California State University, Northridge has a long and impressive history of involvement in many different aspects of disability. This history extends back to 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 (COD), which has been growing and expanding since that time.
CSUN Assistive Technology Conference
COD advanced to the stage of conducting the longest-running and largest annual university-sponsored conference on technology and people with disabilities. This annual conference serves as a major training venue for professionals around the world involved in the fields of disability and technology.
The COD promotes the valuable role assistive technology can play in the accommodating people 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 CSUN Assistive Technology (formerly called the Annual International Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities) 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 people with a variety of disabilities. No one could have predicted the extraordinary growth and expansion the conference would experience as a result of increasing professional interest in the field of disability and introduction of new technologies with possible disability applications skyrocketed.
Over the years, the conference has grown to approximately 5,000 participants with presenters and exhibitors sharing technology devices, services and programs. Participants have represented all 50 states, numerous territories and more than 35 foreign countries. The conference attests to the perception that disability is an international issue. The widespread application of assistive technology forms a common basis for the delivery of accommodation services to people 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 of disability.
Training, grants and contracts
Since 1997, COD has sponsored national and international training programs to expand the knowledge base of professionals working in the field of disability. 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 The Tseng College to offer this training nationally and internationally. To date, the ATACP has more than 3,000 graduates.
Sandy Plotin, Managing Director
Sandy Plotin brings more than 20 years of experience as a higher education administrator to her position as managing director of the Center on Disabilities. Her knowledge of association management, tradeshow coordination and event planning, led to her appointment as liaison to the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee and the University of Southern California’s housing department for the Summer Olympic Games. Sandy graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
Julia Santiago, Assistant Director
Training and Community Development
Julia Santiago came to the Center on Disabilities with more than a decade of experience as a nonprofit director in the field of disability, developing innovative programs, with particular strengths in curriculum development and implementation and focusing on online learning and course design. Julia holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's in public administration from the University of Colorado.
Andrew Elkins, Event & Marketing Manager
Sean Goggin, Technologies Manager
Oleg Gokhman, Web Developer
Barbara Towar, Operations Manager