Tag Archives: Deque Systems

30-Second Sponsor Feature: Deque Systems

In a different type of 30-Second Interview, we’d like to introduce you to the Platinum Sponsor of the 2012 John Slatin AccessU, Deque Systems. Deque not only boasts a long-time commitment to accessibility and a great love for Knowbility, but the company’s dynamic team includes some great accessibility experts and evangelists with deep ties to our organization: Paul Adam, Glenda Sims, and Karl Groves- just to name a few!

Deque Systems Logo

Tell us a little bit about Deque Systems, and how the company got its start.

Deque Systems is a web and software accessibility company that works with major government agencies, educational institutions, small and mid-size businesses, and Fortune 500 companies to eliminate the risk associated with their customer-facing digital properties being inaccessible to handicapped users.

We were founded in 1999, and our first accessibility tool was a product called RAMP for testing static sites back in the days of HTML3. The company has grown very rapidly in the 10 years since RAMP was introduced, and the product has since been replaced with FireEyes and Worldspace Sync which were developed to address the challenges of the jungle of modern, dynamic web content.

When did you first get connected with Knowbility?

Years ago!  Sometime in 2007.

Why do you love Knowbility?

We love Knowbility’s mission and commitment to its mission. Deque share’s Knowbility’s dedication to making technology accessible and helping the disabled to live with the level of independence enjoyed by able-bodied users. Knowbility also does an excellent job training people and educating them about accessibility.

You’re coming back to AccessU as our top sponsor for the second year in a row – why did you decide to support the John Slatin AccessU again this year?

We see no reason to stop now!  AccessU is exactly the kind of event we want to encourage and support. And I know our employees who will be in attendance are excited about a number of programs at this year’s event, including offerings on mobile accessibility, rich internet applications, and the fully accessible evening at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar.

 

We are so grateful to Deque CEO Preety Kumar and the rest of the Deque leadership team for their ongoing support of Knowbility and our programs. Visit their website at www.deque.com, follow them on Twitter (@dequesystems), and check out all the presentations by the Deque team at AccessU next week:

Sponsors of the 2012 John Slatin AccessU

We’d like to take a moment to thank the sponsors for the upcoming John Slatin AccessU here in sunny Austin, TX. It is an honor to have the support of these incredible companies and organizations as we work together toward a more inclusive technology world!

Platinum

Deque Systems

Gold

St. Edward's University

Silver

Freedom Scientific

Bronze

Adobe Systems

Copper

Eventida           Loop11

PLUS! Want to win a free pass to the conference? Deque Systems, our platinum sponsor, is giving one away! Register to win online:

Deque AccessU Giveaway

Knowbility Takes SXSW by Storm & Announces Winners of AIR!

It’s a Friday in Austin. By any regards, it’s just another day in just another city. In fact, if you walked through downtown today, you would have no idea that little more than a week ago, one of the world’s largest trio of festivals flooded the streets with geeks, movie buffs, and music lovers alike. Knowbility was right in the midst of the chaos – taking the South by Southwest (SXSW) world by storm with our message of accessibility and having a blast doing it!

The 2012 Dewey Ceremony & AIR-Interactive Awards

To start with, we hosted an official SXSW party on March 11th. If you know anything about SXSW, you know why that word “official” is emphasized. It’s a BIG DEAL. But let’s be real – the bigger deal is the reason we hosted the party in the first place: announcing the winners of the 2012 AIR-Interactive/AIR-Austin Competition and introducing the Dewey Winburne honorees for contributions to society through interactive media.

The AIR-Interactive/AIR-Austin Winners

Seven teams competed earlier this spring in an intense race to accessibility. You might have read about the program, and the incredible teams that participated in our post-rally blog post. So who won? Everybody did – you just can’t beat participating in AIR! But since we had official judges, we probably should have official winners, and they are:

Team Unchain My Art
Formula One winners Unchain My Art from MicroAssist

Formula One Division (Accessibility+Advanced Features)

1st Place: Unchain My Art, designing for The Austin Jazz Alliance
2nd Place: The Headspring Hurwitzes, designing for Texas TERA

 Stock Car Division (Basic Accessibility)

1st Place: Team TradeMark, designing for All Blind Children of Texas
2nd Place: Team Fahrenheit, designing for Phronesis Media

Team TradeMark
Team TradeMark takes First Place in Stock Car

Honorable Mentions

The Drupalistas, designing for Austin Speech Labs
The Access Austin Crew, designing for ADAPT of Texas
Team Enchantment, designing for The Independent Living Resource Center of New Mexico

Congratulations to everyone who competed – you are all champions, and your work for accessibility goes far beyond the Rally!

Accessible Internet Rally Will be Held in October

If you didn’t participate in this spring’s program, you’ll have another opportunity in October, when we bring the AIR-Austin rally back to its traditional timing – during Disability Awareness Month. As we announced following the awards, Rich Schwerdtfeger, Chief Technology Officer for Accessibility at IBM Software Group  will chair the fall program!

2012 Dewey Winburne Awards

Judy Brewer
Judy Brewer leads the Web Accessibility Initiative at the W3C and was awarded Dewey Winburne recognition

Local musicians Mother Falcon (silently accompanied by the ASL stylings of LotuSign) provided the background for a brief intermission at the party, and then the rest of the evening was dedicated to honoring the winners of the 2012 Dewey Winburne Awards. Dewey was a co-founder of SXSW Interactive, and a man dedicated to changing the digital landscape in Austin through his work with technology and youth.

Those awards,presented by SXSW itself, honor the work of 10 individuals from around Austin, the US, and even the world. The award recognizes contributions made by social activists using technology to change their communities. More about the honorees  can be seen in a great post about the Dewey Awards on the SXSW website.

 

Teresa Ferguson
Teresa Ferguson, former Dewey winner herself, emceed the awards party

Many thanks go out to Theresa Ferguson, who emceed the program, and did a fantastic job of introducing the awardees and moving the ceremony along. Theresa is not only a former participant in AIR, she helped to inspire the AIR-Interactive Awards, and she’s even a past Dewey Nominee!

Thank you also to everyone who came out to support the work of our fantastic Accessibility Internet Rally teams and the Dewey Award winners! Your enthusiasm and energy overflowed the room!

The SXSW Trade Show (aka, SWAG-a-palooza 2012)

sleep masks printed with "Wake Up to Accessibility" You’d think that after the party was over, we’d all get to relax and enjoy the festival, but there’s just no slowing down at Knowbility – instead, we were back downtown the next morning to welcome the first attendees at the annual SXSW Trade Show. We had a huge booth, like we always do, and had the opportunity to tell people from all around the world about accessibility.

Our “Wake Up to Accessibility” sleep masks were a huge hit – and were featured in a “best of SXSW SWAG” twitter post!

We also invited visitors to get off their feet, relax, and peruse the work of our teams, helping to select the People’s Choice Award Winner for AIR. We are pleased to announce that Team TradeMark has taken home the prize, a gift card for Parkside Restaurant in Downtown Austin, graciously donated by the restaurant itself!

Even more, the Knowbility booth featured demonstrations in using the JAWS screen reading software by Jeanine Lineback. Talks by Knowbility supporters and sponsors from Deque Systems, Adobe, Paciello Group, and the W3C highlighted issues and new developments in accessibility.

Speaking of sponsors, we want to thank them! Without their support, none of this would be possible!

Deque Systems LogoCity of Austin LogoAdobe LogoThe Paciello Group LogoAustin Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities LogoNew Horizons LogoMicroAssist LogoSt. Edwards University Logo

 

And a special thanks goes out to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, who not only sponsored the 2012 Dewey Ceremony & AIR-Interactive Awards, but published a great article to highlight the Dewey Awardees.

Phew! It was a great week and now we are taking all the cool stuff we learned and will hope to share it with you at AccessU in May – see you then!

A modest list of accessibility events at SXSWi

Two themes continued to surface during this last glorious week spent with the accessibility tribe at the CSUN Conference on Assistive Technology.  One has to do with professionalization of the field and the other with communication to those other than the initiated. I can’t think of a better place than SXSWi to move the ball forward on both of these themes. So…inspired by The Great Big List of 2012 CSUN sessions, I compiled a list of accessibility related topics and activities that will be featured in the midst of the madness that is SXSW Interactive next week.

The modest list

There are more than 5000 events and sessions at the SXSW conference, so I know I have missed some.  Please use the comments below to add to this list anything that I have overlooked and if you need accommodation while attending SXSW, they have information posted.

Friday March 9

Popping Your Bubble: Stories of the Digital Divide

2 pm at the Sheraton Austin.  Tales of people with marginal access, primarily people of color and those in rural settings. Accessibility advocates might attend and draw parallels with disability.

The Future of Access to Digital Broadcast Video

5 pm in the Austin Convention Center (ACC), Room 9ABC. This should be a great discussion of why online video needs to be accessible too. Experts, including Andrew Kirkpatrick, Glenn Goldstein, Otto Berkes, and Shane Feldman will discuss challenges and share processes.

Saturday, March 10

AT&T Mobile Hackathon

This is an all-day event that requires pre-registration and will award up to $46K in prizes.  There is not a word about accessibility in any of their promo, so perhaps an accessibility coder can crash the party and capture the flag?

Accessible HTML 5 Canvas? Really? How?

At the Radisson Town Lake at 11:00 am to 12 noon.  A workshop format to teach technical details of how to create an accessible HTML DOM structure, tie it to the visible Canvas surface, and more.  With Charles Pritchard, Cynthia Shelly, David Bolter, Richard Schwerdtfeger, big brains all.

Accessibility MeetUp

Come to the Hilton Austin Downtown, Room 615AB at 12:30 pm for a meet and greet with SXSW attendees who are interested in accessibility from newbies to greybeards. Knowbility is organizing so there will be fun as well as tons of resources.

Sunday March 11

Will Accessibility Rain on Your Cloud Parade?

At 11:00 at the Hilton Garden Inn Elizabeth Woodward, a Senior Software Engineer with the IBM Research Human Ability and Accessibility Center will take a look at the additional thought and planning needed for accessibility success in the context of cloud computing.

Time to choose:  At 3:30 on Sunday we are presented with a trifecta and I don’t know how to advise you to choose your first, second, and third.  Maybe you can buddy up and draw straws with your friends.

Designing for Awareness in the Attention Economy

At 3:30 at the Stephen F Austin Hotel, usability specialists Brian Sullivan and Taylor Cowan consider how to get the attention of different types of users, including users with disability.

Demystifying the Future of the Web and Apps

Also at 3:30, at the Radisson Town Lake Paul Trani of Adobe leads an advanced workshop that includes CSS, HTML5 and how to balance media strengths and weaknesses for success in the world of mobile and progressive enhancement.

Preserving the Creative Culture of the Web

Also at 3:30 in the ACC, Room 9ABC, this presentation by Jason Scott, Kari Kraus, Nick Hasty considers accessibility of digital content over time as technology changes.

Dewy Winburne Community Service Honorees

Here in the Austin Convention Center, Room 8A is another event starting at 3:30.  But this one runs until 6:00 pm.  If you attend a previously mentioned  3:30 session, you can still get by to network with, learn from, and be inspired by the honorees for the 2012 Dewey Winburne Community Service Award. And you will especiallywant to attend to cheer for Judy Brewer who leads the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the W3C and is one of the Dewey honorees.

AIR-Interactive and Dewey Awards Party

At 6:00 pm, winners of the 2012 Accessibility Internet Rally AIR-Austin/AIR-Interactive awards will share the stage with the 2012 Dewey Award winners and music by Mother Falcon. Badges not needed at the St David’s Episcopal Church event center.

Monday March 12

On Monday, the trade show booths are opened, including Knowbility’s SXSW Accessibility Center.  Come by all day for demos of assistive technology, updates from the Web Accessibility Initiative of the W3C, and talks on trending accessibility topics by Knowbility partners from Deque Systems, the Paciello Group, MicroAssistAdobe and St Edward’s University .

Few of the break-out sessions on Monday have direct reference to accessibility, but my interest in the intersection of disability and the arts made me look at this one and I plan to drop in.

Performance and Technology: Keeping Arts Alive

At the ACC in Room 12AB a panel of artists and technologists including  Alyce Myatt, Asa Kalama, Beth Burns, Conor Roche, and Robert Matney explore the interaction of media, technology, and performance art.  Knowbility has collaborated for years with VSA Texas to produce fully accessible performance events (SightSoundSoul) and I am eager to see if and how disability is integrated into this discussion.

Tuesday March 13

How the iPad Can Save Accessibility

At 9:30 am Marty DeAngelo of Digitas Health presents his ideas on how to use new devices to make user experience even better than on the “old web.”

Transforming Social Media for the Senior Community

Also at 9:30 in the Omni Hotel ballroom, Brian Lang of Seniors In Touch talks about designing for all, inclusive design to reach the growing segment of the population over 65.  There is  significant overlap between the needs of  those with disability.

Beyond a Thousand Words: Accessible Complex Data

At 11:00 head back to the Convention Center, Room 10AB for what I expect to be an informative talk by IBM Research AbilityLab’s Susann Keohane and Brian Cragun.  They will describe their research considering how to render real time data analytics in accessible formats.  They will share some of the accessibility challenges of charts, large datasets, and node diagrams and some techniques to make them more accessible and usable by people with disabilities.

Breaking Down Walls, a Decentralised Social Web? 

At 12:30 Evan Prodromou leads a panel in Ballroom BC at the ACC to consider the closong of the web. Even though the web is founded on open, decentralized principles and accessible, non- proprietary technology, the trend for closed systems seems to be growing. No one owns e-mail, usenet or http, but proprietary social services seem to be moving away from openness. How to fix?

Flash: F Bomb or Da Bomb?

Another 12:30 option is this panel of developers giving their perspective on whether Flash technology is he Holy Grail of interactive web design or the virtual thorn in their web experience. In ACC Room AB with Aubrey Gross, David Greene, Kristine Schachinger, Phillip Gross.

The Semantic Web Has Gone Mainstream! Wanna Bet?

Core Conversations have become a favorite part of the conference, where you can get small groups of people with shared interest to give diverse perspectives.  This one will be held in the Hilton Austin Downtown in Room 616AB and led by Juan Sequeda of UT and Peter Mika of Yahoo.

Your mission – should you choose to accept it

Well, I said it was a modest list and out of some 5000 events, it is not huge.  Still it is a considerable commitment if you try to provide all that support by yourself.  So please spread the love, attend those of most interest, tell others about them and if you are not at SXSW this year, tell your friends who are here.  Ask accessibility questions at other sessions, too – let’s show support and keep accessibility as a topic and as an integral part of other tech talks.

I was greatly influenced to write this list by events at CSUN last week.  Some of that genesis is here:

 Accessibility as an IT profession

Knowbility took a skeptical position before the CSUN conference on the need for an autonomous, separate accessibility professional association.  But it was clear from the response at the CSUN conference that even skeptics felt that something was needed to change the perceptions that mainstream developers and technologists have about accessibility. SXSW is one of the largest technology conferences in the world and there is an openness to accessibility there that allows great conversations about how to integrate accessibility professionalism into overall best practices.  Knowbility will have a large booth that we have dubbed the SXSW Accessibility Center this year. We will be evangelizing the reality that “good design IS accessible design” and we invite participation from those who want to share resources and techniques at the booth.  Call Knowbility and talk to Carolyn Gibbs.

Web Accessibility Community Collaboration

On Wednesday at the CSUN conference I was part of a web accessibility community collaboration panel discussion that generated tons of great ideas from attendees around using existing resources and recognizing different levels of engagement and expertise to broaden the community of accessibility practice.  You can read much of the brainstorming by looking for the Twitter hashtag #wacol (pronounced in my mind, way cool!).  One idea that swirled around and around was that when accessibility topics show up at mainstream conferences, we need to promote them! attend them! create a buzz about them!

Hence, this list.  Please let me know if it is useful, if you attend any of these sessions, and about others you find next week.  Onward!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Thatcher receives Lifetime Achievement Award at the 26th Annual CSUN Conference

Collage of photos showing Jim Thatcher as an incomparable accessibility leader, teacher, advocate and friend.

Nearly 200 people gathered to recognize Jim Thatcher‘s unparalleled contributions to technology access on May 17th at the CSUN Conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.  The occasion was an award from Jim’s peers to honor a life dedicated to ensuring technology access for people with disabilities.  Leading accessibility advocates and practitioners led by Preety Kumar, CEO of Deque Systems,  came together to share stories and remembrances of working with Jim.  People talked of how they had been influenced by Jim’s brilliance, his passion and his deep commitment to equal technology rights for all.

Rich Schwerdtfeger started the tributes with a remembrance of Jim’s work at IBM.  His touching account of how Jim’s work developing pioneering screenreader and other assistive technology for blind users at IBM, had seminal influence on Rich’s own career and his dedication to the cause of technology equality.  And Rich made it clear that Jim’s ability to inspire others was an key element in IBMs leadership position in accessible technology.  From the  very first screenreader technology through developing internal accessibility guidelines to HomePage Reader, Rich spoke of his pride in being part of Jim’s team.

I got to speak next about Jim’s post-IBM career – about his leadership as Vice-Chair of the Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee (EITAAC) that wrote the standards for Section 508; about the course he wrote on Web Accessibility for Section 508 for ITTATC; about his work as an expert witness in the Target and Amazon cases and as an advisor to the NY Attorney General’s office regarding Priceline and Ramada Inn.  But mostly I spoke about Jim’s inspiration at the grassroots level, about his work to make the Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) such a vibrant way to pass the accessibility torch to the next generation of web professionals.

As young developers sign up to compete in AIR and realize that they will be trained and their entry might be judged by Jim Thatcher (!), it connects them to web accessibility far beyond legal mandates or questions of compliance.  I got to speak of the mighty band of Judge Brothers – Jim Thatcher, Jim Allan and John Slatin who guided the program development for so many years.

Jim is unfailingly generous with his time and his knowledge.  His passion is contagious and he infuses many with his fervent advocacy.  After IBM, Jim influenced young developers who took some of that dedication with them in their accessibility work for Apple, Google, Frog Design and many many other companies.

I told the story of meeting Kareem Dale, special assistant to the President on Disability issues and how, when he learned I was from Austin, Kareem’s first question was “Do you know Jim Thatcher?”

Curtis Chong, former technology director at the National Federation of the Blind told of once telling him “Jim, you are the only sighted person I know who thinks like a blind person,”  and that Jim treats blind colleagues without pity or condescension but with a clear understanding that people are equal when given equal access to tools.

It is a rare and wonderful privilege to know and work with Jim.  It is also a responsibility.  This is so because Jim understands as few people do what Marshall McLuhan said about tools.

We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us”

Jim inspires us all to dedicate ourselves to work together to ensure that the information and communication technology tools that are transforming society are equally accessible to all.

Jim himself told the story of choosing the name “PC SAID” for his software invention and being dismayed when his boss chose “screenreader” instead.  More stories told by Andrew Kirkpatrick, James Craig, Lainey Feingold, Chieko Asakawa and others rounded out a picture of Jim Thatcher as a man who has profoundly shaped and continues to influence the field of information technology accessibility and who is enormously generous in sharing his vast experience.

In honor of Jim Thatcher a fund has been established at the Texas Audubon Society .  If you would like to help honor Jim, please use the link and be sure to put his name in the Notes section of the form.  And please share your own stories of Jim right here as well.

Thank you Jim!