ATU351 – ATIA – a new conference-goer’s perspective


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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Show Notes: ATIA – a new conference-goer’s perspective
Panel: Nikol Prieto, Justin Amber, Tracy Castillo
Nefarious Bitcoin miners have hijacked government websites worldwide
School hooked on personalized learning through fishing lures
App: Veg Out |

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——-transcript follows ——


TRACY CASTILLO:  Hello, my name is Tracy Castillo, and I’m the reuse technician at the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Hi, I’m Nicole Prieto.  Of the community I recorded her for the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads.

JUSTIN AMBER:  I’m just an Amber.  I’m the equipment loan specialist for the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads, and this is your Assistive Technology Update.

WADE WINGLER:  Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs. Welcome to episode number 351 of assistive technology update.  It’s scheduled to be released on February 16, 2018.

Today we are going to have a fun conversation.  My friends and coworkers, Nicole Prieto, Justin Amber, and Tracy Castillo, just got back from the ATIA Assistive Technology Industry Association conference in Orlando, and for a couple of them it was their first time.  We are going to talk to them about what it was like as a first time newbie to go to the ATIA show.

Also there is a story about some hackers who have used some assistive technology to do bitcoin mining? Come on, guys.  And a story about something that I find fun which is pretty printed fishing lures and how that’s being used in a special education setting.

We hope will check out our website at, sent us a note on Twitter at and it a project, or call our listener line. We love to hear your questions, comments.  You might even hear your voice on this or one of our other shows.  Give us a call at 317-721-7124.


I’m filing this under the category of “You might be a jerk if….” You have probably heard of crypto currencies, things like bitcoin.  There is one called Monero, and actually a bunch of hackers packed into Text Help’s Browse Aloud browser plug-in, which is an assistive application that helps make sites more accessible for folks were blind or visually impaired, dyslexia, those kinds of things.  They use browse aloud to turn computers into bitcoin mining computers, commonly known as a coin hiving software.  The great news is the folks over at text help and security officer Brian McKay said it’s fixed.  They immediately removed browse aloud from their customer sites and fix it without the customers having to do anything.  Come on, you hackers.  That is just wrong.  If you want to read more about this nefarious bitcoin assistive technology hack, I got a link in our show notes over at tech radar. You can learn more.  Join me in saying shame on you guys.  Check our show notes.


A lot of you may not know this, but one of my passions in life is fishing.  Yes, I’ve entered that middle-age stage of life where I look forward a lot to nice days and cold waters.  When this headline said, “School hooked on personalized learning through fishing lures,” you know that I had to at least check it out.  There is a group of educators in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, who are working with some high school students who had a 3-D printer.  There was a student who is particularly chatty in class, and that got him behind academically and was having some trouble in school.  One of the educators got him to making 3-D fishing lures right there in class.  That took off and became something that was a catalyst for stimulating conversation about different kinds of fishing species, reading essays, actually going on fishing trips, learning about the history of the Great Lakes, calculate boat speeds, and then they made and painted fishing lures with their own logo and even had a business work with them on a fish fry.

Fast-forward and you have a program called hooked on learning that’s actually working with several high school students to use 3-D printers to make custom fishing lures.  The reason I’m excited about this as I think this is a great example of principles of personalized learning and universal design for learning.  The whole goal behind that is that you work with students in multiple means of expressing how they are learning different things, like the way they take tests that show they are learning; multiple ways of representing information, so going fishing as a way to talk about lakes in a very hands-on kind of way; and in multiple means of engagement which are all about getting the student attention in a way that works well for them.

If you are not a UDL junkie like I am but you do like fishing or think this is cool, I’m going to pop a link in the show notes over to the article where you can learn more about what the school is doing with personalized fishing lures and also it’s a great hands-on way to learn about personalized learning and universal design for learning.  Check out that fun story in our show notes.


Each week, one of our partners tells us what’s happening in the ever-changing world of apps, so here’s an app worth mentioning.

AMY BARRY:  This is Amy Barry with BridgingApps, and this is an app worth mentioning.  This week’s featured app is called Veg Out.  Creative use of technology can have a hand in encouraging and supporting vegetable consumption.  Yes, vegetable consumption.  One such example is the Veg Out app from the nonprofit organization recipe for success.  It is not just any tracker app.  It’s an all out interactive challenge that puts discovery of new food and the nutrition concept of variety into a fun, digital format.  We know this: one of the most effective route for dietary behavior change is through positive experiences and interactions with a desired food.

During nutrition education opportunities, taking the culinary angle surpasses the new trend fact dialogue in both excitement level, motivation, and fun.  The app takes the culinary approach to increase vegetable intake with a simple challenge.  Every month, 30 days, each 30 different vegetables.  Use the app to law that the vegetables consumed and seek information and recipes about vegetables that may have never been on one’s radar. Yes, eat carrots, tomatoes, corn, but expand past of those to try parsnips, black beans, zucchini, and more.  Start a group challenge with your family, your workplace, or in the classroom, to really make it fun and impeccable experience. Find fun new recipes and share yours with the community.

BridgingApps registered dietitian loved using Veg Out as an experienced during a hands-on cooking class program called project High Five, designed for children with special needs.  The kids had fun at the end of class recalling and counting all of the different vegetables they interacted with while making the two class recipes.  It’s all about eating more with no restrictive tone needed when it comes to encouraging a plan to base a diet rich in vegetables.

The Veg Out as if ever of BridgingApps.  It’s great for all ages and abilities, but we see its potential with impact for persons in the special needs community. Veg Out is available for free at the iTunes and Google Play stores and is compatible with iOS and Android devices.  For more information on this app and others like it, visit


WADE WINGLER:  Today is going to be a fun interview.  I am joined in studio with some of my friends and coworkers.  They just spent an interesting trip away from central Indiana going to the assistive technology industry Association, commonly known as ATIA conference, in sunny Orlando.  I did not go.  I am jealous, so I got them here in the studio to tease them — or maybe they are going to tease me about the great time that they had.

Most of these folks have either been for the first time or a couple of times, and we wanted to focus our interview today on what it was like for a first-time attendee to go to ATIA and have the experience.  We are going to start by learning a little bit about each of our guests.  We are going to ask some questions about what it was like to go to ATIA for the first time, because I think there is some fascinating stuff to get to.

Enough my rambling.  Let’s do some introductions.  First we have Nicole Prieto, who is our community outreach coordinator.  You might know her from our holiday shows or any opportunity we get a chance to drag her into the studio and talk to us.  Nicole, hey.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Hi there.  How are you?

WADE WINGLER:  Not too bad.  I’m going to come back to you.

I want to introduce Justin Amber who helps take care of our equipment library.  Justin, hi.


WADE WINGLER:  How are you?

JUSTIN AMBER:  Fantastic.

WADE WINGLER:  Fantastic? Wow. That’s better than I’m doing.  I’m just barely getting by today.  Hiding in the corner is Tracy Castillo who works in what we call the INDATA depot.  She is all about computer reuse and working with our staff and volunteers to take old equipment and fix it up and make a new again.  Tracy, hey.

TRACY CASTILLO:  Hey.  How are you?

WADE WINGLER:  I think I’m going to be okay.  We are going to get through this interview, right?

TRACY CASTILLO:  I hope so.  I really do.

WADE WINGLER:  It’s going to be just fine.  I’m going to start with you Tracy.  Tell everybody a little bit about what your title is here and what you do day by day.

TRACY CASTILLO:  For one, have the best job in the world.  I am the reuse technician with the INDATA Project.  I take in donated equipment and I refurbish those and give those away.

WADE WINGLER:  And you work with volunteers to do that, right?

TRACY CASTILLO:  Yes.  Volunteers.  I occasionally get an intern so that’s always great.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent.  Justin, tell everybody about you and your job.

JUSTIN AMBER:  I am the equal below specialist for the INDATA Project here at Easter Seals crossroads.  Basically that means that I manage our loan library and go around traveling the state to do demonstrations on the equipment as well.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent.  Nicole, I know it’s a wide and varied things you do here and it changes all the time, but tell everybody a little bit about your job.

NIKOL PRIETO:  It does change all the time.  I am the community outreach coordinator of the INDATA Project.  We have two goals of our program: getting assistive technology into the hands of folks and also getting information out to folks about assistive technology.  That’s the big piece of my job, is getting information out from our social media to putting on the trainings, entering information and referral calls, everything around getting information out to the public about assistive technology.

WADE WINGLER:  Get the word out.  That’s what it’s all about.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Absolutely.

WADE WINGLER:  Nicole and Tracy, this was your first time to go to ATIA. Is that right?

TRACY CASTILLO:  Yes, it was.  Thank you so much for that.


WADE WINGLER:  It was good?


WADE WINGLER:  Justin, you’ve been once before, but it’s been a few years right? It’s been a couple years?

JUSTIN AMBER:  It’s been about three years.

WADE WINGLER:  So this was your second trip?

JUSTIN AMBER:  Excellent.  For people who aren’t familiar with the ATIA conference, I like to do the who, what, when, where, how, why kind of questions.  ATIA is what?

NIKOL PRIETO:  At the gathering of assistive technology professionals.  You have vendors, Assistive Technology Acts — there are 56 Acts in the United States like ours.  So those groups of folks get together.  Clinical assistive technicians, speech therapists, occupational therapist, anybody in the industry who is interested in learning more about assistive technology.

WADE WINGLER:  Tracy, when was it?

TRACY CASTILLO:  It was January 31 to February 3.

WADE WINGLER:  2018. And we are just recording a week or so after that.  We want to catch you guys about things are still fresh in your mind so that you might be able to share your experience.  Justin, where is this thing?

JUSTIN AMBER:  It’s in Orlando, Florida.

WADE WINGLER:  It’s at a resort, right?

JUSTIN AMBER:  I don’t know how to pronounce it.

WADE WINGLER:  Is it Caribe Royale? That’s where it has been for a long time.


WADE WINGLER:  I remember from when I used to get to go back in the day.  How was the weather?

TRACY CASTILLO:  Can I make that my new hometown?

WADE WINGLER:  You can, but that changes things, Tracy.  It’s going to be a heck of a commute to get to Indianapolis on a daily basis.

NIKOL PRIETO:  It was pleasant.  I could always use it warmer, but it was in the seventies.  Until the last day when it was overcast and cool, we a pleasant, sunny weather.

WADE WINGLER:  Here in Indianapolis, it was four degrees or negative degrees.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I looked every morning and snickered.

WADE WINGLER:  I’m sure that was you.  I could hear you from here.  Have any of you been to any kind of AT conference before? Justin, I know you’ve been to ATIA, but have the others of you been to an AT conference? If so, what was it?

NIKOL PRIETO:  I can’t think of a full-blown conference.  I do a lot of transition fairs, and we put on our own trainings, but none come to mind of a full-blown assistive technology conference.  That was my first one.

JUSTIN AMBER:  I’m in the same boat as Nicole.

WADE WINGLER:  ATIA was your previous conference experience?

JUSTIN AMBER:  I think so.

WADE WINGLER:  New for you?

TRACY CASTILLO:  That was a new experience.  I’ve been to some fairs, some technology fairs, but nothing to that extent.

WADE WINGLER:  Tracy, what did you expect when you heard I’m going to ATIA and got the news that you would be going.  What was going to your mind? What did you think is going to be like?

TRACY CASTILLO:  I was thinking a small conference hall, a few people to say hey and say what they did.  I did not expect it to be people from all over the world to be there.  That was amazing.  I found people from different states, people that do what I do but do it a little bit differently.  I learned that every state does something like what we do but differently.  Just to see how they handle those different situations.

WADE WINGLER:  You are talking about the AT act products that do thing like equipment reuse and lending libraries and training and those kinds of things?


WADE WINGLER:  Finding other programs, kindred spirits that do the same stuff is nice?

TRACY CASTILLO:  Oh yeah.  We do computers here, other places do the DME’s. When they were talking about their reuse program, and they asked me about mine, I do not know that they didn’t do the computers like we do.  That was touching is something.  You don’t know what I’m talking about? Oh, okay.

WADE WINGLER:  There is some variation in the ideas that they meet the need in the state.  Justin can’t go to skip you on this one because I know you’ve been before.  Nicole, what were you expecting before you went?

NIKOL PRIETO:  I guess the grand scale of it was surprising, particularly the ballroom with the vendors.  I don’t know what you guys would guess, maybe 500 booths.  That might be an exaggeration, but you walked into a huge ballroom the size of Indianapolis convention center.

TRACY CASTILLO:  I really thought we could get through the vendors and one day in my mind before or there.  My legs can to make it.

WADE WINGLER:  Did it meet your expectations, or am I hearing it exceeded your expectations? Talking about that.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I think it exceeded it.  I think sometimes there were so many sessions that you weren’t even sure exactly where to go because there were so many concurrent sessions.  I think now that we have had the experience, you would know how to navigate that a little better.  The walking distance between them and planning it out.  They did have a really nice app.  I really loved using the app.  It would break it down by strand, and that was easiest for me to do.  You could pick the strand that was best for you, and I thought I was a nice we can navigate.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent.  Okay, you are in Florida, it’s sunny, beautiful.  You are at a conference.  You want to use your day wisely because somebody paid for it.  What was the day in the life for the conference? What kinds of things to do throughout the day? I assume you got up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across your head, those kinds of things.  What was a day in the life like?

NIKOL PRIETO:  I showered and put makeup on.  I knew I was going to meet counterparts and I wanted to represent Indiana well.  Our session started at eight, and you would pick whatever sessions you wanted to go to.  Like I mentioned, it seemed like hundreds of sessions to choose from.  I chose the AT strand, assistive technology acts for all of them partnered in one segment and just talked about how different programs were handling different things.  We talked about how to promote our program and how people were handling different issues.  You would pick your sessions.  I spent a good amount of time in the vendor Hall.  We do weekly tech tips here, and I wanted to grab some of those vendors and get a tech tip with them.

WADE WINGLER:  Those are our YouTube videos.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Our YouTube videos. I brought those back.  We got about 20 or so of those so we will be posting those every Monday.

WADE WINGLER:  So if people go to in a week or so, they will start seeing those YouTube videos rollout on Mondays. Isn’t that right?

NIKOL PRIETO:  Every Monday.

WADE WINGLER:  What about Justin and Tracy? What was a day in the life like for you guys?

JUSTIN AMBER:  I probably spent most of my time in the vendor Hall simply because they work in our loan library here, so it was really important for me to get a lot of information on the new equipment that is available and try to make those connections and see if there are any updates to current increment that we could be taking advantage of.

WADE WINGLER:  It’s your job to make sure that there is stuff in library and it is the new stuff and that people want to borrow.  That’s a great opportunity for you to do that.

JUSTIN AMBER:  I still attended sessions.  Like Nicole was saying, the app was really helpful for planning those sessions out.  I was pretty careful to pick which sessions I attended.  That was something that was a little different this year than the last time I attended.  They didn’t have that AT strand. The last time, I solely focused my attention on the vendor Hall, but I was able to pick some sessions this time and meet some people around the states that do the same program and do a little bit more networking.

WADE WINGLER:  Awesome.  Tracy, were you at the pool all day? How was it?

TRACY CASTILLO:  Not quite.  Before we went, I had loaded the app up on my phone with the different strands and sessions I wanted to go to.  First thing I would do was find the strongest cup of coffee, tighten up my tennis shoes, and then I would choose which session I want to go to.  On the second day, I helped Nicole in the vendor Hall.  With all those people walking around, she was having a hard time.

NIKOL PRIETO:  She was a fantastic assistant.

WADE WINGLER:  You were like her bodyguard?

NIKOL PRIETO:  Honestly, you have to get a distance away from folks.  People are crammed in there.  There was never a downtime in the vendor Hall, so I had a tripod and camera and get in the hallway, and she would grab people and take their name.

TRACY CASTILLO:  It was one person.

WADE WINGLER:  Throw them down.  She was wrestling them.

NIKOL PRIETO:  She would get peoples attention to get the next tech tip and write down who they were and equipment, and I could set up the equipment, and we could get people mic’d, and then make sure that people weren’t walking in front of the camera.  When I had Tracy with me, it went much smoother.

TRACY CASTILLO:  I will try to get the vendors to smile a little bit and loosen up a little bit.

NIKOL PRIETO:  Think about when someone is trying to get a picture of a baby, and you are standing behind making faces.

TRACY CASTILLO:  I had a squeaky toy.

WADE WINGLER:  Tracy is the producer.

NIKOL PRIETO:  It was really helpful.

WADE WINGLER:  Justin, you give a talk, right? You give a presentation, part of the panel?


WADE WINGLER:  Tell me a little bit about that.

JUSTIN AMBER:  It was on device demonstration commonalities.  Right now the national assistive technology act —

WADE WINGLER:  ATAP, the group that rallies up the AT act projects.

JUSTIN AMBER:  They were brainstorming ways to make sure that the people in positions of similar to mine all around have a similar set of standards and commonalities in their position.  If they don’t have those commonalities, some kind of blueprint as a way to develop those.

WADE WINGLER:  You were part of a panel and talked about that.  How was it giving a talk at a national conference? That was pretty cool, right?

JUSTIN AMBER:  I was super nervous.

WADE WINGLER:  You were?

NIKOL PRIETO:  You did great.

JUSTIN AMBER:  I think it went well.

WADE WINGLER:  Awesome.  As you guys think about the week, first question, would you go back if you had the opportunity? Was it worth your time to be down there?

NIKOL PRIETO:  I absolutely would.  I think I’ll go back and do it differently and ship it differently.  I think I would spend more time with vendors and maybe plan ahead to find some quiet spaces to do our tech tips and see how I could arrange that better.  I think I’m breaking back a bunch of useful information.  We have a lot of good contacts.  Absolutely.

WADE WINGLER:  That’s good because that was my next question.  Would you go back, and would you do anything differently? Justin, those same two questions for you. Would you go back? And would you do something differently?

JUSTIN AMBER:  I think if I went back, I would probably network a little bit more.  I had some very meaningful conversation with people in the AT Acts around the world. I would do a little bit more of that.

WADE WINGLER:  Tracy? Would you go back?

TRACY CASTILLO:  If you allow me to, I will go back.

WADE WINGLER:  You have to talk to Brian Norton.  He’s the boss. He makes those decisions.

TRACY CASTILLO:  Please, Brian.

WADE WINGLER:  Don’t worry.  He doesn’t listen to the show.  He doesn’t listen to his own show.

NIKOL PRIETO:  He’s too busy.

TRACY CASTILLO:  I would bring a voice recorder.  I found that one I was in the sessions, there was a lot of great information coming to me, and I was writing things down as fast as I could on scraps of paper.  I’ve been going through my back that they give you, and I’ve been finding those notes and reminded of the good stuff I learned.  I would go back and record it just a little bit more so I could take home more information.

WADE WINGLER:  Good.  Was there anything get that was disappointing about the conference, or do you have any advice for the organizers that you would say, hey, if you guys would’ve done this, it might have made things a little bit better in some way? Nicole had to look on her face.  She’s going to let us have it.  I see your mom eyes.

TRACY CASTILLO:  I know what she is going to say.


TRACY CASTILLO:  There it is.

NIKOL PRIETO:  They would put it out at 8 o’clock, and that was it.  It was gone.  You could find water.  You would have to walk a mile to get and pay for coffee and pay for an expensive bottle of water at a resort.  To me, that’s the added touch.  You go to a lot of conferences, sometimes they will feed you, and I know that’s above and beyond.  That’s fine.  But the coffee and water to me was the typical stuff.  Room temperature was blazing hot in my sessions.  Just those odds and ends that I think could make that personal touch.

WADE WINGLER:  It’s the creature comforts, right?

NIKOL PRIETO:  Absolutely.

JUSTIN AMBER:  I would’ve liked to see more vendors.  I noticed that there were a lot less this time from the previous time.


JUSTIN AMBER:  I’m sure that changes from year to year just because of the type of equipment.  Maybe there weren’t as many new things out this year.  It was definitely smaller, I could tell.

WADE WINGLER:  So vendor hall was down a little bit?

TRACY CASTILLO:  I don’t think I have any critical marks on this one.

WADE WINGLER:  Okay, good.  What advice would you give? Let’s say we hired a new AT staff member, and they were going to go next year, and they came to you and said, what should I do about this ATIA experience? What advice would you give a new professional for the first time attending?

NIKOL PRIETO:  I think the app, number one. I think that was the best resource. It was very user-friendly.  I think the app would be my first.  And spend more time in the vendor hall.  I know there is no downtime, so actually schedule and plan for the time that you were going to be in there.  Don’t say that for the third day.  It is going to take you more than one day to get through it.

JUSTIN AMBER:  I would agree with that.  Planning ahead and looking at the app and looking at which sessions you want to attend.  If you don’t do that before you go, it’s going to be really difficult to choose that.

WADE WINGLER:  Kind of a whirlwind?

JUSTIN AMBER:  Yeah.  There are hundreds of sessions, it seems like, to choose from.

TRACY CASTILLO:  I agree with the app.  Also Twitter, they were using #ATIA18. Lot of information was coming to run Twitter as well.  If there was a section that you weren’t in but were interested in, you could probably find that while you were in your other session.

WADE WINGLER:  Excellent.  Last question for our interview today.  One word to describe your experience overall, just pick one word.



TRACY CASTILLIO:  That’s two words.

JUSTIN AMBER:  I want to say overwhelming, but that’s a good thing.

WADE WINGLER:  Good overwhelming?

JUSTIN AMBER:  Yeah, a good overwhelming.

NIKOL PRIETO:  I would say inspirational.  I think that’s always how I feel about assistive technologies.  Seeing all the new technologies and new ideas is inspirational, and seeing what other people do with their projects.  And to pat ourselves on the back to see how well we are doing in comparison.

WADE WINGLER:  Before we wrap up here, if people wanted to learn more about you guys as people on the panel or about the services you provide, our website is Or if people go to, they can see your smiling faces and read a little bit about you.  But if they want to get to the work you do, if they want to hear about equipment re-utilization or equipment a lending library or our blog and social media, where would they go on the website to learn about your work? Nicole?

NIKOL PRIETO:  You go to and look under all of our services.  I would direct people to contact me if they have any questions about our services and program.

WADE WINGLER:  Justin, library stuff, or would they find that?

JUSTIN AMBER:  A link to the loan libraries also on

WADE WINGLER:  I think if you go to, I’m pretty sure it takes you there too.



TRACY CASTILLO:  You would look under device or use.  We are part of the depot.

WADE WINGLER: will get you there. D-E-P-O-T, spell it like that. I appreciate you coming in and spending time with us. It’s my thought that there is somebody out there in the audience who says, man, I didn’t get to go to ATIA and you might give him a glimpse.  Or they might say I need to learn more about assistive technology, and although these podcast from INDATA are great, I need a place to go to a conference.  You might’ve inspired them to do that.  Thank you so much for being with us today.

WADE WINGLER:  Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.

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