Conference eyes how technology can improve lives of people with cognitive disabilities

CU's Coleman Institute sets topical agenda for ninth annual event
By Staff
Claudia and conf attendees

Claudia Coleman, far left, chats with Kelly Stahlman and others at a past Coleman Institute conference.

The economy, technology and quality of life are topics prominent in today's world — and they'll converge at an event of unusual reach throughout the University of Colorado.

The Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities' ninth annual conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology is set for Nov. 5 at the Westin Westminster Hotel. It's expected to draw between 250 and 300 attendees from across the campuses and across the country, with more than 20 states represented.

The institute emphasizes the use of science, engineering, and technology to improve the quality of life and independent living of people with cognitive disabilities. More than 22 million people in the U.S. — 334,000 in Colorado — are affected by intellectual disabilities, brain injury, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and serious, persistent mental illness.

Faculty participants at the conference will have the opportunity to present posters at the conference's research and demonstration sessions, learn about interdisciplinary and multicampus collaborations, visit vendor exhibits and participate in focused roundtables.

"The conference is a collaborative, multidisciplinary forum," said David Braddock, associate vice president for the CU system and the institute's executive director. "It's designed to bring together university faculty and administrators, students, the business community, agency and association representatives, people with cognitive disabilities and their families, and service providers, to increase awareness of the issues, particularly technology-related issues, which affect people with cognitive limitations."

Braddock noted that the Coleman Institute is the only systemwide institute at the university. "It's been a unique model from the very beginning, because it's 100 percent funded with private gifts, through the generosity of founding donors Bill and Claudia Coleman."

The free, all-day event features a slate of noted speakers, headlined by economist James K. Galbraith, Ph.D., former director of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. His keynote address is titled, "Cognitive Disability, Inequality and Technology in an Age of Economic Uncertainty." The author of several books, including last year's "The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too," he teaches at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds the school's Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations.

Featured speakers also include Ann Turnbull, Ph.D., and Rud Turnbull, Ph.D., both Distinguished University Professors at the University of Kansas. The Turnbulls are leading international figures in disability law, families, technology and special education.

Roundtable discussions over lunch will enable participants to join in the conversation. Topics range from mobile devices and social networking to the accessibility of museum experiences for people with cognitive disabilities.

CU faculty will participate in conference research and poster sessions, having already submitted statements describing their work in the field. Faculty members also are encouraged to inform students about the event, which provides a rare opportunity for students who have conducted research related to cognitive disabilities to receive feedback.

Also on the presentation agenda: Tamar Heller, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Chicago, talking about new approaches to aging and cognitive disabilities; and Jay Lundell, Ph.D., of Intel Corp.'s Digital Health Group, detailing new models of care using technology. CU President Bruce D. Benson and Rene- Pietrangelo, CEO of the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), are special guests.

This year's Coleman Institute conference features a strong collaboration with ANCOR, a national association representing more than 800 private providers of community living and employment supports and services to more than 500,000 people with disabilities. The event will be a springboard for ANCOR's first Technology Leadership Summit, to be hosted by the Coleman Institute Nov. 6 at the University of Colorado at Boulder Stadium Club.

Registration for the Coleman Institute conference is free for all participants, but limited to the first 300 who register. For more information, including a detailed agenda, see the Coleman Institute's Web site.

About the Coleman Institute

Mission: to catalyze and integrate advances in science, engineering and technology to promote the quality of life and independent living of people with cognitive disabilities.

Main activities:

  • Provide research and development grants and related support to CU faculty and their research partners and promote commercialization of derivative intellectual property
  • Operate the Coleman Institute Fellowship Program for postdoctoral and graduate students and faculty
  • Conduct the Annual Coleman Institute Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology

Engage in public policy advocacy and outreach on matters pertinent to cognitive disability and technology

Since 2001, more than 120 projects have been funded involving more than 50 faculty members at CU and their partners at universities and in corporate settings.