Living with a disability often brings invaluable insights regarding potential innovations and risks of technology design. This session will bring together a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds to discuss the innovation opportunities and accessibility risks of emerging technology systems and practices. What can we learn from decades of experience in advocating for digital accessibility? How can we empower the insights of “extreme users.”

Session Chair: Jutta Treviranus, Ph.D., Professor, Director Founder, IDCR, IDI, OCAD University


  • Matt Ater, Vice President, Vispero
  • Cathy Bodine, PhD, CCC-SLP, Professor, Department of Bioengineering, College of Engineering, Design and Computing, and Coleman-Turner Endowed Chair in Cognitive Disability, Executive Director, Coleman Institute for Cognitive Technologies, University of Colorado
  • Alana Beal, Sr. Manager, Segment Marketing, T-Mobile
  • John Lee, Tech Access Initiative Group Member, United Spinal Association




OCTOBER 24, 2022
2:45 PM ET


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This text, document, or file is based on live transcription. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.

FRANCESCA CESA BIANCHI: So, we are ready. Welcome back again. If you would like to take your seat, please, we are about to start. I would like to introduce the panel discussion Advocate's perspective on Future Directions for Digital Accessibility Innovations. Dr. Jutta Treviranus Professor and Director Founder of IDCR at OCAD University in Toronto.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Welcome to this discussion. I know this isn't the ideal setting for a fireside chat. Somebody said we should have had a fireplace over here. If people could come closer, because we're hoping to engage you as well.
So, I would like ask a question of the audience first. How many of you are new to the accessibility or inclusive design field? A few of you. Welcome! That's great. We have about three people. How many of you have been in the field for more than a year? Okay. More than five years? More than ten years? More than 20 years? More than 30 years? We still have some hands up. More than 40 years?
Okay. Well, that's quite amazing. How many centuries of experience on inclusive design and accessibility do you think we have in this room in so, the next question I want to ask is, how many of you think we've exceeded in our effort, that we have reached equitable digital inclusion? I'm not seeing a single hand.
Okay. How many of you remember a time when we had to argue that digital inclusion is important, that it should be a right? That was part of our argument, that we needed to go to jobs, we needed to yes. A lot of you. You do remember that. That's great.
So, given that it is now required for everything, who thinks that we are relatively better off than when we began?
Okay. There are a few. About I would say one third of you. Who thinks that the challenges are only multiplying like rabbits and it's an even more challenging issue? There is about another third. I wonder what the rest of people that didn't raise their hands think.
Okay. So, we have gathered here today, a very interesting panel with a huge diversity of perspectives, and we're going to try to think about what has worked in the past as we're advocating or trying to improve accessibility, but more importantly, what hasn't worked, and what are the lessons that we're going to learn from that?
Our panelists include Matt Ater. Am I saying that right? Okay. Cathy Bodine, Alana Beal, and John Lee. I'm going to go through the row and ask you each what is the position you currently hold and how many years of working in accessibility and inclusive design do you have under your belt? I'll start with Matt.

MATT ATER: Thank you. Welcome, everybody. Currently I'm Vice President of the Vispero and I've been in the industry for 28 years.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Okay. So, somebody who does math, try to add all of these up. Okay. Cathy?

CATHY BODINE: I'm so sad that you asked that question. Let's see. So, my titles are I'm a Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado, Executive Director of Coleman Institute for Cognitive Abilities and Director Center for Inclusive Design in Engineering, and I started working in assistive technology in 1985 when I had five clients who were non verbal about to be put in an institution because they couldn't talk.


ALANA BEAL: Hello, everyone. My name is Alana Beal, the Senior Manager Marketing for the segment with T Mobile. I've been in the telecommunications industry for 30 years and I just bring a lot of knowledge and inclusivity, especially from experience as a disabled individual.


JOHN LEE: Hi, everybody. I'm John Lee, a Tech Access Group Member of the United Spinal Tech Axis Initiative and I've been a technologist specialist for the last three years in the nonprofit and higher education sector currently working in Cal Poly.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Wonderful. How many years?

JOHN LEE: 23 years.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Great. Okay. Who did the math? I think we probably have more than a century of experience here among us. So, I know that we're here to celebrate our victories and to talk about just what we've accomplished for the last 10 years, but I think part of the celebration is also celebrating what we've learned, and most insights are often gained by what has not worked, where have we failed, and what has gone wrong.
The first question I actually want to ask our panelists is, what have we learned from what has not worked in decades of accessibility advocacy? What have been the unintended consequences of the strategies that we've tried in the past?
And we talked about this a little bit before we began the panel, and I know that Matt had come up with one particular example, which was the issues related to web accessibility, and I certainly share some of what he brought up at the time.
For example, the accessibility community has had a laser focus on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines by expecting every author, so almost everybody is now a web author, to be able to understand the very complex technical issues related to creating something accessible, or to then if they can't do it, to hire an industry of experts.
Rather than I was thinking, it has been really great right at the beginning to create authoring tools that wouldn't let you actually render code or compile code that was inaccessible, and that would support and prompt you to do that. But, of course, that is thinking in the past.
Matt, you had an additional issue that you were bringing up regarding our approaches to ensuring that the web is accessible.

MATT ATER: Yeah, so thank you. When I look at what we've been doing for whatever number of years it is now since WCAG 1.0 or the number we are now, almost 2.2? Is that we spend a lot of time looking at things from a compliance and a checklist perspective and checking the box, and that should be the baseline for things, rather than looking at the user and can the user perform the tasks, we're starting at the technical side rather than the user side. We don't incorporate enough user feedback to drive the solutions we're doing today. We're sitting back and saying, okay, if a check box speaks correctly and drop down works correctly, if I can interact with a button and I tell you the proper name, then that's good enough. Instead of understanding, can the user use that technology from front to end in a timely manner with the expected user experience. We're focused so much on can we pass a compliance check.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Thank you. Yeah. I think there are I mean all of our panelists have come up with examples. John, we were talking about assistive technology and the segregated assistive technology industry and how that has grown and some of the consequences of that. I know Cathy will say something about that as well. But, John, you had some interesting perspectives.

JOHN LEE: Thanks. Yes. I think the integration, the operationability between assistive technology and accessibility, those two things are really two sides of the same coin have sometimes been at odds and haven't really co existed as well. I think, you know, we've seen kind of this development of assistive technology as kind of that separate industry, and as opposed to what we're seeing more and more now of assistive technologies really being integrated into the devices and the virtual spaces that we participate in. So, seeing things like, you know, obviously, Microsoft with their learning tools and the immersive reader that are really based on assistive technologies that have been around as separate or more segregated technologies, that are now being more built in.
You had that model, I think, of people thinking of assistive technology as just for those people, for disabled folks, and the cost as a result tended to be higher and the usage tended to be more niche until people started to realize that, gosh, a lot of us could benefit as folks who maybe don't identify as being disabled but have functional limitations that could be assisted by this technology. We talk about closed captions, text to speech, speech to text, as examples of that that are now being built into our operating systems on the devices that we use, and even as extensions in our web browsers.
So, we're seeing assistive technology being more built into the mainstream devices and software that we use, and I think the of course the cost goes down for the user of that and the ease of getting access to it increases. So, seeing that shift has been great, but it's been a slow process, and I think that's, you know, resulted in kind of some folks being left behind a lot longer than before.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: So, there are benefits of cost, the cost goes down because it's matter of the mainstream. There are benefits of interoperability because there isn't the breakdown in communication between the small company making the AT and the mainstream company. And the cost also means that countries where there isn't AT, there is still some form of access.

JOHN LEE: Exactly.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: I guess one of the things that frequently happens though is that the assistive technology is so much further ahead than what is integrated into the mainstream, so how do we bridge that gap such that the screen reader that's a specialized screen reader, all of that functionality also gets into the mainstream.

JOHN LEE: Still a challenge. Yep. Exactly.

MATT ATER: If I could, I think one of the challenges that if we look at some of the things that are built into mainstream versus things that are built for the special use case is the end user, you really need to understand the end user and what their needs are, and there is a wide range of skills among the community using the technology. And they need support and training that may be beyond what mainstream technology companies can support and train.
So, when you look at it from a cost perspective, there is a larger cost scenario to the end user on top of just the technology to ensure that they get the training and support along with it, and do those mainstream companies, which is that they're all good at building some of this technology, but do they have the infrastructure to support somebody in an employment setting and not just in a home setting on a phone or on a computer or on a bike that has the speech built in. I'm using speech because that's my expertise. But if you look at it from text to speech, excuse me. If you look at it from that perspective, it's way broader than just the need of the technology. They need the support and training as well.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Right. So, for computer access or access in general to all of these mainstream systems and functions, what about integrating the actual experts and companies that know so much and that train into the mainstream as well and make it the responsibility as the mainstream companies to support and ensure that those skills are supported and covered.
One of the other things in our earlier discussions was the need for better usability or user experience, which was how we began this conversation as well. Often, the individuals that are producing the specialized technologies, the segregated specialized technologies are smaller companies and may not have the UX or the usability chops to be able to they're just keeping up with interoperability, keeping up with features. And so what or how do we address that particular issue? I think Cathy has a lot of experience and cognitive load associated with the assistive technologies. There was an anecdote we were tossing around where we were introduced to a completely inaccessible test for literacy, and when we actually looked at the completely accessible test for literacy, each question had to be responded by 30 switch strokes, so the actual access process had a far greater cognitive load than actually taking the test or what was being tested. I think that's an anecdote that crosses many different situations. Cathy, what's your thinking?

CATHY BODINE: I think it's fascinating to me when you hear some clinician the anecdote I will tell is we had a young man who was his native language was Hmong. He was nonverbal, and he had a significant hearing impairment. And so the speech pathologist was signing to him. His mother was communicating in their native language, and he was being asked to type on the computer in English. And the therapist put her little hands on her waist and she said, I just don't understand why we can't do this. I was like oh, my God! You know, what are we asking people to do.
And so I think particularly with younger designers, you know, they may come up with a beautifully elegant solution but it's only beautifully elegant if you take the components, and we're not teaching our students and we're not teaching existing designers of the complexities that are inherent within using an interface to interface to get to those tennis shoes on We're not thinking through that process.
So, we need to really be measuring the cognitive load, and the way to do that is not sitting at my desk. It's bringing in people who might actually use the product and getting their user experience and really asking the right questions to understand how we can do better. We need to make that the core of how we design.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Right, and offer a whole set of choices as how you can do it.

ALANA BEAL: Absolutely.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Direct access was a topic way back when, so not having to go through layers of layers of interpretation to actually do things like print or talk or et cetera.

CATHY BODINE: For those of us really old, do you remember DOS? Who remembers DOS?
Do you remember the day that GUI interfaces came out? Your whole world, our whole world shut down. And I have never forgotten that day because it was devastating to millions of people around the world, probably. I don't know what the numbers were, but it was horrible. That was just a lack of foresight, a lack of thinking, a lack of being able to walk in someone else's shoes. Bill.

I like the point you brought up about user involvement, and to that point I just want to add really quick the tech access, there was an example where in her home there were all the devices that respond to her voice. She has Dragon Naturally Speaking on the computer, Alexa, and other Smart Home control things, and the cognitive load of trying to keep up with, okay I use this command for this device and that for that one, and they don't all there is not a consistency across those. That's the kind of real world situation that sometimes designers don't take into account. Here is a real person in a messy kind of situation that has to use this, and it is, there is a huge cognitive load to that and sometimes can be overwhelming or intimidating.

I think what's also interesting is no one intentionally is a bad guy or bad person, right. But what we have learned is all we have to do is bring an engineer into the room, and when that's not possible, to share a 10 second video clip of something not working, and they will do everything in their power to fix it. So, the dissonance isn't us against be them, but it's how we're communicating between all of the groups, I think.

I think that goes back to the concept of don't tell them, you know, something is not labeled. Just tell them what the problem is. They're smart enough for figure it out. Those engineers like to do that. Give them a problem and let them solve it. They can do a lot of good stuff with that.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Alana, you had something else.

ALANA BEAL: I did. Thank you. I would say all of the design and process, many times we forget that there is a lot of new technology that is auditory processing based, and so that's going to impact the Deaf or Hard of Hearing individuals who have hearing loss even later on in life, so it's designed to make life easier or better, but we need to include the disabled individuals it he very beginning until the very end of the development cycle. So we want to make sure that it's an all inclusive experience. I think that there is a lot of people left out in that process.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Yeah. I think one of the other areas we discussed earlier was regulation and legislation and what we've learned there. Certainly, we are using fairly old instruments to fairly old legal instruments to try to regulate the digital, and in order for them to be successful, they need to be static, they need to be simple, and they need to be testable. And, of course, digital and digital accessibility and digital inclusion is a challenge to each of us, certainly the digital systems are not static, and the instructions regarding what people need because people are so diverse and the barriers are so diverse, are not simple. And they only I mean as you said, the checklist, the testable items only get to a certain amount of it and it doesn't address the user experience which is also very different.
So, has anyone given thought to what has worked legally? I think in the earlier panel, we heard that only 2% of websites are accessible, and if there is any legislation that's out there, it's web accessibility legislation. So, and of course web accessibility is just the beginning of digital inclusion at the moment. (audio dropped).

I believe there is a session tomorrow morning to talk about some regulations or laws that are put on the books that were put out this summer, so we'll see where that goes. I think the challenge with some laws and regulations is the effect on small businesses as well, so there has to be some way to bridge the gap and support them as well. It's not I think you mentioned this in the beginning, about could platforms manage some of the accessible challenge. You have a lot of platforms out there that small businesses use today that would make it challenging for them because they don't have an entire engineering group that some of the large companies have to be able to support them.

I think one of the biggest barriers we have, at least in the United States, is that accessibility came with labels, so we started with accessibility for people who had low vision or blindness, and then you know we could get some physical stuff in there and then we could get some hearing stuff, and so we created silos of accessibility features rather than thinking we're all human and as to Alana's point, we all function along a continuum and if you're in a really loud environment, you're situationally, you have what we call a situational disability and at that moment in time you maybe can't hear.
But because we have regulated and because we have approach it had in such a labeled manner, I think we have really created more chaos, and you know Jutta knows that I work a lot in cognitive, and don't even get me started on that whole mess of accessibility and what we're working on that.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: And the notion of full accessibility compliance gives us the notion that we're fully compliant when we haven't checked who is missing or.

And also noticed that, gee, is it possible for someone to have a visual impairment and hearing impairment at the same time. I don't know why we never asked that question, but apparently, we haven't.

We only have one disability at a time. (Laughing).

Isn't that interesting. I find that fascinating.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: And then there is, of course, the myth of cost when, you know, that's always the objection that is given that it's going to be too costly to think about all of these different disabilities. I think that one of the things that we've, worked on is to show that in fact you save money by including the people who are most likely to be excluded or have the greatest difficulty with something because your system becomes adaptable and you only need to include individuals that have the greatest difficulty right from the beginning. Right. As you say, to design with those individuals who are going to give you the innovations and not the complacent and satisfied customers who tend to be the persona or the largest customer base.

To Alana's point earlier about designing from the very start, I mean when you factor accessibility in as a forethought rather than an afterthought, the cost of building it in from the beginning as opposed to retrofit, how often have we seen that with design where people are complaining about the retrofit process, where if they had considered it from the beginning and made it part of their workflow from start to finish, it just makes a lot more sense financially and work wise.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Yeah. Definitely. I would claim that retrofitting the digital is not possible. It just propagates and morphs. The minute it is adopted, there is no way that you're going to push that genie back into the box so you have to do it proactively.
Any other lessons that are from our mistakes or failures? Anyone? Maybe we'll move on to what do we do now? So, what are some of the emerging technology some of the technical systems or what risks and opportunities do they bring? We've had a lot of discussions of AI, so just as an example, artificial intelligence is really designed to optimize the statistically or data determined optima of the past and so here is the success model and we're going to try to match the success.
We've learned that disability means we are all the outliers or the small minorities because we are so diverse and the only common real data marker of disability is different, so we are what the systems are not aiming for or what isn't the target.
The systems in essence are actually designed at the moment to discriminate against us, not intentionally, but that is what happens, especially if the system selects people or identifies threats, which is the case in all of the critical decisions, such as who gets hired, who to admit to a competitive academic program, who to give a loan to, who to audit or view as a potential security threat. And AI is great at recognizing the average and translating the average, and so AI applications for people with disabilities are usually used to say, oh, AI is wonderful. We shouldn't be against AI. It tends to be the way to whitewash the ethical issues that occur with AI, and the opportunity in this; however, there is an opportunity and it's because we've agreed that we would talk both about opportunities and risks as we talk about emerging. If we crack this issue, that AI has with disability, we can create and if we create more inclusive AI, then we're also going to create AI systems better able to deal with the unpredictable or complexity and challenges.
Currently, that is a huge problem in the hiring challenge. If we crack this, then we're not going to create companies with mono cultures because the AI selects people like the people that have been successful in the positions in the past. So, there are lots of advantages to addressing this. So, I'd love to ask the panelists, what are other emerging systems, or even you can talk more about AI as well that we need to attend to, and what are the risks and opportunities?

I'll talk about AI if I could. I think there is lots of opportunities to let computers do some things for us and learn how they're doing it. The overlay tools do things like tell you what they think the ALT Text is. They're doing image recognition; they're providing what they think it can do. All the browsers are doing it, the overlays are doing it. Is that a bad thing? No. Is there some level of verification? I look back at security and IT security and there is always some level of verification that it's working. I think that's where the gap comes to play here. We have people that assume that that technology is doing enough for them to complete the task and give them the right information, and maybe it's not.
So, I think when we look at the things that AI is doing, there has to be someone going back and measuring its success, and I'm using this again for ALT Text on images, and it could be more broadly in terms of testing websites and finding the issues and trying to repair them. Who is doing the verification? Then the next question is, does the AI cover all of those standards that we've talked about in WCAG and things like that. If it doesn't, then we need to be clear that it's only a percentage of the issues that exist for compliance.
So, you know, I think what we need to measure back or go back and look at is where is the verification? How do we verify that it's being successful?

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: And to your point as well, the AI is very good at recognizing the average, right, so in voice recognition and image recognition and the semantic markup or whatever it is, it's the average, the top of the bell curve in terms of the dataset that's there, then it works really well. But other languages, other pronunciations, other environments that aren't typical to the trained dataset, and it becomes more difficult.
So, the people that need those systems the most are the ones who are probably not going to benefit from them the most, so it's this ironic inverse relationship.

And potentially dangerous to disabled folks, too. Like myself with a mobility disability, an autonomous vehicle, and crossing the street as a wheelchair user or someone who has maybe, you know, an atypical gate compared to what the AI has learn, they may not recognize me as a person crossing the street and I could be hit by the vehicle. And that has happened in situations, so I mean there is an example of it even beyond the difficulty. This is a threat potentially if there are not some checks and balances for that. I'm more in favor of, you know, there is a lot of potential, obviously, in accessibility with AI, but I am more in favor of a hybrid where there is a human involvement with that, whether it's assisting the AI in providing a more accurate result in a realtime manner. Look at captioning, for example. I mean my colleague Maryl Evans calls automatic captions auto craptions, they're just not as accurate, but if you had someone to monitor it. Look at crowd sourcing as a way to work with that. I'd be really interested in seeing that work.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: That particular anecdote of a person and automated vehicle and someone unexpected, that's an experience that I've often told because I was working with quite a number of early automated vehicle engines, and I gave them an example of someone moving backwards in a wheelchair, and all of them chose to run through the intersection and basically run them over. But the other piece in that is that we frequently are saying that AI will be fixed if we meet the data gap, let's have more data about people with disabilities in all of the dataset when is we're making decisions. But that was the same response that I received from those automated vehicle manufacturers.
But when they came back with more people in wheelchairs in intersections, they actually ran over my friend with greater confidence because the data told them that the average person with a disability moves forward through an intersection. So that the issue is that it isn't just filling the data gap and whatever happens with AI and disability will always be an outlier or small minority. And so if we use the same form of AI that we're using at the moment.
So even full proportional representation within the datasets, the way that the systems function at the moment, is not going to address the issue.

I'm left-handed so I do everything backwards, that's how I do things.

That's not backwards. (Laughing).

We are taking I think it's kind of an interesting approach to this system. So, we're building a social assistive robot, we've been working on it for a long time. The idea of the robot is to provide therapeutic augmentation at home for children with complex cerebral palsy, because they don't get enough repetitions in practice at home if a variety of reasons. We've kind of done an inverse approach where we're actually developing we start with machine learning are, and we're developing a class of course dataset of children with significant disability because their facial expressions do not match or their body pattern movements do not match what we would basically call a typical kid.
So, we've actually built this model, and we're continuing to build it with the idea that we can now recognize when a child who may grimace is actually smiling or happy or whatever, with the goal of creating then and embedding AI into this system so that it can adapt to this individual child. So, N of 1 within this big complex dataset. So, I'm really curious and I'm really optimistic that we'll actually come out with something that we can then say here is a different approach, you know. How replicable, we don't know yet, but I think it's an interesting we have to start looking at this differently. I guess we have to put on different glasses, you know.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: In design, start at the edge.

CATHY BODINE: Yes, and bring it in.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: I think that has a lot of benefits for AI as well.

CATHY BODINE: I do too. We'll see what happens. We're trying.


ALANA BEAL: This is Alana. I'm thinking even from a deaf lens, AI is a game changer for most of us. A lot of times they're developed; for example, there is a lot of new software that's out there, it's in the works quote/unquote, where it's sign language recognition through AI technology, which is very encouraging but it's not going to be perfect. But it does take away the nuances of the language itself, the facial expressions, because ASL and sign language, it includes body language, the facial expressions are very important to process that communication. So with AI, that part is lost. It seems almost like it's animated, but I'm afraid that that's going to eventually take over the role of having a real live sign language interpreter which is very important in my profession and in my personal success.
So, I think it's great. It's a great tool to have, but it's a long way from perfection.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Yeah. And one of the things that is talked about in AI ethics is this issue of privacy, and the current favorite privacy protection is either anonymization at source and you cannot be anonymized if you are highly unique, if you are the only person in a neighborhood ordering colostomy bags, someone will identify you. The other issue is that or the other approach is differentiated privacy which means that the information specific to you is removed from the dataset. What happens then? You're not served by the dataset. So, the actual things that you need will not be part of what is seen as a requirement, so that even the protections for privacy are somewhat of an issue.
Are there other technologies that are emerging? We've heard about metaverse, we've heard about we certainly are looking at cyber currencies, there are many things that are emerging.

So, one of the areas that we spent a lot of time working in our own business is self service. You know, there was this trend that we were going to go backwards after COVID hit that nobody wanted to go up and touch devices anymore. I think it's weird. I think we're somewhat passed that because you're back at the kiosk at airport or restaurants or now people, you know, in the rest of the world when you want to pay a bill, they bring you something to your table and you put your credit card in and you choose to pay, and then they take the machine away and hand you your receipt. They don't take your credit card to the backroom and buy a bunch of stuff online. They just, right, they just do it right there at the table with you.
As we look at the way it's going, we're going to move to touchless self service and how does that work with people with disabilities? We're going to see potentially talking to things out in public rather than just in our homes or just with ourselves, whom we talk to ourselves all day long. So instead of just having these smart home technologies, you're going to go potentially and use a self service device and say I want a cheeseburger and does that then report back that you get a cheeseburger or just report it and charge you. So, does that meet all the requirements of people with disabilities? I so think overall you're going to see an explosion in self service today and the innovation around that is going to be key because there is again, everything from small business is integrating it to large businesses to using text to speech, and speech to text, and self service, does it qualify to have somebody help you versus you do it yourself.
These are all the kind of things that people are discussing in the market, and you'll see the U.S. Access Board has put out some advanced rulemaking on this out in the public right now to review, of course in the U.S. market, but that kind of stuff is going to impact us for a long time going forward. It's no longer just an ATM. There are a lot of other tools we're using; and in fact, I don't think anybody is using an ATM these days. Right.

I'm laughing because I refuse to have a connected refrigerator. I want no one knowing about my Ben Jerry's ice cream.

I was with a client and they were talking about they didn't want the refrigerator connected. I said did you turn off the cameras? She's like cameras? She was like oh, my God. She put tape over the lenses. (Laughing).

We think those are silly and we laugh but we also I'm going to flip this a bit because I told you yesterday, I'm training my engineering students, and I tell them that they literally do not make enough money to pay for my nursing home and they will not be able to afford me when I get old because there is way less of them, and in 2024 there will be more people over 65 than under 18 for the first time in the world's history. And so I literally tell my students, you can't afford me.
So, how are we going to solve these problems? And I think that's the opportunity, but I think we have to engage. We can't sit on the sidelines. I end up at the Consumer Electronic Show every year and one of the things that really drives any nuts is the dissonance between the disability community, AT community, and mainstream technology. They're going for it because they see that 23 trillion dollar a year market in aging. Our voices need to be there. We need to be talking to these mainstream technology companies and really engaging with them. Yes, we have some wonderful people here that care about accessibility, but we're talking about our whole life from autonomous vehicles to the talking refrigerator to the smart home components. We should be engaging, and particularly advocating for user centered design, for really understanding these privacy issues and she's other issues of personalization that are out there.
And I just really want to see more of my friends at CES talking to these companies.

I have a question for you. Did your campus have those self driving coolers that drive the food to the campus to the different dorms? Have you seen these?


They're like the self driving cars, but now they're the coolers rolling around campus and they stop when they see a cane and don't know what to do and probably someone in a wheelchair, right, and you don't have those on campus yet.

CATHY BODINE: Not yet but I can see several fraternities needing the use of that.

You order a pizza and it delivers in a self driving cooler to your dorm.

There was an incident where it locked access on to the sidewalk and caused an accident.

Cars couldn't drive. The students would come and lift it out of the snow. I wanted to speak quickly if we have time along the lines of robotics, that's an area that I'm really excited about, just the continued development of assistive robotics but as in telepresence robots and particularly in light of the pandemic, I think the idea of telepresence and allowing people to participate remotely and have a virtual presence there via, for example, a screen on the robot that projects their face and their voice and allows them to participate, and often times move around in an environment from their own home, you know, controlling the robot from their own home.
And for folks with significant disabilities or immunocompromised or anything else it opens up a lot of opportunities, including employment as these robots become more capable to be able to do things in another environment but controlled by the disabled person in their own home or wherever they can. Yeah. I'm excited about that.
The last thing was just the maker, the maker movement. I think particularly with 3D printing, it is opening up a lot of opportunities for disabled folks to show our ability as to kind of hack our environment and come up with innovative designs that we can share with our peers and with others in a way that is kind of this, you know, micro manufacturing approach.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: One thing, and I don't know if you check out Pebbles, back in what was it, in the early 90s, we created a teleconference robot that was to be a stand in in the classroom for kids who had to be in rehab facilities for a long period of time or were separated. And it even had a little hand that you could raise, and the kids were able to move it until somebody decided to run at a friend who so we had to disable the remote driving of the system. But it's funny how things go around all the time.
And I'm conscious, and I mean we could probably talk much more, but one thing that I would love to touch on because we talked a little bit about cognitive access was the area of identity management, and how many people who don't have a barrier respect to passwords have a barrier respect to passwords, and certainly from a cognitive access perspective, it would be amazing if we did edge and design on identity management and security and cybersecurity. And I know that Cathy has a lot to say about that.
But I'm going to go to our last question and I think we'll use this as sort of the closing remarks from the panelists before we go to questions from the audience, and that is how has the technology ecosystem changed over the past decade? And does that mean we should adapt our technology approaches? Do our policies, advocacy messages, inclusion strategies need to adapt and change given all of the changes that have happened?

So, I'm going to forget how far I think it's been a little over a decade. We used to buy our software at Best Buy or at a store in a box. Right. Who remembers getting Windows and Office
right. It was in a box. Right. In fact, our company used to ship a CD. In fact, we can't no, we can't ship you a CD anymore. But like that's the way we used to get things, and your updates would come, I don't know, maybe once every couple of years, if that. Your browser didn't update. I mean we went 30 years with Internet Explorer to get the number 11. Right. I don't know. Was it 30 years? Something like that. Felt like it. Right.
So, if you look at it from that perspective, the impact to the community and the impact to the industry, I think at the very beginning there was a talk about interoperability and its way more complex than just operating systems and AT. It's browsers, its productivity suites, and there has got to be people managing and supporting all of that, and it's a rollercoaster today because every, I don't know, every couple of weeks you get an update to the browser and zero day something you got to update, and something else changed. Same with your productivity suite. It's modernizing. You turn on the computer and the box is on this side instead of that side, and I pointed left and then right, I think, if I remember the left and right. But to you guys it's right and then left. I'm sorry.
So, those challenges in the assistive technology, the impact to our consumers, broadly with people with disabilities, has been huge. There has been great strides, you look at all the technology in terms of auto captioning we heard, Windows 11 has captioning built into the operating system in the latest release without the Internet. I mean that's pretty cool. I mean those kind of things are really cool seeing all of that technology, but there is also impacts to it because of how fast technology is rolling out. It's called agile development; it's really changed things.


CATHY BODINE: Yeah. I think, yes. Yes. It's changed, and I totally agree with everything that you just said. I think the other thing that where the ecosystem, I think where we can have if you will, to put a wobble in the system is that we need to become much more sophisticated in how we address these advocacy challenges.
I think we have some tried and true strategies and that we have slugged it out over all of these years and gotten where we've gotten, but I think we also need to take advantage of social media. We need to take advantage of these tools and this ecosystem we live in today in order to advocate in a way that gets heard. I don't think the old-style way we did it is as effective as it was 20 years ago, and I think we really need to upgrade our approach to advocacy. And I honestly think a big key to that is this aging demographic, because everybody wants a piece of that. And in order to address those challenges, we need to think about how can we advocate in a way that's like, this is just the way it has to be because this is what's happening in our world.
We need to get much more sophisticated, and we need to train you know, we do leadership training and advocacy training for people with disabilities at my university, and you know we're really discussing, how do we change that model, of how do we teach people with disabilities, just like we teach people without disabilities to become leaders and to become self advocates for whatever is your cause, right. It's all the same. We need to get smarter. I think that's our opportunity, and I'd love to see that challenge picked up by this group.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Certainly, I mean added to that challenge is the fact that things like inclusive design have become the buzz word, the trend, but it's very performative and it's very superficial, quite often. So how do we distinguish between true, deep inclusive design practice or accessibility practice versus the much more performative P R washing types of activities that are going on. I'm sorry.

CATHY BODINE: I agree. We have to flip this. Right.


ALANA BEAL: I would say DEI has been a buzz word as well in our industry. Diversity, equity, and inclusion. And Howard had said earlier this morning that when you look at accessible, it's really a significant impact to the overall user experience. So with that, you know, I guess I would just reiterate what I said earlier, just to make sure that you include the disabled individuals at the very start before you even get to the drawing board. Get those people on board throughout the entire process, and then you'll have the great finished product. That's really going to make the accessibility part for your company, for your business, just really it makes it a strategy and makes everyone's life a lot easier, and everyone will be able to use your solution.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: It's not to check off five different disability types and then include five types of persona, but really think about who are the people who face the greatest barriers with what we're designing here and who is missing here at this design table to help us to frame the problem to help us figure out what the challenge is. That's great. Thank you, Alana. John?

JOHN LEE: Sure. Again, piggy backing on what Alana said. I think involving people with disabilities at the beginning, and also encouraging and supporting people with disabilities in getting into this digital accessibility and inclusive design field so they are and so we are the leaders and actively playing a role and assistive the industry and including us from the beginning. And that includes just diverse members of the disability community. I mean as you mentioned about multiply marginalized individuals can give the best insights on the difficulties, folks from different races, gender, sexual orientation, and disability, different socioeconomic levels, different you know, parts of the country, education levels, that diversity of users involved in testing is going to give us the truest example of some of the barriers that come up and how to solve those. Those folks are the ones best suited to solve them.
I think just the way with we're all we have multiple devices now that we're carrying around, our smart watch, phone, laptop, tablet, streaming services left and right, we have so many things that are available to us on demand, and I think making sure accessibility, too, is more and more available on demand and more transparent for folks to find what they need.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Great. It's never complete. (Laughing). That's the other thing I think that we need to change, this notion of success that we've finished and that we fixed it. These are not always fixable things. The situations change and challenges emerge. Alana, you wanted to add?

ALANA BEAL: I was going to add more to his comment as well. I would say don't invite the person with a disability as a token to the table. You know, make them part of the team. They have something to bring to your organization. Hire them, employ them. They will make a significant impact to you at the present.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Yeah. And compensate lived experience as experience. That is a valuable expertise. It isn't something that someone should do for tare own benefit per se. They should be recognized and compensated.


JUTTA TREVIRANUS: Great. Thank you for that point, Alana. So, we have 5 minutes and 20 seconds left for some questions from the audience. Yeah. So, we have people with microphones.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Olivia Norman and I'm trying to get back into the accessibility field after getting laid off as a person with lived experience. I live here in DC. The question I have is how do we get from where we are now, which is here is a training a bunch of people that are maybe web developers or don't have the lived experience that those of us do. How do we get from where we are now to a place where our experience is valued and appreciated and where people want us on their teams?

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: That's a great question. Anyone specifically?

I'll take a stab at it. Thank you for that question. It's a brilliant reflection. I think it goes back to my conversation a few minutes ago about we have to change how we advocate and how we approach business. You know, Jutta and I were laughing that there was a guy in the AT field, Gerald Harris and some of you have may remember him. But back in 1987 he had a quote that was AT is not a religious experience, it is a business. Some of you may remember that quote. I've never forgotten that. So, if we're approaching industry as an example and wanting to convince them to incorporate people with disabilities into the design, development, experience, we need to approach them from a language, strategy, and structure then.
This isn't about poor people with disabilities. This is about human beings with a wealth of experience and knowledge who can help you make a lot more money. It's a business model. I think we have to approach industry in a way that they can understand and value. More importantly value what you bring to the table.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: And from a research perspective, certainly I think we need to rethink what we think of as metrics or measurement, evidence, and proof. Because all of it goes back to the average, which of course is hampering us. So, if you think of someone with disability experience as someone that has explored that unknown terrane, the area that no one has really fully covered, so as an individual that knows the risks better than anyone and probably also knows the innovations that we haven't actually tested out or haven't implemented. I think there is it's a complex problem, and thank you for that question.
I have showing here 2 minutes and 8 seconds. I'm hearing a 0 over there.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello. I promise quick. President of Estonian Blind Union, some of those self driving coolers come from Estonia. I'm sorry about that. But I actually have this question, which I kind of bump into a lot, and I'm quite new to the accessibility advocacy and expertise world. How do you get behind WCAG and all the standards? Because I see this a lot when companies say, yes, we're happy to work to conform with WCAG and whatever standards we have, but how do you make them realize that accessibility can be much, much more and it can be interesting and fun for all users, giving away, or giving the users the same experiences or same values of what the company does give with its, for example, visual design. Thank you.

If I could take this one. When I've done teaching, the one thing I don't do is a WCAG class. I'm not talking about a screen reader when I say WCAG. I'm sorry, guys. WCAG. When I teach those classes, I do, you know, I would do personal experience stuff and it drives it home way better. So, an example would be, you know, put somebody through an experience where don't let them leave their seat but blindfold them and have them tell you what different objects are. Say this is the same as me not having something labeled on the web because they couldn't figure out what was the shampoo bottle and soap bottle and I have to call down to the front desk and ask which is shampoo tonight. The same experience, right. So, you give them that experience and it drives home and then you tie it back to elements in digital accessibility, and it's easier to help communicate it that way. If you do it from a, you better do 1.1.1 or 2.4.1, you know, you just get blurry eyed at some point and say okay these are just standards and requirements. Help them understand the user.

JUTTA TREVIRANUS: And with that, unfortunately, we have run out of time. Thank you to our panelists.
What a great set of experiences.

FRANCESCA CESA BIANCHI: Thank you, Jutta and panelists. Thank you very much. We're just taking a half hour or 30 minute break, and then we'll be please back sharply at 4:15 for the start of the new panel discussion on Smart Connected Mobility Solutions. Thank you.

This text, document, or file is based on live transcription. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law.

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