I recently attended the California State University Northridge (CSUN) conference on technology for persons with disabilities, at the airport Marriott in Los Angeles. I did not register, so I didn’t get to sit in on any of the sessions, but I had a great time in the exhibitor’s hall checking out all of the latest and greatest technology designed to help people with disabilities, as well as schmoozing with all the wonderful people behind the products. Although my main interest was in the area of web accessibility, I was overall very impressed with all of the technology being offered, from a phone that would read whatever text you took a picture of, to a range of overhead projector looking devices that scan what you place on them and read it back to you like this one (made by Larity):
to giant embossers like these:
that print braille.
As for my main objective of seeing what’s new in web accessibility, I was introduced to the W3C’s new ARIA guidelines (Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite) for web applications. As expected these guidelines are pretty complicated, so it will definitely take some time to get familiar with them. The state of Illinois has some laws that go above and beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act called the “Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act,” and the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champain was there offering info pamphlets and a Firefox tool bar that can help ensure that a website meets accessibility standards.
Speaking of Firefox they were there too!
Promoting all the new accessibility features that will be rolled out in Firefox 3.
I really enjoyed my time at the conference and I am really looking forward to seeing more web accessibility developments in the future.