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PACER cosponsors first Indo-U.S. AT conference

Winter 2007
By Patricia Bill

India’s first national conference on assistive technology confirmed PACER Center’s international presence and laid the groundwork for further Indo-United States collaboration.

Conference participantsPACER was instrumental in planning what is considered a major step in international collaboration affecting children and others with disabilities.

“Information Technology Uses and Needs for Children and Adults with Disabilities: An Indo-U.S. Partnership Conference,” conducted Dec. 5-6 in Bangalore, drew 120 invited blue-ribbon participants from across India. Those attending represented the government, businesses, universities, parents, advocates, and NGOs (Nongovernment Organizations). Twelve Americans, including three from PACER, attended.

The Indian National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped (Dr. L. Govinda Rao, director) and PACER Center (Paula F. Goldberg, executive director) cosponsored the conference. The Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, New Delhi, funded it. Paul Ackerman, international consultant on disability, was conference organizer, and Kristi Wieser, IBM executive and a member of PACER’s Advisory Board, assisted with the conference.

Conference presenters included representatives of PACER; the University of Washington; Target Services, India; Google, India; Microsoft, India; and many other Indian groups.

As a result of the conference’s success, discussion is underway to establish many assistive technology projects, similar to PACER’s Simon Technology Center, in India.

“Our colleagues in India did a fantastic job of planning and facilitating the conference,” said Goldberg. “The people attending the conference were very knowledgeable about technology and disabilities. Across India there is a broad interest in assistive technology, as well as in the conference. A press conference attracted more than 30 journalists from Indian publications.

“The India-PACER relationship is a natural,” Goldberg continued. “India is a leader in technology, and it has millions of people who will benefit from assistive technology. Many of its large companies have ties to the U.S. The two nations also have mutual interests in educational research and providing a competent workforce for the future.

“It’s been a great match. I believe that high quality partnerships, such as we have with India, can truly make a difference in the world for people with all disabilities,” she said.

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