Accessibility Forum Session Descriptions
Taking Accessibility Mainstream: Making the Case for an International Society of Accessibility Professionals
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
8:30 - 8:45 Welcome
Speaker: David Dikter, CEO, Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
8:45 - 9:45 The Need for an Accessibility Profession
Speakers: Rob Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer, Microsoft
Shawn Warren, VP of Product Support, Ai Squared
Sharon Spencer, CODE for Accessibility Task Force Project Manager, ATIA
The underlying principles of accessibility are well established, but current trends in consumer devices, product design, education, legislation and global collaboration make it increasingly difficult to achieve inclusion. A number of obstacles have emerged as corporations, government agencies, and educational institutions, worldwide, work to understand and respond to the needs of their employees and customers with disabilities. The proliferation of technology at work, at school and at home highlights two such obstacles:
1) need to significantly increase the number of developers/engineers, business leaders and other professionals who understand what it means for technology to be accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities,
2) need to understand how to implement systems that address these needs, how to procure and acquire accessible technology, and integrate those systems throughout an organization’s infrastructure.
Developers are key to overcoming these obstacles, but they cannot succeed without the necessary knowledge and tools. The question then becomes how to provide them with a pragmatic body of knowledge that leads to a harmonized global approach to the creation, integration and support of accessible devices, applications, content and media.
This session will frame the breadth of the challenge, share the data collected from the ATIA/AIA Developer’s Survey on Accessibility, and the recommendations developed by the CODE for Accessibility Task Force.
This session will draw parallels with where the privacy industry was 10 years ago and how creating a profession for privacy helped solve many of the challenges they faced. The lessons they learned can be applied to the current accessibility industry.
The IAPP was chosen as the case study model due to its success in creating and growing the privacy profession from a concept to a valued resource for companies around the world. Like accessibility, the privacy domain involves technical, business and public policy considerations. The IAPP built a professional society, a certification program, a community of professionals and related resources. This session will examine IAPP’s efforts over the past ten years to help understand the potential for similar efforts within the accessibility industry.
Moderator: Martin McKay, CTO & Founder, Texthelp Systems
Panelists: Rich Schwerdtfeger, CTO Accessibility, IBM Software
Suzanne Taylor – Accessibility Manager, Pearson
Peter Korn, Accessibility Principal, Oracle
Over the past 5 years the working environment for accessible technology developers has become significantly more complex. There is a market requirement for accessible technologies that will operate on a quickly growing and changing suite of platforms, devices and form factors. IMS Research forecasts that, although there were fewer than 30 million touchscreen devices sold in 2007, the number is set to increase to over 230 million per annum by 2012. There is no cross platform consensus for an accessible interface for touch devices. In addition to the new UI and Form Factors, developers have to respond to a rapid growth in platforms. Windows and Mac now compete with Android, Chromium, WebOS and IOS among others.
This session will explore how these market factors are impacting the development strategies of large business and government IT departments, and how a professional society could provide a forum for thought leadership and standards development. Panelists for this session will include individuals who have many years of accessible development experience in Business, IT and Government.
Moderator: Andrew Kirkpatrick, Group Product Manager, Accessibility, Adobe Systems
Panelists: Axel Leblois, Executive Director, G3ict
Ken Salaets, Director of Global Policy/Executive Director of AccessStar, Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)
Judy Brewer, Director, Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Policy activities and standards work is increasing worldwide. With this onslaught of activity, many companies are challenged to keep up with these efforts and to understand them. Once aware, the challenge becomes to understand what impact it has on them, how and whether to engage, and how to implement new requirements.
This session will discuss the breadth of pending policies and accessibility efforts and provide an open dialogue on how to deal with the magnitude of this challenge. How does an organization keep up and when should they get involved? How do the policy and standards changes impact the efforts of the development community? How can we change the way developers and business leaders think about creating accessible products?
Moderator: Mary Smith, VP, SSB BART Group
Panelists: Tom Wlodkowski, Accessibility Director, AOL Inc.
Cyndi Rowland, PhD - Executive Director, WebAIM
Jonas Klink, Senior Product Manager for Accessibility, eBay
Sandi Wassmer, Managing Director, Copious Ltd.
Accessibility has grown into a complex and highly technical expertise. There is an international need for qualified accessibility professionals in government and corporate environments. In addition, Accessibility developers do not work in a vacuum. They are part of larger IT and development organizations that have uneven levels of accessibility skill and commitment. Survey respondents for the Developer’s Survey on Accessibility cited a lack of education and training as a fundamental challenge to the broader realization of accessible technology.
The lack of training on accessibility is itself a problem, but highlights an additional problem. There is little formal education in accessibility development in secondary and graduate computer science degree programs. The reality is that there is no distinct professional identity or discipline for accessibility developers and no broadly accepted organization to which they can belong for the purpose of continuing education.
This session will explore the following questions: How does industry standardize the knowledge and skill set required and validate that someone in this field is qualified? What sorts of education would be needed for Developers who know nothing about accessibility and how best should that knowledge be delivered? What would be needed on an ongoing basis to ensure that the level of skill for the development community is increased? Should an accessibility certification program be developed?
Speaker: David Dikter, CEO, Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)
This session will tie the challenges previously discussed with the role that a professional society can play.
Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in breakout groups to discuss the questions raised and provide input to needed solutions.
Planned breakout topics include:
Education, Training & Certification Programs - Integrating with Existing Efforts/The Role a Professional Society Plays
Building a Community – Resources, Knowledge Sharing, Information Dissemination, Networking
Governance – How a Professional Society Could Be Structured
Additional topics may be identified during the day. Attendees will be able to select the breakout topic they participate in.
Each breakout group will share with all attendees the results of the discussion within their group. As a whole, the attendees will build consensus as to what steps should be taken next to address the challenges and potential solutions discussed.
Speakers - Speaker biographies are available here.
(Schedule and speakers subject to change.)