AT Story from Pre-Conference Speaker Kirk Behnke

Explain briefly your career path leading you to where you are today.

I have a niece and a nephew with disabilities, my mother was a pre-school teacher who had an affinity towards the marginalized kids and my father was an engineer and worked for general motors. I believe I was born to be an assistive technology specialist – it’s in my blood. I worked for United Cerebral Palsy of NJ in the Rehabilitation Engineering Department as an Assistive Technology Specialist fabricating, modifying and recommending AT throughout New Jersey. I then worked for the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, then created and delivered the “Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP)” for California State Univeristy, Northridge (CSUN). I have worked for REgion 4 Education Service Center and was the Lead for the Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN). Most recently I have worked for CAST in UDL, AEM and AT. I am currently President of Behnke Consulting, LLC. and work independently providing technical assistance and professional development in the US, Middle East and Asia.

What is one of the most defining moments in your career in AT?

Defining moment had to be early in my career when I adapted a ride on toy for a kid with cerebral palsy. 30 years later, I just reconnected with him and he is a graduate of Rutgers University, a sports writer and coach for basketball and baseball. One other moment would be the development of the “Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) for CSUN, where I lead a fabulous training team for over 2,500 participants in a matter of 9 years.

What do you find most fulfilling about your career in AT?

I love the camaraderie and sharing of ideas, innovative and creative solutions to support independence and success for marginalized individuals.

How will your pre-conference seminar help others make an impact?

My hope is that participants will be inspired and energized by the information/resources, discussions and stories that will be shared by the presenters and participants. We will also give guidance on exhibits and sessions that will be highlighted to support ideas shared during the AT Bootcamp.

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