13-Year-Old Author and Lobbyist Among Presenters at Future of Education Technology Conference

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Paloma Rambana, an eighth grader from Tallahassee, Fla. who is legally blind, will be among the presenters at the 2019 Future of Education Technology Conference.

Paloma Rambana

I’m a strong believer in using technology to spark learning and creativity, and I hope my story will inspire kids to use technology as a tool to share their own stories.

The upcoming Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando, Fla. will feature education experts from around the country, but some may be surprised to learn that one of those experts is a student. Thirteen-year-old Paloma Rambana, an eighth grader from Tallahassee, Fla. who is legally blind, will be among the presenters at the conference on Monday, Jan. 28.

In a poster presentation, she will discuss how teachers and parents can encourage students – especially those with unique experiences – to share their stories using assistive technology to foster empathy, self-awareness and critical thinking. Paloma recently authored a memoir with the help of assistive technology including electronic and glass magnifiers, an iPad and video conferencing software.

“I’m a strong believer in using technology to spark learning and creativity, and I hope my story will inspire kids to use technology as a tool to share their own stories,” said Paloma.

Born with a rare eye condition called Peters Anomaly, which causes low vision, Paloma became the “Little Lobbyist” who made a big difference. Paloma’s book, “Paloma’s Dream: The True Story of One Girl’s Mission to Help Kids, Inspire Activism and Survive Middle School” details how she successfully lobbied the Florida Legislature to help secure $1.25 million in funding for blind and visually impaired kids.

In 2015, Paloma launched an advocacy campaign called “Fund the Gap” after realizing that blind and visually impaired kids between the ages of six and 13 don’t receive state aid for equipment or mobility training outside of school (such as magnifiers or lessons in Braille), regardless of financial need. As part of this campaign, Paloma has met with dozens of state lawmakers, Florida's governor and congressional leaders; led two marches on Florida’s Capitol; and has spoken publicly to groups across the U.S. She was recently featured in the New York Times list of “20 Kids Who Make the World a Better Place” and was named a 2018 Health Hero by O, The Oprah Magazine.

FETC is an annual conference that has gathered the most dynamic and creative education professionals from around the world for an intensive, highly collaborative exploration of new technologies, best practices and pressing issues. The 2019 conference will be held Jan. 27-30 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

Those interested in meeting Paloma at FETC can attend her poster presentation on Monday, Jan. 28, from 5-6 p.m. at Booth 3103 in the Exhibit Hall.

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Holly Brooks
RB Oppenheim Associates
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