My three biggest take aways from the South Western Orientation and Mobility Association Conference

WHAT A WEEKEND! This weekend I got to attend the South Western Orientation and Mobility Association conference. It's always wonderful to learn from the best in our field and connect with our fellow O&M specialists. 

This weekend was no different. The conference itself was superb! As with any conference or great professional development experience (let's face it- they aren't always life changing professional development sessions that we end up sitting through), I grew exponentially as a teacher and professional. 

I can't wait to take these ideas back to my students and help them become even more independent. 

Well, I can wait at least one day. There is still laundry to do tomorrow. 

The South Western Orientation and Mobility Association conference had some fantastic speakers this year (cough cough, including me!!). The topics ranged from analyzing intersections, to data collection, autonomous vehicles and gps, to O&M for babies and even (your favorite and mine!)- yoga! 

Out of the entire weekend,

here are my three biggest take aways from the SWOMA conference: 

1. Make sure the hotel you are staying at will be a pleasant experience. You guys know that I am not usually one to complain, but this hotel was THE WORST. We weren't staying in a shabby-brand hotel. The hotel chain has a reputation of being a nice hotel. But it was NOT.

The stay-away experience from this hotel left me feeling drained, unhappy, and very uncomfortable. This is NOT a good combination when are you trying your best to mingle with new people (which is not my jam in the first place), learn new skills, and deal with the normal travel tummy/sleep issues that come anyway. 

2. Due to autonomous vehicles, the duties of our profession are changing in drastic ways in a dramatically fast pace. For a profession that has only been around for less than a century, we are used to fast-paced changes. Not that we all like these changes. 

There are 6 levels of autonomous vehicles. 0 being the 1908 Ford model and prior. Level 1 being the addition of cruise control and antilock brakes. Tesla cars broaching the level 2 phase, and so on. We are expected to see Level 2 cars in the hands of many Americans by 2020. 

Dude, that's in THREE years. Less time than it takes for our high school freshmen to graduate. 

Jetson-style Level 5/6, fully automated "vehicles" (will we even call them "cars" by then?)  are expected to be on the roads by 2035. 

That's about when Roman will graduate. So, all of those ECI babies you are working with now- they will grow up in the age of automated "vehicles". 

The Prince of Dubai has already taken a ride in an autonomous helicopter. 


3. Bike boxes are becoming a bigger player in our street crossing game. 

Image of road with green-painted bike box in front of cars stopped at intersection.

(Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech.)

Wendy Shaffers and Linda Myers gave us some great pointers on how to cross these types of intersections. I will try them out and let you know how it worked for us here in Austin. We have at least one that I know about, but have been kind of hesitant to really dig in to having my students crossing them. 

Are you seeing bike boxes pop up in your city? 

Leave me a comment and let me know!