2014 Student memberships are only $52.50!

Last updated: September 14, 2014

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That's right, help your friends take advantage of all of the benefits STC has to offer for the fall semester for less than the cost of a text book.
Students carrying notebooksStudent members receive

  • Membership in one student and one professional chapter
  • Discounts on STC education offerings and our annual Summit
  • Access to over 140 free, on-demand webinars
  • 14-day advance access to the newest employment opportunities available in the STC Job Bank
  • A copy of STC's Salary Database, containing the most up-to-date information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on what technical communicators are earning
  • Online access to industry-leading publications Intercom and Technical Communication
  • Access to the Academic Special Interest Group (SIG) and another SIG of your own selection
  • A member discount program that provides discounts on software, products, and services

Join Now at http://www.stc.org/membership/join-or-renew-now

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Conference Proposal Deadline Extended to 19 September 2014

Last updated: September 13, 2014

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STC Annual Technical Summit logo

STC invites you to contribute your ideas, studies, experience, and expertise at the 2015 Technical Communication Summit, the 62nd Annual Conference of the Society for Technical Communication. The Summit is being held 21-24 June 2015 in Columbus, Ohio, USA.

The Summit fosters industry-leading technical communication by stimulating information exchange, cultivating research, and serving as the primary source of education for professional technical communicators. Program sessions should represent the latest business trends, communication techniques, technologies, approaches, and solutions. Please visit the Call for Proposals information pages to learn more.

Proposals are due

11:59 PM EDT (GMT-4) on Friday, 19 September 2014
All proposals must be submitted through the STC online submission system. The Call for Proposals information site provides the guidelines and process for submitting, and only those proposals that are submitted through this site will be accepted.




Types of Proposals

STC is looking for presentations, workshops, progressions, lightning talks, etc. Because sessions are 45 minutes long, each progression presenter will do two 20-minute presentations (10 minutes of presenting, 10 minutes of discussion). This format worked very well last year, and we are doing it again. We're aiming to group about six topics to a progression.

STC definitely encourages the submission of more advanced topics, whatever the session type. Our surveys show the majority of attendees want to be challenged and move past the “101” or “Intro to” topics, and this makes sense – most of our attendees have 10 or more years of experience in the profession. Make them think.


If you have any questions, please contact the Program Advisory Committee or Conference Committee at email hidden; JavaScript is required for more information.

Good luck and see you in Columbus!

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The Elephant in the Room

Last updated: May 24, 2014

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[Editor's note: Republished with kind permission from the original posting in the April 2014 issue of Memo to Members, the newsletter of the Orlando-Central Florida STC chapter. For more information about Parkinson's, see our list of resources at Parkinson's Disease.]

Photo of Mike Murray
Mike Murray

By Mike Murray, Former 3-Year President of the Orlando Central Florida Chapter of Distinction and STC Associate Fellow

Being a 30-year member of the Orlando Central Florida Chapter of STC, I have grown to love the organization and hate missing meetings. Recently, however, I missed the better part of two years while I was dealing both physically and mentally with the onset of Parkinson's disease or PD [sic].

During my first STC chapter meeting when I finally felt well enough to rejoin life, I noticed a long-time friend and colleague looking at me. Even after my eyes met his and I mouthed "What?" he continued to look and said in a low voice, "Nothing. I'm just looking." That long, knowing, inquisitive stare, coupled with my newly developed ESP, was what it took for me to get the message. And what exactly is the message? Simply that people cannot possibly know what to do or say when there is an "elephant in the room."

The Birth of an Elephant

I was first diagnosed with PD in September of 2008. PD is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects your movement. It develops gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. But while a tremor may be the most well-known sign of PD, the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement. PD affects different people "differently." For me, it made my legs extremely weak, affected my balance, and dramatically changed my voice.

The official diagnosis was very difficult for me to handle. This certainly wasn't what I envisioned for retirement. I was looking forward to lots of travel, fishing, and my passion—sports announcing. But as PD would have it, I had to surrender my driver's license. As if that wasn't enough, I lost my announcing voice. As a fiercely independent person, I became dependent and isolated. My whole world changed overnight.

Advice for Other Elephants

Once you have a name for your illness, you should seek out a professional who specializes in it. It may take a while for your doctor to determine the mix of medications that will do you the most good. At the same time, identify a therapist. It is very important for you to talk about your malady. You have to make it real before you can accept it.

Practice Acceptance

Yes, acceptance is very important. What else can you do? Going the "Why me?" route simply delays your life adjustments. Yes, you can still lead an interesting, fulfilling life. As I said to my son Aaron, "I can't believe this is happening to me." His response was, "Well it is!" His message was clear. Quit wasting time, accept it, and move on. I sure did raise some smart sons.

Practice Thankfulness

Counting your blessings with a sense of pleasure and wholeness is a way to be thankful. People with a strong sense of gratitude, love and appreciation don't necessarily have more than others; they aren't "luckier." They simply recognize and see more beauty in their lives. A 2003 study suggests that people who count their blessings are generally happier and healthier than people who don't. If you ever feel as if anything in your life isn't "enough," try practicing an attitude of thankfulness. You might realize how good you have it after all.

How to Deal with Elephants in the Room

Treat people with disabilities as you would anyone else:

  • Welcome them if they are new in your class or workplace.
  • Never stare at them or act condescending or patronizing.
  • Don't focus on the disability.
  • It is important that you treat them as equals, talk to them as you would to anyone else, and act as you would normally act if a new person entered into your life.

Don't be afraid of asking what disability people are dealing with if you feel this might help you make a situation easier for them (like asking a person with a mobility restriction if he or she would prefer to take the elevator with you instead of the stairs if you see that walking poses a challenge). Chances are, people with disabilities have been asked that question a million times, and they know how to explain their disability in a few sentences. If the disability resulted from an accident or if the information is too personal, they will most likely answer that they prefer not to discuss it.

How to Deal with THIS Elephant

Returning to the long-time friend and colleague who was just looking at me, rather than put him on the spot, I answered him in the form of an open letter to all my dear friends in the STC chapter. Here's what I said:

Dear Friends:

It's time we have a heart-to-heart talk about my Parkinson's disease (PD). At our last chapter meeting, I realized that my failure to do this a long time ago has placed you in an awkward position: how do you deal with "the elephant in the room"?

So here it is, straight from the elephant's mouth.

It has taken me a very long time to accept Parkinson's disease (PD), retirement, aging, leaving behind "Da Voice," surrendering my driver's license, etc. The way things came down on me at nearly the exact same time made things extra tough. I was unable to ease gracefully into retirement, but I am doing much better. IT IS OKAY to make kind comments, ask specific questions, etc. There is no need to avoid the subject. I no longer wish to be "the elephant in the room."

Google will tell you everything you ever thought you wanted to know about PD. For each person, the symptoms vary; for example, I do not have the tremors (thank goodness). The symptoms I do have come and go unexpectedly and vary in intensity. Here is what you can expect:

  • Stiff muscles (rigidity) and aching muscles. Rigidity can also affect the muscles of my legs, face, neck, or other parts of the body and may cause muscles to feel tired and achy.
  • Slow, limited movement (bradykinesia), especially when I try to move from a resting position. For instance, it may be difficult to get out of a chair.
  • Weakness of face and throat muscles. Talking and swallowing may become more difficult. Speech becomes softer and monotonous. Loss of movement in the muscles in my face can cause a fixed, vacant facial expression, often called the "Parkinson's mask." By the way, it is perfectly okay to ask me to repeat myself.
  • Difficulty with walking and balance. Sometimes, I might take small steps and shuffle with my feet close together, bend forward slightly at the waist (stooped posture), and have trouble turning around. I'm trying to remember not to walk that way.
  • Cramps in the muscles and joints.
  • Freezing, a sudden, brief inability to move. It most often affects walking.
  • Fatigue and/or sleepiness may come on very quickly without warning.
  • When anxiety is high, I'm behind on sleep, etc., I can sometimes get a little emotional. If it happens, just keep smiling and talking. I'll snap out of it. Emotional and physical stress tends to make the symptoms more noticeable. Sleep, complete relaxation, and intentional movement or action usually reduce or stop most of the symptoms.

To summarize, I am aware that I look weird, act weird, and talk weird. It's like living in a building and watching it fall apart around me. Well, I'm still in here! Please know that in my brain, I am still a wild and crazy guy! It's fine to talk to me as you always have, and don't give a second thought to anything else.

Does that help? If not, ask me anything you like. I love each and every one of you.

How to Create an Elephant

Simply ignoring people with disabilities because you think they may not want to discuss it may make them feel inadequate. They may think you don't want to deal with them as fellow human beings or that you are trying to avoid being asked for help.

It all boils down to this:

  • If your disability makes you think of yourself as the elephant in the room, you will be that elephant.
  • If you treat someone with a disability like the elephant in the room, he or she will become that elephant.

The simple answer is to just treat everyone as a person, disabilities or abilities aside.

There are no elephants in the room; we create them.

(Author's Note: Special thanks to Dan Voss, one of my very best friends and the best darn editor in the entire universe!)

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Upcoming Conferences Related to Disabilities

Last updated: September 17, 2014

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Scheduled Conferences

Multiple dates, 2014-2015
Abilities Expo
Location: New York Metro May 2-4, 2014;
Chicago June 27-29, 2014;
Houston July 25-27, 2014;
Boston September 5-7, 2014;
Bay Area November 21-23, 2014;
Los Angeles March 6-8, 2015;
Atlanta To Be Decided

Multiple dates, 2014
Gordon Research Conferences
Location: various locations (304 total biological, chemical, and physical scientific meetings)

April 9, 2014
4th National Conference on Employment and Education Law Impacting Persons with Disabilities
Location: Los Angeles, California

April 24-25, 2014
LDW® World Congress and Exposition on Disabilities (WCD)
Location: Southampton Solent University, East Park Terrace, Southhampton, England

April 28 – May 1, 2014
Designing the Future for People with Disabilities
Location: New York, NY

May 1-2, 2014
Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Challenged and Troubled Children
Location: Seattle, Washington

May 6-8, 2014
Canadian Conference on Developmental Disabilities and Autism
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

May 8-11, 2014
Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA): "Spring Conference & Expo"
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL

May 12-14, 2014
John Slatin AccessU
Location: St. Edward's University, Austin, Texas

May 17, 2014
Pacific Rim International Forum on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Location: Honolulu, Hawai’i

May 19-20, 2014
30th Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity
Location: Honolulu, Hawai’i

May 21, 2014
Australian Network on Disability's Conference "Leading the Way 20142014"
Leading the Way is Australia's only conference for employers focusing on the business impacts of disability. It is aimed at all organisations wanting to build confidence and competence around engaging with employees, customers and stakeholders with disability.
Location: Sydney, Australia

May 20-23, 2014
Inclusive Learning Technologies Conference 2014
Location: Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Australia

May 26-27,2014
Thrivology: Thriving Not Just Surviving in Post-Secondary Education
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

June 11-14, 2014
American Physical Therapy Association: "NEXT Conference & Exposition Overview"
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina

June 14, 2014
Ms. Abilities America – A Pageant
Location: Tahlequah, Oklahoma

June 16-19, 2014
Canada International Conference on Education (CICE-2014)
Location: Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

June 17-18, 2014
Co-Occurring Disorders PLUS Conference
Location: Portland, Oregon

June 26-29, 2014
Hearing Loss Association of America Conference
Location: Austin, Texas

July 1-3, 2014
APSE'S 25TH Annual National Conference (Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst)
Location: Long Beach, California

July 1-6, 2014
National Federation of the Blind Convention
Location: Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando, Florida

July 7-11, 2014
14th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs (ICCHP)
Design for Adaptive Content Processing
Location: Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, France

July 11-19, 2014
American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

July 12-15, 2014
The International Summit on Accessibility: "Making it Happen: From Intention to Action"
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

July 14-17, 2014
2016 IASSID Europe Regional Congress "Pathways to Inclusion"
International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities (IASSID)
Location: Vienna, Austria

July 15-16, 2014
Sight Village Birmingham
Location: Birmingham, England

July 19-24, 2014
ISAAC 2014: 16th Biennial Conference International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Location: Lisboa Congress Centre, Lisbon, Portugal

July 21-24, 2014
Uxpa Conference: "Motivation"
Location: London, UK
More information: Conference information

August 11-14, 2014
World Congress on Special Needs Education (WCSNE-2014): "Women's World Conference"
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

August 17-22, 2014
12th International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women: "Women's World Conference"
Location: Hyderabad, India

September 8-26, 2014
Tekom Europe Roadshow
European Association for Technical Communication – tekcom Europe e.V.
Location: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Turkey, Romania, Austria

September 9-11, 2014
9th International Short Break Conference (ISBA): "Inclusion worldwide – supporting people with disabilities and their families"
Location: Wolfenbüttel, Germany

September 16-19 2014
6th International Brain-Computer Interface Conference 2014
Institute for Knowledge Discovery, Laboratory of Brain-Computer Interfaces, Graz University of Technology
Location: Graz, Austria

September 17-19, 2014
International Commission on Occupational Health, Work, Organisation and Psychosocial Factors (ICOH-WOPS)
UnhealthyWork, website of the Center For Social Epidemiology
Location: Adelaide, Australia

September 29 – October 1, 2014
WDPI Conference on Implementing Work Disability Prevention Knowledge
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

September 29 – October 2, 2014
2014 USBLN® 17th Annual National Conference
& Biz2Biz Expo
: "A Sea of Opportunity: Disablity Inclusion For Innovation & Growth"
Location: Orlando, Florida

October 13-16, 2014
Uneven mobilities:
"Access to activities, people and places in contemporary cities"
Location: Santiago de Chile

October 14, 2014
Autism Central
Location: Birmingham, England

October 15-17, 2014
2014 Health and Wellbeing in Children, Youth, and Adults with Developmental Disabilities
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

October 15-17, 2014
Closing The Gap: Assistive Technology Resources for Children and Adults with Special Needs "35th Annual Conference"
Location: Bloomington, Minnesota

October 20-22, 2014
The 16th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility
Location: Rochester, New York

October 22-25, 2014
NW Conference on Professional Development in Disability Services
Location: Portland, Oregon

October 27-31, 2014
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society's Annual Meeting
Location: Chicago, Illinois

November 13-14, 2014
Adaptive Path's Service Experience Conference 2014 "The Conference about Service Design"
Location: San Francisco, California

November 15-19, 2014
Society for Neuroscience Conference: "Neuroscience 2014"
Location: Washington, DC

November 17-19, 2014
International Forum on Disability Management
Location: Melbourne, Australia

November 17-21, 2014
17th Annual Accessing Higher Ground Conference
"Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference"
Location: Westminster, Colorado

November 19-21, 2014
Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

November 20, 2014
Assistive Technology Conference of New England
Location: Crowne Plaza, Warwick, Rhode Island

November 20-22, 2014
Annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention
Location: Orlando, Florida

December 2-5, 2014
National Ergonomics Conference and ErgoExpo
Location: Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada

December 3, 2014
2014 TASH Conference
Location: Washington, DC

January 27-31, 2015
Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2015 Conference
Location: Orlando, Florida

March 2-7, 2015
30th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference
Location: Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, San Diego, California

March 13-22, 2015
South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWI) Festival
Location: Austin, Texas

March 16-19, 2015
18th Annual Applied Ergonomics Conference (AEC)
Location: Nashville, Tennessee

April TBD, 2015
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD) 15th Annual Conference
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

13-16 April 2015
Ergonomics & Human Factors 2015
Location: Daventry, Nottinghamshire, UK

June 3-6, 2015
American Physical Therapy Association: "NEXT Conference & Exposition Overview"
Location: National Harbor, Maryland

June 25-28, 2015
Hearing Loss Association of America Conference
Location: St. Louis, Missouri

September 10-13, 2015
Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe Conference
Location: Budapest Congress Center with Novotel Hotel City, Hungary

October TBD, 2015
Plain Language Conference
Location: to be announced

June 8-11, 2016
American Physical Therapy Association: "NEXT Conference & Exposition Overview"
Location: Nashville, Tennessee

July 13-15, 2016
15th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs (ICCHP)
ICCHP 2016
Location: University of Linz, Austria

August 15-19, 2016
2016 IASSID World Congress
International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities (IASSID)
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Conference Resources

Biological, chemical, and physical scientific meetings: Gordon Research Conferences

Calendar of Events in Disability, Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Upcoming Conferences

Ergonomics & Human Factors Calendar

Events and Conferences compiled by the University of Michigan.

KeyContent.org Calendar Events for the Year where your event submissions are welcome. KeyContent.org is an idea space where you can express your insights about your profession. Think of this site as a white board with a brain. You create and edit articles or portals to other sites and share your insights…

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Conferences and Events

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