Jason Beal

Jason Beal is a visually impaired trainer with over 10 years’ experience training clients on a wide range of equipment and software from screen readers to text-to-speech.

“The team at ATIA did a fantastic job of moving the entire conference to an online platform … with a combination of live presentations and Q&A’s, recorded demos/presentations and space for exhibitors to showcase their products”.

ATIA 2021

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend my very first ATIA conference this year. The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) is an organization for manufacturers, suppliers and providers of Assistive Technology. The organisation hosts a conference every January, which usually takes place in Orlando, Florida. It is a unique opportunity for networking and learning about new and emerging technologies in the Assistive Technology field.

This year of course was rather different, with the restriction on travel. The team at ATIA did a fantastic job of moving the entire conference to an online platform which could all be accessed from the comfort of my bedroom! The hosts did a fantastic job of organising the event with a combination of live presentations and Q&A’s, recorded demos/presentations and space for exhibitors to showcase their products through virtual drop-in sessions.

Although this style of conference is very different it certainly brought many benefits to the experience, especially the amount of content that attendees had access too – and continue to have access to after the conference! All of the content was recorded and is available until June, which means that I can attend many more presentations than I would have been able to in person. The online chat which took place during the presentations were also really valuable and allowed a great space for the sharing of ideas and resources. It was really easy to save this dialogue and follow up with the resources afterwards.


I’ve pulled together some of the highlights of the conference for me, which I will take with me into my work. I work as an access to work trainer and assessor for clients with sight loss and dyslexia.

• mobility aids with companion

I attended the workshop about planning a route as a visually impaired person myself, I was wondering if there was any other tips I could use.

As I know Orientation and mobility are two essential skills for any person to be independent. The development of these skills is critical for the visually impaired.

community. Orientation is the knowledge of where you are in a particular space, whereas Mobility is the method by which you travel.

What if technology could help with this? What if Technology work as a compliment to the traditional O&M methods?

Esight is a wearable device that has the following features

Adjustable pupillary and screen distance ensures the perfect view

Incorporates natural peripheral vision for 100% mobility retention

easy-swap rechargeable batteries: each with up to 3 hours

Coaching vs Training

me because my role as an at trainer involves a lot of training. It was helpful to reflect and consider when it’s appropriate to take on more of a teaching role and when coaching can be introduced.


I learned about a few new products which I hope to get some hands-on experience of in the near future:

HumanWare Victor reader Trek

• Navigate the world around you and that latest best seller with one consistent physical experience!
• Take a long bus ride and read books or listen to podcasts
With the press of that one button, Trek will tell you:
• Your current nearest address
• Cardinal direction you are traveling
• Description of the next intersection
• Next instructions if you are following a route
• Simply drop a voice tagged landmark and you can receive turn by turn directions to that exact point
• Virtually navigate any area in the world maps to prepare for a trip or just for fun
• Use Trek’s familiar telephone keypad to quickly type an address
• Simply press the toggle button to get back in your book or podcast exactly where you left off

eSight4 wearable device with two cameras

the ability to change the contrast of live view to suit the persons needs for example high contrast for reading printed materials. The ability to OCR text in real time. The ability to get assistance when walking out and about from a friend or trained assistant.


• The impact for clients users: I can recommend these products and have a excellent understanding of how they can improve the clients work life or study at University.
• Creating resources: I have created a template for these products and there justification in assessments.


I really enjoyed the opportunity to take some time out to expand my knowledge of AT. The event had a great sense of community, even with the challenges of being online. I found it particularly reassuring and insightful to hear how other professionals in the field have adapted their services over the last year to continue to deliver and support people and families using AAC through remote working.

I’d like to thank the British AT Scholarship for providing me with the opportunity to attend this event and paying for it.