Mpls. Conference Showcases Technology for People with Disabilities

Updated: 10/10/2013 6:20 AM By: Naomi Pescovitz

Technology levels the playing field for people with disabilities. This week, the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington is hosting an international conference showcasing the latest technologies in that field. It's called "Closing the Gap" and features hundreds of presentations and exhibits with the latest gadgets.

Several Minnesota companies are a part of the conference, along with exhibitors and visitors from Canada and 10 other countries around the world.

"There's people all over and it's nice to have it right in our back door, that we don't have to go anywhere to do it," said mom and volunteer Lisa Larson.

Andrea Aarstad came to the conference with her 2-year-old daughter, Miah. She has a rare genetic disorder called CDKL5. She cannot walk and has trouble communicating and using her hands.

"As far as her being able to communicate with me, that would be the biggest thing," Aarstad said.

Miah and Andrea Aarstad toured the conference Wednesday afternoon. They spent time visiting an exhibit by Roseville company Ablenet, which blends play and learning through technology.

"It gives them a chance to engage with the people and the world around them, and these types of technologies allow those things to happen for those individuals," said Ablenet CEO Jennifer Thalhuber.

On the other side of the conference hall, Twin Cities business Beyond Adaptive displayed mounts and key-guards for tablets.

"Somebody without great motor control might have trouble getting to the right button and sliding around. And when you actually add a key-guard, now they can anchor on the top of this and get through and then get to the proper button," said John Shuster.

On Friday, the exhibits will be free and open to the public from 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. in the afternoon. There are also parent scholarships available for the rest of the conference. Click here for more information.