Austria conference on access technology
My first day was hanging out at the Young Researchers seminar, which was organized by Professors Paul Blenkhorn (the UK's first professor of access tech) and the ICCHP host Klaus Miesenberger. It was fun to hear students and fresh Ph.Ds talking about their research.
I gave the opening keynote, on my main new theme, Raising the Floor. The goal is to get more people working to make this happen: getting access tech to every person in the world who needs it. People from all over Europe talked to me about their dreams for improved accessibility. And, there were many projects that definitely fell under the RTF umbrella. I met the developer behind WebVisum, which is getting much attention from blind people for its ability to make CAPTCHAs (those annoying squiggly words you have to type to access many websites) accessible. I met a professor from Portugal who had a student who developed EasyVoice, software that makes it possible for someone who cannot speak to use Voice over IP via Skype to talk to people using a voice synthesizer. And that's just two examples.
I spread the word that Bookshare.org is now available to people outside the United States, albeit with only 3,000 copyrighted books today instead of 35,000, because we need to get permission from publishers and authors to share their books outside the U.S. I'm hoping to have new Bookshare.org users from many new countries as a result of my visit there.
I got into a spirited debate with a Norwegian researcher about a paper entitled something like "Is DAISY Universally Designed?" Her conclusion was no, and her research was well done. But, I felt like her conclusion was really that the way that DAISY solutions are implemented in Norway (and just about everyplace else today) are not universally designed, not that the DAISY standard itself was the problem. The main issue she identified was that people with disabilities like dyslexia are not well served by the current generation of DAISY players, and she is completely correct. But, the DAISY Consortium doesn't design the players. We're working with assistive tech vendors to make a better player for dyslexic students, and we expect the DAISY standard to work great for these students as part of Bookshare for Education.
I took tons of pictures at the conference and at the post-conference visit to the villages, ice-caves and mountains of the region around Linz: the Dachstein. I posted these on my Flickr site with creative commons licenses (of course)!