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I have attended Empower 2018 – Assistive Technology Conference hosted by Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi from 25th to 27th October, 2018. Here is a recap of the conference.
Empower 2018 has been kicked off by Prof. Balakrishnan of IIT Delhi. In his address, he has welcomed all the participants, speakers, partners, sponsors and volunteers.
Then, Dr. TV Raman of Google Research has delivered his keynote where he talked about eyes-free communication access, revolution of technology over the years and what it could be in the days to come. It’s amazing to to know Dr. Raman is an alumni of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1984.
Next there was a panel of speakers talking about accessible CAPTCHA solutions, inclusive interfaces. There was also talk about 6 by 6 app by BarrierBreak. In one of the talks, National Institute of Speech and Hearing has talked about how they leverage on technologies to communicate. One of the example is they leverage on WhatsApp web to communicate with people who are hard of hearing. Other method they do is use Google docs to communicate using text while a meeting is happening. One person will type live and someone else keep editing the same.
Exhibition was awesome. It’s great to see a lot of products from IIT Madras including affordable note takers, Tactile printers etc., Saksham’s experience zone is just amazing where they showcased MI’s 32″ Television that is fully accessible, folder chess board, audio games, talking BP meter, and much more!
Here are photos from the Empower 2018
Overall, it has been a great conference and I look forward to attending more of such events. I would also like to see it happening in different parts of the country.
Most of us uses Google applications such as Google docs, Google sheets, Google slides and they are far more easier to work and collaborate with others using the cloud.
So far, if we want to create a new document, new sheet or new slide deck; we need to open respective application and choose “new”.
With the recent service by Google, there is a much easier way to do it. Just type something like doc.new, document.new, sheets.new, slides.new and you will get it loaded. Of course, if you are not already logged into any Google services, it may prompt you to sign-in.
It was followed by talks by four of the inmates who have just completed Mobility Training at The NAB Karnataka. They have explained their experience using white cane and how they are able to move with more independence. All of them have mentioned white cane remains important tool along with other aids and appliances.
Then Ajeesh, Ram and Raghu of IBM Accessibility Team have shared their experiences as to how mobility plays a key role in work environment. They urged inmates to gain self-confidence and build aptitude to acceptany challenge.
They have also talked about key skills that one needs to build a successful career. I have got an opportunity to address the gathering during which I have acknowledged efforts put in by Raghu’s mother who have made sure Raghu lives with independence. She takes him to all pilgrim places and explain everything in detail. We really need such motivational parents.
Then inmates who have completed their mobility training were awarded with a certificate and a white cane.
11th October, 2018 was fabulous day for Bangalore. Intuit hosted their 6th Annual Accessibility Summit in their Bangalore office.
Summit has began with energiser by Prarthana, Co-founder of GiftAbled. Then summit was kicked off Ted Drake, Sanket and Somnath (leadership of Intuit) India.
First talk is by Bala from Google (ex-Intuit) talked about Next billion users where he talked how “voice” become more popular as an input method. He has also explained how much important the accessibility for Google’s new billion project.
Soon after a short break, I have delivered by Inclusive Design 24 talk on Building Accessible Websites with WordPress. I have started my talk with a brief introduction to myself, a little about WordPress, reasons as to why I would prefer to use wordpress as a platform, problem statement from accessibility prospective, talked about how one should choose themes from WordPress, my favorite plug-ins and finally some thoughts an author should consider while building websites with WordPress. In case you have missed mine and/or any other Inclusive Design24 talks, head over to Inclusive Design 24’s YouTube Channel and you will be able to listen to all of the talks.
Then we left for lunch break! Food was tasty and awesome conversation with Prarthana… Oh, yes I had desert twice!! (Blame Prarthana, if it’s against rules :-))
After having great lunch, again Prarthana did another energizer to make sure all of the participants are awake and that started first afternoon session with a panel discussion on “Accessible Life Style in Tech environment” moderated by Prateek Kaul, Co-founder of GiftAbled. During this panel, Aleena from Intuit did a demo of and Android keyboard they have created and intend to open source at some point. This keyboard can be used will have a single button interface. Other panelists Hatim from Cisco and Madhumitha from Coco cola shared their experiences in their diversity and inclusion journey. Final panelist Rajarajeswari, Founder of Arteius spoke about technologies they are building in the health care sector.
Then Sunil Jain, Founder Trustee and Chief Enabler of Astha spoke about importance and accessibility in sports. He has discussed about challenges faced while entering in the area of sports. He has rightly pointed out how children of today are not getting opportunity to play sport thus unable to develop power of thinking. He urges irrespective child having disability or not, everyone should be given an opportunity to play.
Next panel is about Accessibility achievements, challenges and opportunities; again moderated by Prateek. In this panel, Basavaraju, Commissioner, Persons with Disabilities, Government of Karnataka spoke about what accessibility means to him and what role his department should play for inclusion. Other panelists are Apoorv Kulkarni, Accessibility Lead at Ola, Siddhant Shah, Founder of Access for All and Krishna Kumar, Programme Manager (Accessibility & Technology) of GiftAbled. Each of them spoke about efforts put in by each of them to ensure inclusion both for their internal employees and customers.
In the final session, Krish Srikant, VP of Customer Strategy, Prakat Solutions spoke about Autism at work: Exploring new opportunities for employment & services. He has talked about work that Prakat is doing in this area in Denver.
Whole summit was anchored by Chandrasekhar, Talent Acquisition team member of Intuit. Fabulous inclusion T-shirts and goodies were distributed. Those goodies are crafted by people with disabilities and promoted by GiftAbled.
Then we all have left for Bangalore Accessibility Awareness Dinner hosted by Intuit. It’s great to see a lot of new people this time. A fantastic networking and of course great food!
All photo credits in this post goes to Prarthana and Ted!
Tomorrow (11th October, 2018) at 11:30am (Indian Standard Time – GMT+5:30), I’ll be speaking at Inclusive Design 24 and the topic is “Building Accessible Websites using WordPress”. While we are currently discussing about accessibility issue with new editor of wordpress, platform is still better from accessibility prospective and I’m sure accessibility issues for the editor would go away soon.
Here is how you can join my talk:
If you are in attending Intuit Accessibility Summit in Bangalore, you will join this talk in person.