The Agenda

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    Main Stage

    Practice Main stage session

    Join our testing and training session in advance of the Sight Tech Global event on December 2 and 3, 2020.

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    Breakout

    Practice Breakout Session

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    Main Stage

    Day 1: Welcome and Introduction by Karae Lisle, CEO of Vista Center and Will Butler, Host of Sight Tech Global

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    Main Stage

    Seeing AI: Where does Microsoft’s blockbuster app go from here

    With ever more powerful computer and data resources available in the cloud, Microsoft’s Seeing AI mobile app is destined to become a steadily better ally for anyone with vision challenges. Co-founder Saqib Shaikh leads the engineering team that is charting the app’s cloud-enabled future.

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    Breakout

    Perkins Access: Users Aren't an Add-on: Building the User Perspective into the Design Process

    Comcast and Perkins Access (the digital accessibility consulting division of Perkins School for the Blind) will share insights for creating accessible experiences, with an emphasis on building the user perspective into the design process. This ensures that all teams understand the specific challenges, and unique needs, of blind and visually impaired users. Panelists include the authors of Perkins Access’ Inclusive Design Guide, which will be released at Sight Tech and available for download.
    • Geoff Freed, Perkins Access
    • Gary Aussant, Perkins Access
    • Jerry Berrier, Perkins School for the Blind
    • Karyn Georgilis, MBA Candidate, Harvard Business School
    • Tom Wlodkowski, VP, Accessibility and Multicultural, Technology and Product, Comcast
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    Main Stage

    The future of AT devices and the companies that make them

    Dedicated devices vs accessible platforms? Victor Reader Stream vs. iPhones and Alexa? How will AT companies take advantage of a world with cloud data and edge computational power, AI algorithms and more demanding customers than ever? Humanware, eSight and APH are already looking far into that future.

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    Main Stage

    The future according to OrCam

    As AI-based computer vision, voice recognition and natural language processing race ahead, the engineering challenge is to design devices that can perceive the physical world and communicate that information in a timely manner. Amnon Shashua’s OrCam MyEye is the most sophisticated effort yet to merge those technologies in a seamless experience on a dedicated device.

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    Breakout

    Eyedaptic: Simulated Natural Vision Technology & One User's Low Vision Journey

    Eyedaptic is an AR (Augmented Reality) visual aid company, which helps those with retina-related vision loss, such as AMD, simulate natural vision. Their novel software is adaptive to the user’s vision, as well as their environment and habits and optimizes the remaining vision. A user’s view of low vision challenges and issues that he has overcome along with the different technologies he has tried offers a perspective on this, and other low vision technologies.
    • Jay Cormier, Eyedaptic Founder & CEO
    • Samuel Newman, Clinical Specialist & Low Vision Technology User
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    Main Stage

    Our AI future is already here

    Whether it’s Alexa, Tesla or Facebook, AI is already deeply embedded in our daily lives. Few understand that better than Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, a scientist who developed the first speaker-independent, continuous speech recognition system as a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon, led Google in China and held senior roles at Microsoft and Apple. Today, Dr. Lee runs Sinovation Ventures, a $2 billion fund based in China, is president of the Sinovation’s Artificial Intelligence Institute and has 50 million followers on social media.

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    Breakout

    Fable: The barriers to utopia: Why feedback comes first

    A lot of conversations these days are about the latest technology, and how it promises to solve all of our problems. But what about people? Join the CEO and the Community Lead of Fable, Alwar Pillai and Samuel Proulx, as they discuss how to collect authentic feedback from people living with disabilities.
    • Alwar Pillai, CEO, Fable
    • Samuel Proulx, Community Lead, Fable
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    Main Stage

    Alexa, what is your future?

    When Alexa launched six years ago, no one imagined that the voice assistant would reach into millions of daily lives and become a huge convenience for people who are blind or visually impaired. This fall, Alexa introduced personalization and conversational capabilities that are a step-change toward more human-like home companionship. Amazon’s Josh Miele and Anne Toth will discuss the impact on accessibility as Alexa becomes more capable.

    Speakers

    • Josh Miele Photo
      Josh Miele, Principal Accessibility Researcher, Lab126, Amazon
    • Anne Toth Photo
      Anne Toth, Director, Alexa Trust, Amazon
    • Devin Coldewey Photo
      Moderator: Devin Coldewey, Writer & Photographer, TechCrunch
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    Breakout

    Benetech: Using Artificial Intelligence to unlock STE(A)M Education

    Artificial Intelligence is a term that has been around for decades and AI applications and techniques are already being used in everything from HR, healthcare and ecommerce. But what is the future of AI in supporting accessibility and inclusive education? This session will provide a basic understanding of various AI techniques, including Machine Learning and Computer Vision, and how Benetech is applying these techniques to transform complex books. For accessible formats, text is easy but equations, images and other non-text content is not straightforward. Join us to hear more about the future of Assistive Technology and how it is opening new worlds for the blind and visually impaired.
    • Brad Turner, VP and GM, Global Education and Literacy, Benetech
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    Main Stage

    Inventors invent: Three new takes on assistive technology

    Inventors have long been inspired to apply their genius to helping blind people. Think of innovators like Louis Braille and Ray Kurzweil, to name just two. Today's ambitious pioneers have the cheap sensors, high speed data networks, and data and compute "in the cloud" to do more than ever before. In this session, three founders present products that have just or will soon will enter production that they believe will improve the lives of people with disabilities.

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    Main Stage

    If the Jetsons had screen readers, would they be using keyboard commands?

    The screen reader is arguably the most consequential digital technology ever for people who are blind or visually impaired. At the same time, screen readers depend on a dizzying array of keyboard commands, and - when it comes to reading websites in a browser - they struggle with the ugly reality of poor website accessibility. New technologies may lead the way to a better experience.

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    Breakout

    HumanWare: Plotting the Course – delving into the Past, Present, and Future of Assistive Technology for the Visually Impaired Community Through the Lens of Artificial Intelligence

    This session will spotlight the trajectory of HumanWare and how current technological trends impact the future of product development. Join Eric Beauchamp, Francois Boutrouille and Peter Tucic for a discussion of how the previous 32 years of HumanWare’s development of blindness and low vision technology has evolved and will continue to do so with the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Participants will develop a better understanding of how the challenge of providing products that solved singular tasks has now shifted to integrate the complexities of deep learning technology to interact with dynamic objectives in real-time.
    • Eric Beauchamp, Director of Product Management
    • Francois Boutrouille, Emerging Technology Leader
    • Peter Tucic, Brand Ambassador of Blindness Products
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    Main Stage

    AI, Fairness and Bias: What technologists and advocates need to do to ensure that AI helps instead of harms people with disabilities

    While it's clear that AI-based technologies like natural language processing and computer vision are powerful tools to help with accessibility, there are also areas where AI technologies inject bias against people with disabilities by contrasting them again "norms" established in databases. This panel will look at examples of where that is happening – in employment software, benefits determination or even self-driving cars, for example, - and approaches that will help address these issues from the ground up.

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    Breakout

    American Printing House for the Blind: Know Your Audience - Learning how your users without sight use technology and how you can optimize the experience for all

    Today technology users who are blind or low vision can utilize most technology thanks to inclusive design practices and assistive technology. Whether they are shopping online or adjusting their fantasy football lineup, users without sight can access the same apps and technology as everyone else. They access it using an alternative interface. Joe Hodge and Greg Stilson from the American Printing House for the Blind will introduce you to common ways that blind or low vision users use mainstream technology. They will also demonstrate challenges created by app developers who are not familiar with universal design principles.
    • Greg Stilson, Senior Director, Global Innovation and Strategy, APH
    • Joe Hodges, Software Quality Assurance Analyst, APH 
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    Main Stage

    Day 2: Welcome and Introduction by Karae Lisle, CEO of Vista Center and Will Butler, Host of Sight Tech Global

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    Main Stage

    Designing for everyone: Accessibility innovation at Apple

    Apple has long embraced accessibility as a bedrock design principle. Not only has Apple created some of the most popular consumer products in history, these same products are also some of the most powerful assistive devices ever. Apple’s Sarah Herrlinger and Jeffrey Bigham will discuss the latest accessibility technology from Apple and how the company fosters a culture of innovation, empowerment and inclusion.

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    Breakout

    American Council of the Blind: Get Up & get Moving: A Call for Leveraging Technology to Improve Health and Wellness

    The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the global challenges that technology can experience when pushed to the limits. This realty check has not only been disproportionately burdensome for individuals who are blind and visually impaired, but it has also exposed the pre-existing barriers that have harmed the physical, social, and psychological well-being within this community over the years. Join the American Council of the Blind for an empowering panel on how technology can break down barriers to a full and enriched life, and how we can all get up and get moving toward full equality in the health and wellness arena.
    • Clark Rachfal, ACB Director of Advocacy
    • Eric Bridges, ACB Executive Director
    • Brian Charlson, ACB member
    • Be Birchall, Senior Software Engineer, Peloton Interactive
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    Main Stage

    Computer Vision, AI and Accessibility: What’s missing from this picture?

    For an AI to interpret the visual world on behalf of people who are blind or visually impaired, the AI needs to know what it’s looking at, and no less important, that it’s looking at the right thing. Mainstream computer vision databases don’t do that well - yet. Work is under way to fill those data gaps.

    Speakers

    • Patrick Clary Photo
      Patrick Clary, Product Lead, Accessibility Engineering, Google Research
    • Danna Gurari Photo
      Danna Gurari, Director, Image and Video Computing Group, University of Texas at Austin
    • Cecily Morrison Photo
      Cecily Morrison, Principal Researcher in the Human Experience & Design, Microsoft
    • Roberto Manduchi Photo
      Moderator: Roberto Manduchi, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz
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    Main Stage

    Accessibility from the wheels up: the Waymo self-driving taxi

    If people who are blind or visually impaired find Uber and Lyft liberating, imagine how they will feel summoning a self-driving ride from an app on their mobile phones. But wait, how exactly will they locate the cars and what happens when they climb in? Clem Wright is responsible for the self-driving taxi’s accessibility, and he will be joined by leadership from two organizations with a big stake in the outcome: the Lighthouse for the Blind SF and the Foundation for Blind Children.

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    Breakout

    Salesforce: The new Office of Accessibility – Explained

    It's been a year since Salesforce announced the launch of their Office of Accessibility, a new corporate team that partners with internal stakeholders to highlight accessibility needs and develop improvement plans, build workforce development programs, and evangelize Salesforce and their employees, customers, and other important work across the industry, all under one roof. In this breakout session, Kristian Burch, Senior Manager of Global Accessibility Compliance, and Richard Boardman, Senior Director of UX Engineering, Accessibility will discuss what led to this groundbreaking move, how the Office interacts with other teams and more specifically Product Accessibility, what’s worked, and what they would change looking back.
    • Kristian Burch, Senior Manager of Global Accessibility Compliance
    • Richard Boardman, Senior Director of UX Engineering, Accessibility
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    Main Stage

    What can a body do? How we meet the built world

    Technologists like to imagine how their work affects people, but that's no substitute for truly knowing the real impact on lives, or better yet understanding what people, especially people with disabilities, really want from their surroundings and community. Author, designer and professor Sara Hendren discusses her new book, "What Can a Body Can Do?"

    Speakers

    • Sara Hendren Photo
      Sara Hendren, Associate Professor, Olin College of Engineering
    • Will Butler Photo
      Moderator: Will Butler, Vice President, Be My Eyes
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    Breakout

    Teach Access: Teaching accessibility to tomorrow's builders

    Teach Access, a national coalition of institutions of higher ed, corporations (mostly tech-centered) and advocates with disabilities, will be conducting a roundtable with recent college students to discuss how the teaching of accessible design and development at the university level can help close the accessibility skills gap for the emerging generation of participants in the new digital economy.
    • Ossama Ali, Teach Access Study Away 2019 Alum
    • Zach Bohenick, Product Designer, Ford X
    • Kate Sonka, Executive Director, Teach Access; Assistant Director of Academic Technology, Michigan State University
    • Larry Goldberg, Co-founder, Teach Access; Head of Accessibility, Verizon Media
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    Main Stage

    Wayfinding: Finding the mark

    Map apps on mobile phones are miraculous tools accessible via voice output, but mainstream apps don’t announce the detailed location information (which people who are blind or visually impaired really want), especially inside buildings and in public transportation settings. Efforts in the US and UK are improving accessible navigation.

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    Breakout

    accessiBe: Coming Soon!

    Description And Speakers Coming Soon!
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    Main Stage

    Augmented Reality and Perception: What’s the best way to get the message across?

    It's one thing for an AI-based system to "know" when it's time to turn left, who came through the door or how far away the couch is: it's quite another to convey that information in a timely fashion with minimal distraction. Researchers are making use of haptics, visual augmented reality (AR), sound and language to figure out the right solutions.

    Speakers

    • Amos Miller Photo
      Amos Miller, Product Strategist, Microsoft AI and Research, Microsoft
    • Sile O'Modhrain Photo
      Sile O'Modhrain, Associate Professor, Performing Arts Technology, University of Michigan
    • Ashley Tuan Photo
      Ashley Tuan, VP Medical Devices, Mojo Vision
    • Dr. Nicholas Giudice Photo
      Moderator: Dr. Nicholas Giudice, Professor of Spatial Informatics, University of Maine
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    Breakout

    Vispero: The Engineering Experience of Adding a Voice Assistant to ZoomText and JAWS

    Roxana and Sriram talk about their experiences in adding Voice Assistant to a mainstream Windows screen reader and magnifier. They explore the new input mechanic's benefits and limitations and the guideposts they used to create the initial command set. They also talk about the Voice assistant's data and conversational privacy aspects and how Vispero is approaching them.
    • Sriram Ramanathan, UX Research Analyst, Vispero
    • Roxana Fischer, Software Developer, Vispero
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    Main Stage

    Disability Rights and Inventing the Accessible Future

    When technologists design exciting new innovations, those designs rarely include blind people. Access to technology and information is a civil right. Yet when technologists design exciting new innovations, those designs rarely include blind people. Advocates urge us to employ a variety of strategies, from education to litigation, to ensure accessibility is baked into all future tech and information systems. Harvard Law’s first Deafblind graduate Haben Girma, disability rights attorney Lainey Feingold, and Chief Innovations officer with the DAISY Consortium, George Kerscher, will discuss strategies for creating a future fully accessible to disabled people, including those who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color.

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