Remarkable Tech Summit: Katy’s Experience

Remarkable Tech Summit: Katy's Experience
Posted on Wed 9 Nov 2022

How do I sum up the Remarkable Tech Summit in San Francisco? 

This past week I took over CPARF’s Instagram to share some stories and content in real time to highlight everything that was happening. Maybe you saw some photos or video — but that was just a peek. Now that it’s over and we’re mostly all back in our respective homes, I’d like to share some reflections to illuminate what it was like to be at the summit as a disabled person. 

I’m in the early days of discovering what it means to celebrate disability and openly unite around a cause that’s so personal to me, and  I walked away with more than I could ever hope for

WHAT WAS IT?

The Remarkable Tech Summit gathered innovators, disabled entrepreneurs, speakers, investors, and leaders in the assistive technology space who are all disrupting the status quo in their own way — from moving the needle of understanding around ableism and disability culture by speaking their truths to launching new, radical technologies that will help people with CP and other disabilities take charge of their own futures. 

Many times, I thought to myself, “This is big. We’re all here to talk about shifting the way the world works. To tell our stories, to share our work, to plan for the future. That is not a small task.” 

It also felt like a gathering of friends and allies. At times, there was a level of intimacy and vulnerability in the air that I felt privileged to witness. There was an unspoken agreement that allowed attendees to be exposed in the best way: to share their struggles, to explore challenges, suggest new ways of doing business, and identify solutions together. We held space for everyone to ask for help and when people could assist, they did. 

MY STORY

Throughout the event, I moved between being a passive observer and an active participant. Along with my supporting role as CPARF’s Digital Engagement Manager, I was invited to share my experience with cerebral palsy and assistive technology with all the attendees.

I spoke about how my life has been enhanced by my ExoSym, an assistive device I wear to help manage my pain and support my mobility. I talked about my struggle to find shoes and pants that fit comfortable and stylishly with my device, and I challenged the audience of innovators and leaders in this space with a question: How can you ensure when you send us off into the world with your incredible new invention that we aren’t met with yet another barrier?

My story was met with warmth and gratitude and it was a good reminder that disabled voices are meant to be heard and elevated. It’s easy to forget when the world is often so quick to dismiss and marginalize people with disabilities. At the summit, I felt truly elevated and acknowledged, and I trust that more of this will only continue. Because what also took shape at the summit was a collective understanding that we still have a lot or work to do — but we’re all up for the challenge to set a precedent for more accessible, more affordable, and more inclusive tech not only for, but with disabled people. 

MOVING FORWARD

What became apparent was a collective, sincere desire to move disability technology forward together. There was a certain energy and urgency in the room, even after 10 hours,  that this summit was the start of a movement toward something bigger than we can all imagine right now. A world where disabled people are co-creators, founding partners, and leaders paving the way for the next wave of innovation in tech. We saw it at the summit and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it out in the world around us. 

This event helped me see so clearly just how transformative this time is and it's really exciting to know just how many people are invested in seeing this succeed and changing the paradigm on what disabled people deserve. 

It was such a privilege to be in a big city, surrounded by disabled people and our allies, fully outside of my day-to-day experience — to be exposed to all of the exciting solutions, products, and services that people are already working on. 

I’ll continue to do my part by sharing what I’ve learned in spaces like this one. 


Miss the Disability Dispatch on CPARF’s Instagram late last week? Check out the Tech Summit highlight on @researchforcp to recap what I saw at the summit. 

The Remarkable Tech Summit was hosted by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF) and Cerebral Palsy Alliance. Remarkable is made possible by Cerebral Palsy Alliance and CPARF. 

The 2023 Remarkable Accelerator Program application is now open.To apply or learn more, visit remarkable.org

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