California State University, Northridge has a long and impressive history of involvement in many different aspects of disability. This history extends back as far as 1961, preceding Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In 1983, the University officially approved the creation of the Center on Disabilities which has been growing and expanding since that time.
Annual International Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities
The Center has advanced to the stage of conducting the longest-running and largest annual university sponsored conference on technology and persons with disabilities. This annual conference serves as a major training venue for professionals around the world involved in the field of disability and technology.
The Center on Disabilities promotes the valuable role that assistive technology can play in the accommodation of persons with disabilities in all environments including education, employment and independent living. The Center's international conference, "Technology and Persons with Disabilities," serves as a venue for providing effective and quality educational opportunities to everyone involved in the field of disability services.
The "Technology and Persons with Disabilities" conference began with modest roots. It was started by a group of educational professionals interested in pursuing the possible application of technology to the needs of persons with a variety of disabilities. No one could have predicted the extraordinary growth and expansion the conference would experience. This was due to an increasing number of professionals becoming interested in the field, while the introduction of new technologies with possible disability applications skyrocketed.
Over the years, the conference has grown to almost 5,000 participants, with presenters and exhibitors sharing technology devices, services and programs. Participants have represented all 50 states, numerous territories, and over 35 foreign countries. The conference is a testimonial to the perception that disability is an international issue. The widespread application of AT forms a common basis for the delivery of accommodation services to persons with disabilities on a worldwide basis. The conference serves as an annual meeting venue for many organizations involved in the delivery of assistive technology services to special populations throughout the world.
The conference continues to excel at communicating the rapid changes in technology and is recognized for presenting the latest trends and research in the field.
Training, Grants, and Contracts
Since 1997, the Center on Disabilities has sponsored national and international training programs to expand the knowledge base of professionals working in the disability field. These programs aid the professional in understanding the full impact of all forms of assistive technology in all potential areas of application.
The Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) was originally developed in 1997 and is designed to offer a "certificate" in the area of assistive technology applications with 10 continuing education units. The Center has established a partnership with CSUN's College of Extended Learning to offer this training both nationally and internationally. To date, the ATACP has over 3,000 graduates.