Accessibility Forum Speaker Biographies
Taking Accessibility Mainstream: Making the Case for an International Society of Accessibility Professionals
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Judy Brewer - Director, Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Judy Brewer directs the Web Accessibility Initiative(WAI) at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Since September 1997 she has coordinated five areas of work for W3C with regard to Web accessibility: ensuring that W3C technologies (HTML, CSS, SMIL, XML, etc.) support accessibility; developing accessibility guidelines for Web content, browsers and multimedia players, authoring tools, and XML applications; improving tools for evaluation and repair of Web sites; conducting education and outreach on Web accessibility; and monitoring research and development which may impact future accessibility of the Web.
Judy is W3C’s chief liaison on accessibility policy and standardization internationally, promoting awareness and implementation of Web accessibility, and ensuring effective dialog among industry, the disability community, accessibility researchers, and government on the development of consensus-based accessibility solutions. She is a Principle Research Scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
Prior to joining W3C, Judy worked on several US-based initiatives to increase access to mainstream technology for people with disabilities, and to improve dialog between industry and the disability community. These initiatives included work on Section 508 of the Workforce Investment Act, Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act, accessibility of the Windows 95 Operating System, and access to durable medical equipment for people with disabilities.
David Dikter - CEO, Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
David Dikter is the CEO of the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA). ATIA’s mission is to serve as the collective voice of the Assistive Technology industry so that the best products and services are delivered to people with disabilities. ATIA represents the interests of its members to business, government, education, and the many agencies that serve people with disabilities.
David manages the overall mission and operation of ATIA. He is responsible for all aspects of the ATIA annual conference, public awareness, government education and work on national policy issues as it relates to assistive and accessible technologies. He sits on the W3C-Web Accessibility Initiative Steering Council and works with diverse groups to promote AT and the needs of individuals with disabilities.Prior to joining ATIA, David worked in technology start ups and spent 15 years working in school districts as a teacher of students with disabilities and technology leader, training and promoting educational and assistive technologies.
Andrew Kirkpatrick - Group Product Manager, Accessibility, Adobe Systems
He is a frequent speaker and writer on accessibility including contributing chapters to Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance, a new book by Friends of ED. Kirkpatrick joined Macromedia in July 2005 from the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media, where he was Director of Technology with a focus on accessibility research and consulting.
Jonas Klink - Senior Product Manager for Accessibility, eBay
Jonas Klink focuses his personal passion for accessibility on bringing together the needs of individuals and the goals of organizations in designing their products to give every user full access and an equivalent user experience.
He currently manages the Accessibility team at eBay, who has ensured that accessibility is incorporated throughout testing and development, making end-to-end buying and selling on eBay (both using the web and mobile interfaces) accessible. He is also the creator of eBay’s Jobs Creation program, through which the company has partnered with the community and helped blind entrepreneurs successfully create lucrative businesses using eBay’s platform.
Prior to joining eBay, Jonas worked for Google as one of the leads on their accessibility efforts. In this role, Jonas worked as a developer and product manager for the incorporation of accessibility in projects such as Google Search, Toolbar, Desktop, Apps and Chrome. His thesis topic was Accessible Educational Gaming.
Peter Korn - Accessibility Principal, Oracle
Peter Korn is Oracle's Accessibility Principal – their senior individual contributor on accessibility. He is also Technical Manager of the AEGIS project, leading an EC-funded €12.6m investment building accessibility into future mainstream ICT (FP7-ICT224348).
Mr. Korn co-developed and co-implemented the Java Accessibility API, and developed the Java Access Bridge for Windows. He helped design the open source GNOME Accessibility architecture found on most modern UNIX and GNU/Linux systems, and consulted on accessibility support for Oracle OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, and other applications. Prior to Sun/Oracle, Peter co-developed the outSPOKEN for Windows screen reader.
Mr. Korn represented Sun/Oracle on TEITAC for the Section 508/255 refresh, co-led the OASIS ODF Accessibility subcommittee, and sits on INCITS V2 where he is contributing to ISO 13066: defining AT-IT interoperability standards including specifically the Java Accessibility API.
Axel Leblois - Executive Director, G3ict
Axel Leblois is the Founder and Executive Director of G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Technologies, an Advocacy Initiative of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development promoting the ICT accessibility provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Prior to creating G3ict, Axel Leblois spent over 20 years at the helm of information technology companies in the United States including as CEO of Computerworld Communications, CEO of IDC – International Data Corporation, President & CEO of Bull HN Worldwide Information Systems – Formerly Honeywell Information Systems, CEO of ExecuTrain and co-founder and President of W2i, the Wireless Internet Institute. Axel Leblois served as a Fellow of UNITAR, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and is a founding trustee of its North American affiliate CIFAL Atlanta. Axel Leblois holds an MBA from INSEAD and is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris.
Martin has been in the AT sector for 17 years, having a background in AAC and Access technologies before moving into LD and Dyslexia Technologies in 1998. Martin partners closely with leading education publishers in the USA to improve content accessibility and implement Universal Design in education products.
Martin has served on the board of the ATIA, and is currently sitting on the Steering Comittee of the AIA. He is involved in various international standards groups related to accessibility and web development.
Cyndi Rowland, PhD - Executive Director, WebAIM
Dr. Rowland is the associate director at the Center for Persons with Disabilities. She currently directs projects that focus on the development and use of accessible technologies. WebAIM is one such program. Dr. Rowland began WebAIM in 1998 with federal funding and has worked to sustain the excellent contributions of this group over the years.
Dr. Rowland is extensively involved in the National Center for Disability and Access to Education where she is the chair of the Technology Institute. Dr. Rowland is considered by many to be an expert in accessibility policy and law. She has worked extensively with education systems in transforming their practices to those that are accessible. Dr. Rowland has presented to over 90 groups on accessibility, and writes on topics of interest (currently the impact of accessible design on individuals with cognitive impairment). She has written over 30 articles on the Web, in journals, and in books. Dr. Rowland has taken leadership roles in 25 federal and state contracts and grants. She looks forward to a day when she is unemployed because the Web is a space that can be accessed by all.
Ken Salaets - Director of Global Policy, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)
As director of a portfolio of information technology policy and advocacy initiatives, Ken has been instrumental in advancing ITI as the leading global industry voice on ICT accessibility, energy efficiency and standardization policy. During his tenure at ITI, he has successfully positioned ITI as the industry negotiator on ENERGY STAR® specifications for imaging products, computers and other ICT equipment, and has helped to extend the reach and impact of the association’s Standardization Policy Committee in international capitals such as Beijing, Brussels and Tokyo. His entrepreneurial skills have helped convert ITI’s Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® reporting tool into the de facto market standard for conveying information about the accessibility-related features of ICT products and services critical to people with disabilities, and the governments and businesses that employ them.
Prior to joining ITI, Ken served on the professional staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Operations where he managed oversight investigations and congressional hearings on a wide range of issues, including international aviation security, government housing, and federal small and disadvantaged business subcontracting.
Ken is a member of the European Union’s M376 Joint Working Group on ICT accessibility standards, a delegate to and Project Plan Editor of the ISO/IEC JTC1 Special Working Group on Accessibility, and serves as Secretary of the INCITS Accessibility Study Group.
Richard Schwerdtfeger - CTO Accessibility, IBM Software
Richard is the Chief Technology Officer, Accessibility, for IBM Software, an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor. His responsibilities include overall accessibility architecture and strategy for Software Group. Richard participates in numerous W3C standards efforts including HTML 5, WAI Protocols and Formats, and Ubiquitous Web Applications. Richard created and chairs the W3C WAI-ARIA accessibility standards effort for Web 2.0 applications as well as the IMS GLC Access for All accessibility standards efforts. He also formed and co-chairs the Open Ajax Alliance Accessibility Tools Task Force which is leading the the industry in establishing new WCAG 2 accessibility rule sets and reporting best practices needed to support Web 2.0 applications.
Richard is a former steering committee member of the Accessibility Interoperability Alliance and a member of Raising the Floor's team of experts working on a Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure focusing on cloud-based personalized access. Richard joined IBM at the Watson Research Center in 1993 where he helped design and develop Screen Reader/2. He, later, led numerous accessibility efforts at IBM, including: the collaboration with Sun on Java accessibility where he co-architected the Java Accessibility API and the IBM Self Voicing Kit for Java; the Web Accessibility Gateway for seniors; and the IAccessible2 strategy. Richard is an internationally recognized expert on accessibility with over twenty years of accessibility experience.
Rob Sinclair - Chief Accessibility Officer, Microsoft
As Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft, Rob Sinclair is responsible for the company's worldwide accessibility strategy to develop software and services that make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to see, hear, and use their computers.
Sinclair is a champion of Inclusive Innovation – an approach to designing and introducing new products into the market without marginalizing the aging or disability communities. He views the expanding digital divide and increasing complexity of our digital lifestyle as evidence that inclusion and innovation are too often viewed as competing goals.
Sinclair led the teams that created Microsoft UI Automation and the Ease of Access Center in Windows. He is a leading proponent for the formation of an international society of accessibility professionals, and he currently chairs the Accessibility Interoperability Alliance (AIA) – the engineering division of the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA).
Sinclair has a master’s degree in computer science from New Mexico State University and is an international award-winning nature and wildlife photographer.
Mary Smith - Vice President, SSB BART Group
Mary Jean Smith is the Vice President of Public Sector for SSB BART Group. Over the past two decades she has been involved with accessibility and disability issues including employment, Section 504 and section 508. As a clinical social worker, she has worked directly with state and county job programs supporting the employment of persons with disabilities.
In 1997 Mary was involved in the formation of Bartimaeus Group, a company focused on accessibility solutions. In her capacity of Vice President she helped to shape the company mission which included hiring a technical and sales staff of persons with disabilities. In 2005 Bartimaeus Group joined forces with SSB Technologies from San Francisco and today is the SSB BART Group. SSB BART Group provides risk management for section 508 compliance, including testing, audits, remediation and training, as well as section 504 accommodation solutions and JAWS Scripting.
Today, Mary is in charge of sales and sales development for the east coast and federal government, building relationships and networks to support business development.
Sharon Spencer - CODE for Accessibility Task Force Project Manager, ATIA
Sharon Spencer is a sales, marketing and management consultant specializing in the disability services industry. She has thirty years experience in various sales, marketing and executive management positions in organizations ranging from the Fortune 500 to start-up businesses. She has thirteen years experience in the disability services industry including seven years as Executive Vice President of Sales for Freedom Scientific. She also served for four years on the Board of Directors and as President of the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA).
Sharon has worked on numerous projects with ATIA over the last six years and most recently managed the ATIA/AIA Developer's Survey on Accessibility project, the CODE for Accessibility Task Force, and the case study analysis project.
Suzanne Taylor – Accessibility Manager, Pearson
Suzanne Taylor first witnessed the importance of technology accessibility while serving as a mentor and tutor for college students with learning disabilities. She later became a computer programmer and Web developer and has since taught webinars and in-person training sessions on the technical, business and social aspects of Web accessibility.
Her efforts at Pearson began as a grassroots training initiative, as Pearson employees wanted to learn about how and why the UI development team she led was making their product accessible. This effort grew through the enthusiasm of Pearson employees and the support of Pearson management. In June 2010, Suzanne was promoted to Accessibility Manager and was given the opportunity to work full-time on accessibility at Pearson. She manages a team of world-class consultants and provides user experience and technical training/consultation/review. This Accessible User Experiences and Technology Solutions team also created and maintains Pearson’s Web Accessibility Guidelines for Digital Learning Products.
Shawn Warren - VP of Product Support, Ai Squared
Prior to serving in management Shawn was a software application developer. For over 20 years, Ai Squared has developed and marketed world class products for the AT industry. ZoomText, the company’s flagship product family, is recognized as the world’s number 1 PC magnifier and screen reader for low vision PC users.
Sandi Wassmer - Managing Director, Copious Ltd
Sandi Wassmer is the managing director of digital agency Copious, inclusive design radical, human rights advocate, writer and public speaker. She also advises UK Government on eAccessibility and is a member of the eAccessibility Forum.
Sandi is very passionate about web education and participated in the Open Web Education Alliance (OWEA); she has recently embarked on a series of guest lectures at UK universities, including Middlesex and Dundee.
Sandi writes for leading web industry magazine .net, created the Ten Principles of Inclusive Web Design which were launched by the UK Government's Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) in 2011, blogs for sight loss charity Action for Blind People and is currently writing a chapter on content strategy for The Smashing Book #3.
Tom Wlodkowski - Director, Accessibility, AOL Inc.
As AOL’s accessibility director, Thomas Wlodkowski is responsible for heightening employee awareness of issues that prevent full access to the Internet, development of value-add features to the disability community, and the implementation of technological solutions to enhance the accessibility of AOL products and services. He also manages AOL’s external relations with the disability community. Blind himself, Mr. Wlodkowski is acutely aware of the positive impact accessible mainstream technology can have on the lives of people with disabilities.
Wlodkowski has worked in the accessibility field since 1990. Throughout his career, Tom has been uniquely positioned at the intersection of computers, the Internet, broadcast and cable television. He has managed a wide scope of projects including designing accessible user interfaces for web and desktop applications, designing the first talking menus for DVDs, authored guidelines for designing accessible mainstream software applications and consulting on accessible technology to corporations.
Wlodkowski also contributes to public policy efforts to advance accessibility of mainstream technology. In May 2010, he testified before the U.S. Senate Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee concerning the “21st Century Video and Communications Act which was signed into law in October 2010.