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 (sponsored breakout)

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

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 (sponsored breakout)

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 

Salesforce: The new Office of Accessibility – Explained (sponsored breakout)

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

Vispero: The Engineering Experience of Adding a Voice Assistant to ZoomText and JAWS (sponsored breakout)

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, Senior Software Engineer, Vispero
  • Roxana Fischer, UX Research Analyst, Vispero

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, and Study Away Alum
  • 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

Eyedaptic: Simulated Natural Vision Technology & One User’s Low Vision Journey (sponsored breakout)

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, Eyedaptic
  • Samuel Newman, Clinical Specialist & Low Vision Technology User

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

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
  • Jeff Bishop, Microsoft Program Manager on the Windows Accessibility team
  • Joshua Flewellen, Agent Analyst, Aira
  • Be Birchall, Senior Software Engineer, Peloton Interactive

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