Southeastern Orientation and Mobility Association (SOMA)
SOMA O&M Conference December 10-13, 2022
Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore
2225 N Lois Ave, Tampa, Florida, 33607
After 4 long years apart, we were all SO excited to finally come back together at the same hotel where we enjoyed our last in-person conference!!
Huge thanks to almost 40 presenters, evaluations indicate that the program was outstanding!
Dedicated to Janet Barlow - we did it her way!
Janet Barlow was known for her dedication and willingness to selflessly share information, and that's what SOMA is all about!
Janet loved SOMA, and loved doing hands-on, interactive sessions -- it was she who introduced SOMA's hallmark trend-setting Feet-in-the-Street sessions in 2009.
So this conference honored her by empasizing hands-on, interactive, engaging sessions, as well as featuring a special track of sessions organized in her honor.
We think Janet Barlow would have been proud --
Janet Barlow at SOMA 2018. She is at the table for AER O&M Division's Environmental Access Commmittee, which she chaired for many years and for which she continued to provide leadership and inspiration until her death in 2021.
If you were lucky enough to be a participant in this conference, please send us pictures and stories so we can post them on our History page! (be sure to ask anyone who's in the picture if it's okay to post it on our website -- if not, we can blur or crop them out.)
- On Saturday, folks broke up into teams and partners to practice assessing and facilitating proprioception to improve mobility skills.
- At our general session Sunday, we solved O&M puzzles and clues to find the Mystery Eyebrow Man, learning how we can make O&M lessons fun!
- Sunday and Monday, participants
went to nearby intersections to experience audible beaconing and tactile walking surfaces to help them align and cross straight,
others conducted remote lessons with students in the classroom from out in the hallway, some guided each other along a cliff face (only 7 fell to their death, the others survived!), and some used a new flow chart to compare crossing times and assess risk at a simulated uncontrolled crossing.
- On Tuesday, while traffic engineers guided each other around the hallways blindfolded, O&Ms were in the stairway guiding people while using a cane.
In the Janet Barlow Initiative, groups of O&Ms and traffic engineers collaborated with each other as they explored and assessed complex intersections, then came back to the hotel to share their findings with the group as a whole.
Our next SOMA Conference -
Thank you Karen Walker and Allied Instructional Services!
Our conference is in great hands -- Karen Walker, who co-chaired the 2012 SOMA conference, has stepped up with her organization, Allied Instructional Services, to coordinate our 2024 conference.
They are looking at Virginia.
Karen, thank you -- we know it's going to be fabulous!
Want to be involved in SOMA planning?
We’d love to have YOU on our team! We are planning our next conference,
and continue the SOMA tradition of forward-thinking, hands-on, innovative events!
If interested in being part of a dynamic team, please contact Eileen Bischof -- we look forward to hearing from you!