electric-assist handcycle that did not fit commercially-available racks. The prize comes with a $500 cash prize and an internship at the TREAT facility in Lebanon, NH, to develop the product for market.  All of the student design semi-finalist entries are posted on the website at this link.
RESNA 2015 sponsors include AT&T, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, and Ride Designs (Gold level); Innovations Health, Permobil, and Quantum Rehab (Silver level); Invacare and Sunrise Medical (Bronze level); and the National Science Foundation, TREAT, and Paralyzed Veterans of America (student competitions). 
Next year’s conference is a collaboration between RESNA and NCART, the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology. RESNA/NCART 2016 is July 12-15 at the Hyatt Regency in Arlington, VA. For more information, visit 2016.