Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Inclusiv-IT-y 2009

I attended this event yesterday, and here are some comments from my notes (I've not written up all my notes here, only those which are directly relevant to my research and work interests).

David Banes of abilityNet gave a talk on the history of assistive technology, and the big message from this talk is that there is a convergence of the various technologies being used to support disabled users (e.g. screen readers, speech synthesis etc) and that there is a clear move toward ubiquitous and pervasive computing on mobile devices (phones, PDA's, netbooks). This transformation into the mainstream of various technologies (they can be used by abled bodied users as well), is really helping. He talked about Universal Design, the first time I've come across the idea. He also briefly mentioned the move of assistive technologies in the cloud (a recent trend). But the big message is - mobile!

Rachel Burnett gave a talk on the law and IT - quite useful in terms of the need for assistive technologies (i.e you've got to do it!). Some resources mentioned included Disability Law Service and Mind's Legal Advice Service.

Miguel Gonzalez Sancho gave a talk on EU inclusion policy, what is is, past projects to support the policy, and plans for the future. He talked about i2010, which is just about to wrap up:

There are plans to move this strategy forward (they are currently going through the consultation process), but it looks like they may well address the problems in ageing. Its all very sketchy at the moment, but I will try my best to keep and eye out for any developments. Hearing report can be found here:

Alasdair King gave a talk on the new assitive technologies group. This was set up to replace the now disbanded disabilities group, which used to be run by Geoff Busby.

Robin Chrisopherson of abilityNet (they were very prominent at the event!), gave a very entertaining demonstration of how blind people use computers. What was particularly interesting is that many flashly designed websites using CCS as very hard to use for people who utilise screen reader to interact with the browser. What was even more interesting, was that he showed that using the interfaces set up for mobile devices (facebook, new scientist) were far more useable to users who needed assistive technology to navigate pages. The implication here is that designing for mobile might generally be a good idea!

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