Just as we grow and develop as people over a period of time, OCALICON has grown and developed – not just as a conference, but as a community – over a period of time. We've changed. We've adapted. We've expanded. This continued evolution results in an annual event at the forefront of the field of autism and disabilities. We're proud of our past and equally proud of the collaborators we've linked up with along the way. We share here but a few of our highlights along the timeline of OCALICON's history.
- OCALI partners with the Autism Society of America and others to host the Network of Autism Training and Technical Assistance Programs (NATTAP) Conference at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
- The State Team Forum, which later evolves into the National Autism Leadership Summit (NALS) and is still held each year, is hosted in conjunction with the conference, bringing together state leaders to brainstorm and discuss policy and practice.
- Inaugural attendance is over 1,400 people from 46 states and 13 countries.
- Temple Grandin is a keynote speaker, her first of two appearances (2008, 2020).
- The first University Summit is held, designed to address common issues universities face when preparing highly qualified educational professionals in the area of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
- OCALI expands the focus of NATTAP to include assistive technology and low-incidence disabilities, and is now known as the "OCALI Conference and Exhibition."
- The first District Team Forum is held, designed to increase and sustain implementation of evidence-based practices across Ohio school districts for students with autism and low-incidence disabilities.
- OCALICON welcomes VSA Ohio’s (now Art Possible Ohio) Accessible Expressions Ohio Exhibit & Tour as the exclusive participant in the "Gallery by OCALI," a partner who would become a conference mainstay.
- OCALI launches its iconic "black circles" brand
- OCALI introduces its new centers, "...specifically designed to channel your interests and passions and connect you to world-class tools, resources, and information."
- The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Summit convenes a community forum focused on current research, new technology, practical applications, and resources at state and national levels.
- The conference name is shortened to "OCALICON."
- The Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Summit includes a series of presentations and panel discussions that explore the current state of educational research in TBI and how to translate the research into practice.
- The inaugural OCALI Awards are presented, showcasing professionals making a major impact in the field of autism and disabilities.
- Hasbro, Inc. announces and launches "Toy Box Tools," their accessible line of toys, from the main stage.
- The Autism Certification Center is unveiled, providing learners with an unparalleled tool for people to learn practical strategies to develop social-communication and academic skills, positive behaviors, and independence.
- As a recipient of the federal Braille Excellence for Students and Teachers (BEST) Grant, OCALI hosts the Braille Assistive Technology (AT) Forum at OCALICON for the first time.
- OCALI joins forces with the Ohio Department of Education's Office for Exceptional Children to merge the Special Education Leadership Institute with OCALICON, resulting in the largest single-year increase in participants.
- Attendance surpasses 2,000 people, setting a conference record.
- Laurie VanderPloeg, U.S. Department of Education Director for the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), joins OCALICON for the National Autism Leadership Summit.
- The Special Education Leadership Institute modifies its name to Inclusive Education Leadership Institute to reflect the goal of bringing together both general and special education.
- As a strategic partnership between OCALI and the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, the virtual reality project "Did You Notice?" is announced, and a prototype is available for demonstration.
- The total number of presenters surpasses 475, and attendance surpasses 3,000 people, setting conference records.
- OCALICON moves exclusively online, adopting the name OCALICONLINE.
- For the first time ever, registration was free for a limited time. Over 15,000 people from 50 countries and all 50 states registered to participate, a new record for the event.
- The conference set additional personal records, hosting over 525 presenters and 330+ sessions.