19 Apr East Texas Lighthouse Shines at Coastal Conventions
East Texas Lighthouse has been expanding its mission of empowerment and education from one coast to another by attending conventions of assistive technology.
“While our priority will always be our local East Texans, we have continuously felt that if we can help people beyond our own backyard… why not?” said Alicia Lansford, chief mission officer of East Texas Lighthouse.
With an exhibitor booth in Orlando, Florida, Lansford and her assistive technology team — Jan Lynch, Megan Aragon, and Brittney Walters — were able to provide educational sessions for professionals who work with those who are blind or visually impaired.
“Speaking at events like these give us a platform to show the talent, experience, and expertise we have here at East Texas Lighthouse and really show others in our field who we are,” said Lansford. “Our folks have so much passion for what we do, and it’s so fun to watch them soar.”
The East Texas Lighthouse team also delivered a presentation on February 4 at the 23rd annual convention of the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA).
“It was an honor to share our experiences with others, as we sure learned a lot during the process of taking our classes to a live, virtual setting,” Lynch said. “We had so many insightful questions after our session, and many from other states were excited to share our offerings with their state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.”
The Assistive Technology team at East Texas Lighthouse collectively represents over 75 years of professional and personal experience with services and technology for those who are blind.
“I am so proud of our Assistive Technology Team and our Client Services Manager, Amy Anderson,” Lansford said. “Together, they have all risen to the challenge and submitted proposals which were selected among some very large and well known names. Amy and her team work daily to not only provide the very best customer service to our local clients, but to ensure we provide hope to anyone who is blind or visually impaired no matter their geographic location.”
ATIA is the global leader in assistive technology, education, and research, as well as the premier organization for manufacturers, sellers and providers of assistive technology products, equipment, and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for persons with disabilities
“It’s such an exciting time,” said Aragon, “Having the opportunity to add our voice to the conversation, exchange ideas with other practitioners, and collaborate with organizations allows us to continuously improve our training programs and reach even more individuals who could benefit from our services.”
According to Lansford, other presenters at these conferences are national nonprofit organizations such as American Printing House for the Blind and big names in the technology industry such as Microsoft and Google.
“Being a small nonprofit from East Texas, which has never presented at this level before, getting this opportunity is huge for us and quite an accomplishment,” Lansford said.
The East Texas Lighthouse addressed practitioners and service providers, discussing strategies and approaches to deliver engaging, effective, and fast-paced virtual group training.
Through their Center on Disabilities, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) will host their 38th Annual Assistive Technology Conference in Anaheim, California on March 14th.
“Presenting at ATIA and CSUN is a great opportunity for us to network and share our programs,” said Brittney Walters, assistive technology instructor. “Not only are we presenting at the top two national tech conferences, but we also get the opportunity to expand our knowledge on new devices and upcoming software in the assistive technology world.”
East Texas Lighthouse will be presenting a session covering commonly used braille technology, and how to apply the appropriate technology based on the educational or workplace setting of an individual.
“That is what I have passion for,” said Walters. “I thrive on learning new things so that I can then turn around and apply it and teach it to my clients.”
Internationally recognized as the premier event in the field of technology and people with disabilities, CSUN will feature researchers, practitioners, educators, exhibitors, end-users, and more, coming together to share knowledge, new innovations, and best practices to promote inclusion for all.
East Texas Lighthouse offers multiple types of training for the blind community including general AT training, but for the past five years has been teaching specialized Microsoft Office classes to people who are blind across the nation.
“Whether we teach people directly or train trainers, our goal of more people who are blind having access to needed training is accomplished,” Lynch said.
Through presentation opportunities like ATIA and CSUN, East Texas Lighthouse can continue to expand its mission and impact through education and collaboration with others with the same goal of empowering the blind.
“While previously, (The Lighthouse) would attend industry conferences such as ATIA for our own professional development, in 2023 we’re engaging on a different level,” Aragon said. “Our unique expertise, and approach to developing blind individual’s confidence and competence with technology is exactly the kind of information other practitioners want to know and learn about… and really, we’re only just getting started.”
Tyler Morning Telegraph
March 9, 2023