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I need your help!

sxsw checkinI attend SXSW Interactive every year – it’s a MASSIVE conference in Austin, Texas where tech-minded people gather to have fun and learn from each other. It’s been an awesome experience for me for the last three years… And I’m looking forward to attending again next March. But this year I want to do it a little differently. In years past I’ve focused mainly on learning about tools, devices and concepts for my job as an interactive director at a television station and professor at a journalism school. This time around, I want to share how those skills have brought me closer to the special needs community.

I have pitched a session to hold a “Core Conversation” at the conference about how technology can bring special needs groups together. It’s called “Tech Unity Beyond the #SpecialNeeds Hashtag.” Here’s the pitch:

“Special needs communities unite! This brainstorming session will take a look at how some people have been able to harness the power of online community to bring special needs parents together. We will look at what social tools work and don’t work when parents look for ways to get support for their special needs kids. Talk to a special needs parent and you’ll realize, this community does not come together often enough to share how we make advocating for our children work. This is not a session looking to find funding for our child’s challenges. This is a conversation where anyone with a link to any type of special need can talk about the need for community and advocacy in a culture where abilities of all types should be celebrated.”

I have asked my friend Kate to join in on the conversation along with my new friend Robert Rummel-Hudson. They both have additional perspectives that I think will be really helpful in talking with the participants about solutions for community that is often more online that in real life. If we can think of new ways to bring the special needs communities together, think of the many other ways that can translate in additional communities that rely on others to share information: teaching, design, governing… you name it.

So why do I need your help? It’s kind of tricky to get a session picked for SXSW. 30% of the picking process involves getting people to click a “thumbs up” and leave comments on the panel. I realize SXSW may seem like a strange site for you to join, but I’m looking for help in getting more thumbs up and comments. We really have a chance to start the conversation online way ahead of March… and possibly guide the conversation into the actually face-to-face gathering.

So I need you to sign up and vote for this pitch! Thank you so much for your support. Hopefully this will help the #moreincommon community really grow quickly! Spread the word. Tell your neighbors… Let’s bring the special needs world into the tech community. The two communities should spend more time together!

(As a thank you, make sure you also leave a comment on this post to enter to win a Lucky Fin bracelet!)


  1. Liz Ditz on August 17, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Because I am a SXSW noob, I needed help understanding how to sign up to vote.

    How to vote for this proposal if you aren’t yet a registered SXSW user:
    1. Go to and register for Panel Picker
    2. Wait for email; activate account
    3. Go to
    4. Click on the thumbs up button just below the title.

    You can only vote once; no ballot-box stuffing

    • Jen Lee Reeves on August 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm

      Thank you Liz for sharing!! For some reason our friends at WordPress put you into my spam box so I didn’t see your note. This is really helpful for anyone willing to pitch in and help out!! And thanks again for leaving your comment there on the pitch page!

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