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Closing Plenary: The Future of Accessibility: Home, work and play

FIrst, Tim Pennick, Tech. research consultant, Accessibility and Usability, BT (blind-focussed,...

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Nick Freear
13 July 2010

FIrst, Tim Pennick, Tech. research consultant, Accessibility and Usability, BT (blind-focussed, using braille and slides)

Matthew Cock, Chair, Jodi Mattes Trust

Extra content

First Tim Pennick, BT - HOME

A network of interconnected media devices. desktops, set-top boxes, file servers, routers.

The Connected Home Architecture is supported by bodies such as Digital Living Network Alliance - an alternative is Universal Remote Console framework.

Focussed approach to accessibility

  • Highly specialised,
  • Engineer solution for each device,
  • High degree of usability for the target user-group
  • Examples: braille watch, talking clock
  • Issues: cost.

Generic approach to accessibility

Flexible connectivity between mainstream devices and many types of assistive technology.



Converged Portable Platform Devices:
  • Mobile phones
  • PDA's
  • Netbooks

Eg. a software app. could adapt a wireless mobile phone to be a specialized remote control.

What next?
  • Influence standards bodies
  • Standardised Application Programming Interfaces

Shawn Smith, HMRC - WORK

Chair of cross-government accessibility group, also industry accessibility forum (Employers Forum on Disability).
It's not the minimum, but business-case led. Also, he's focussing on staff-facing accessibility, not customer today.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) - 600-800 software systems.
30,000 pieces of kit on the market

Areas of concern:

  • Financial crisis - the issue is not buying eg. accessible keyboard, maybe fixing legacy systems. Issue is forcing users towards online solutions - lowering cost. People working harder - less staff, same amount of work. More remote working - can be isolating. Can sit at desktop for longer, but need to take more breaks.
  • IT industry doesn't get it, still. More commercial off the shelf (COTS). Smaller suppliers don't have accessibility expertise - they don't know their products as well as we do. Thin client computing.

Reasons for hope:

  • The message is getting through. UN charter, OneVoice generic business case ... More IT suppliers joining group. Both helps sales, and their own staff. (Business about employers.)
  • International standards. Problem for Microsoft, Oracle etc. - they can't follow them all. Mandate 376 - EU. WCAG 2.0. It's coming which is progress.
  • Best practice. BS8878, Maturity model. Online components, not systems. Accessibility has become mainstream.

Third speaker - Matthew Cock, Chair, Jodi Mattes Trust - PLAY

Head of Web at the British Museum - innovators:

Jodi awards since 2003 (?)
  • Technical accessibility + involving users.
  • Awarded by Martha Lane Fox last year.

Winners last year:

  • Museum of London's podcasts from the past - Vocalize and trained long-term unemployed.
  • Disability Arts Online - vibrant design community. Kevin Carey, RNIB on Sally Booth.
  • Imperial War Museum - audio guide.
  • Regional library in the Czech. republic, Dedicom, Netherlands - International award.

International audit - we did OK, better than some, not great.

  • Need more research.
  • Good on technical accessibility, what about content?

What are the challenges?

  • Fewer museums, archives
  • More mobile centred, up to 3% (British Museum).
  • Convergent. Fewer sites, more inter-linked services. Google/ Flickr services etc.
  • HTML5.
  • Can't compete with Facebook etc. We'll be there, but responsible for access. of our content.
  • Alternative audio guides - moving from bespoke to consumer. St. Pauls is about to provide iTouchs ? Prevent a digital divide.
  • Wifi access - 7 figure some for British Museum. Legacy building!


  • Long term sustainability - this is vital.

Dan Jellinek - great range of presentations. We'll try to get as many slides etc. up through the site.

Thanks to partners, CaptionFirst for real time captions - "Amazed at the speed". Thanks to co-host OneVoice.

Nick Freear
16:07 on 13 July 2010 (Edited 12:14 on 15 July 2010)

Embedded Content

Shawn Smith, Matthew Cock, Dan Jellinek (chair), Tim Pennick - Closing Plenary

Shawn Smith, Matthew Cock, Dan Jellinek (chair), Tim Pennick - Closing Plenary

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added by Nick Freear


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