The first Pittsburgh Employment Conference (PEC) was in 1992 and was organized by Support Helps Others Use Technology (SHOUT). The purpose of the conference was to raise awareness of the extremely high unemployment rate of people who rely on AAC. Although the initial focus of the annual conference was employment other topics such as sexuality, depression, and growing older were also addressed. The conference also gave people who rely on AAC the opportunity to socialize with each other and form lasting friendships. Unfortunately, due to funding issues there hasn’t been a PEC since 2011.
Most people use software such as Go-To-Meeting or Skype as a way of collaborating and sharing ideas with one another across the country. This concept has been applied to conferences where the presenter has videos of their speeches and the conference participants can tune in and watch. Then the conference organizers setup scheduled live chats with the presenters to answer questions and interact with participants. I think this idea can be applied to revive PEC because it is cost efficient but it still enables interaction.
I would like to start discussion about having a similar conference via the internet. Please share your suggestions and comments following this blog or on Facebook. I would love to hear from users, family members, and professionals on this important subject.