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.

How AI image generating tools could be helpful or harmful

Every week it seems there is a new tool released to generate images using AI. How might these tools be used in a way that increases inclusion? What are the risks we currently face with AI generated images furthering exclusion? This session will be an interactive exploration of AI image generation (with descriptions) and how it could impact disability representation, alternative text, and facilitate blind people as image creators. Help guide Kate’s live exploration and discover what images are generated from the prompts chosen from audience participation.


  • Kate Kalcevich, Head of Accessibility Innovation, Fable


Hardware takes a long time to build, test and take to market, especially a specialized market like the one for people witout vision. Hear from DOT’s founders about the lessons they learned along the way as well as the challenges that stil lie ahead.


Paving the “Holy Braille” Highway

APH and HumanWare continue to drive forward in developing the Dynamic Tactile Device (DTD), bringing innovative technology from DOT Inc., and creative ideas from leaders in the braille community together, building a solution referred to as the “Holy Braille.” In this breakout session, Greg Stilson will share developments on the DTD’s ecosystem and how educational content will be delivered to students as never before. See how DTD applications can enable students to study, shop, play games, and more. Share insights to assist in maximizing the usefulness of this innovative tool.


  • Greg Stilson, Head of Global Innovation, The American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

Breaking down barriers to STEM learning with AI/ML

While we now have the technology for converting a novel like War and Peace into accessible formats, converting STEM education materials remains a challenge. Making these books accessible today requires a lot of human effort. The average math textbook contains over 5,000 equations, and it can take three to four months for a specialist to transform a print math book into accessible formats. But with AI-driven approaches, we can reduce the conversion time from months to minutes. Benetech has built and trained an AI engine that uses machine learning and computer vision to identify, classify and convert math equations and images into MathML. It converts a PDF document into an accessible EPUB in a matter of seconds. With this solution, we are marching towards achieving our vision of creating equity and inclusion in STEM education by bridging the gap in availability of accessible STEM educational materials.


Augmenting Access to the IoT with HumanWare AT

The Internet of things, or IoT, loosely refers to todays landscape of connected devices in both how they network with each other and the cloud. IoT plays a major roll in all our daily lives. From having your smart speaker adjust the thermostat to tapping your watch on a rapid transit reader, or ordering food through a kiosk, we are living in a world with over 7 billion connected devices. While much of the IOT is accessible to someone who is blind, at times awareness of how to interact with these “things,” can be challenging. Assistive technology can serve as either a conduit to more efficiently access the connected world, or as an augmentation to vastly improve the user experience. This presentation will explain how HumanWare is using machine and deep learning technologies to provide more complete access to the connected world. We will look at currently available devices, as well as where we are heading in the future.


Building a More Inclusive and Accessible World Through Innovation and Collaboration

Join the American Council of the Blind for a conversation to learn how the built environment is becoming more accessible and independently navigable for people who are blind. In this session, ACB will host a conversation with representatives from Verizon Communications, Way Map, and Way Finder Family Services to share how technology developers, service providers, and the blindness community are collaborating to solve long-standing issues through the adoption of new technologies. We will discuss the latest innovations in way finding and navigation technology, learn how they are helping to meet the needs of people who are blind, and postulate how these services might be enhanced in the future.  Here are helpful videos from Way Map and Verizon / Way Map describing their work.


  • Zachary Bastien, Manager, Strategic Alliances, Verizon
  • Eric Bridges, Executive Director, American Council of the Blind
  • Allison Burdett, Associate Vice President, Visual Impairment and Developmental Disabilities Services, WayFinder Family Services
  • Clark Rachfal, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, American Council of the Blind
  • David Shaffer, Vice President and General Counsel, Waymap