The Great Big List from the 2016 CSUN International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference

After missing last year, I’m excited to be back at the CSUN (California State University, Northridge) Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference.

Save the Date: The 2017 CSUN Conference will be held February 27th through March 4th, 2017.

If you know of a resources that should be added to the list, please send me a note at @mactoph or Thank you! Big thanks to Jennifer Sutton for helping gather many of the resources listed below! New resources will be added as they are received.

Conference Notes and Roundups

Audio and Video Roundups

Conference Presentations

Presentations or notes on presentations are listed alphabetically below.

News and Resources

Social Media

The best place to follow the conversation with the #CSUN16 hashtag on Twitter, but you will also find conversations on Instagram, Facebook, Google Plus or anywhere else hashtags are such Hashtagrify,, or Twazzup (Twitter login required). You can also check-in to the 2016 Conference on Lanyrd

Vendors, Sponsors and Exhibitors

Official directory of exhibitors and sponsors

Vendor News, Announcements and Press Releases

Official Conference Stuff

The official conference website has all kinds of important things like a list of all the sessions, special announements, and a mobile version of the site at . They also have a CSUN Facebook page and Twitter account.

If you are new to the conference, check out CSUN For Newbies from John Foliot or Tips for the CSUN Conference Newbie from Deque Systems.

Accessible Conference Materials

The DAISY Consortium has generously made the conference program and other materials available in in ePub or HTML files. The NFB Newsline has the agenda available in audio format by calling the NFB Newsline number and then choosing option 5, option 5 again, & then option 1 to listen.

Events and Meetups (Formal and Otherwise)

The Great Big List from the 2014 CSUN International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference

Below is a collection of presentations, people, and news happenings around the CSUN (California State University, Northridge) Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference. I’m a little late to the party this year and could use your help in gathering links and resources. If you see something that should be added to the list, let me know at @mactoph or New resources will be added as they come in, thank you!

Following the Conversation

You can find #CSUN14 hashtag all over the world, including Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. You can also see #CSUN14 images, people, videos, and slide collections at Topsy, Lanyrd, and Eventifier.

You can also see the conversations happening at twazzup (Twitter login required), hashtagrify,

Conference Roundups

Conference Presentations

This is the good stuff. Presenters, please take a moment to make your slides available online and let me know at or @mactoph. I’ll make them available below.

Huge thank you to Jennifer Sutton for help in gathering presentations this year.

Attending the Conference

Events and Meetups (Formal and Otherwise)

News and Resources

Official Conference Stuff

The official conference website has all kinds of important things like a list of all the sessions and special announements. There is also a mobile version of the site at .

The DAISY Consortium has generously made the conference program and other materials available in in ePub or HTML files. The official Conference Twitter account is @CSUNCod.

Vendors, Sponsors and Exhibitors

Official directory of exhibitors and sponsors

Vendor News, Announcements and Press Releases


Feeling nostalgic for great big lists from CSUNs past? The 2013, 2012 and 2011 Big Lists are also still available.

If you know of something I have missed, or have any kind of correction please send me a note at @mactoph or and I’ll get it taken care of.

Looking for someone who can make big lists (among other things)? Christopher Phillips on LinkedIn

The Great Big List from the 2012 CSUN International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference

Here’s the thing- 2012 California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Center on Disabilities Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference is a really big deal. It is a gathering of people and ideas unlike any other in the world.

As a follow up to the 2011 Great Big List, below is a collection of people, ideas, presentation and other resources from the 2012 conference. If you see anything I’ve missed or that should be corrected please send me a note at @mactoph or Thanks!

Round Ups

Conference Presentations


Blog and News Coverage

Video Interviews


Getting Ready and Attending the Confernece

Vendors, Sponsors and Exhibitors

Following the Conversation

Official Conference Stuff

Vendor News, Announcements and Press Releases

Side Conversations

Other Resources

Not Attending?

Besides following the conversation online, Jeffrey Stark has offered to answer your questions from the conference or you might consider following the lead of this “Wish we could be at CSUN” commiseration event” in Canberra Australia.

Thank you!

Thank you to the following people for sending me tips and resources, please remind me if I forgot you: Jared Smith, @blindbargains, Mika O Pyyhkala, Jennison Ascunsion, Jon Hassell.

The Great Big List from the 2011 CSUN International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference

Below is a collection of reviews, presentations and other links the from the 2011 CSUN International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference. If you have anything that I’ve missed, let me know at @mactoph or I’ll keep adding stuff as long as I get it.

Overall Conference Experiences

Pre-Conference Sessions and Keynote

Presentations and Notes from Wednesday through Friday Sessions


Lots of great Twitter conversation throughout, the official hashtags was #csun11.

Thursday Night Tweetup



Vendors and Product Sites and News

Official List of Conference Exhibitors

Other Links & Resources

Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education Update Session

Presentation from the 2011 CSUN Technology Conference.
Presenter: Gaeir Dietrich, Director of the High Tech Center Training Unit

Full Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education Update Session PowerPoint Presentation available here

Background on the Commission

The Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities was established under the Higher Education Opportunity Act and they held their first meeting on September 27, 2010.

The basic goal of the commission is to:

indentify ways to improve the opportunities for postsecondary students with print disabilities to access instructional materials in a comparable timeframe as the instructional materials for nondisabled students.

The commission is working to identify barriers and systemic issues as well as consider technical solutions. However, Gaeir acknowledged that whatever solutions exist today will likely not be the solution three years from now. As an example, the California Assembly Bill 422 passed in 1999 requires publishers to provide electronic text for students with disabilities for certain colleges and universities in ASCII format (no bold, italics or other formatting).

Six Areas the Commission is Considering

Accessible Formats With Comparable Timeframe and Costs

How students with print disabilities may obtain instructional materials in accessible formats within a comparable timeframe and at costs comparable to the costs of such materials for nondisabled students.

Feasibility of Standards

The feasibility and technical parameters of establishing standardized electronic file formats to be provided by publishers of instructional materials to producers of materials in accessible formats, institutions of higher education, and eligible students.

National Clearinghouse

The feasibility of establishing a national clearinghouse, repository, or file-sharing network for electronic files used in producing instructional materials in accessible formats, and a list of possible entitites qualified to adminiser such a clearinghouse, repository, or network.

Market-based Solutions

The feasibility of establishing market-based solutions involving collaborations among publishers of instructional materials, producers of materials in accessible formats, and institutions of higher education.

Universal Design

Solutions utilizing universal design.

Low Incident, High Cost Materials

Solutions for low-incidence, high-cost requests for instructional materials in accessible formats.

Four Task Forces

Gaeir was clear that they are still early in the process and the ideas express are simply a snapshot of their current thinking.

Task Force One

Led by Tuck Tinsley of the American Printing House for the Blind.

This task force is considering high-cost & low-incidence materials such as braille and tactile graphics as well as instructional materials in the areas of:

  • science,
  • technology,
  • engineering,
  • mathematics,
  • foreign languages, and
  • graduate studies.

They are also considering best practices, the definition of print disability (based on functional limitations) and the definition of instructional materials. Their report will include current data that shows that approximately 1% of all students have some type of print disability.

Task Force Two

Led by Jim Fructerman from Bookshare and Benetch.

This task force is looking at technology Issues, the possibility of a file repository, a standardized format and a federated search.

This group so far has recommended that it is not feasible to recommend a standardized file format. However, they are recommending a single repository and they do recommend a federated search to consolidate data and adding metadata to files pertaining to accessibility.

Task Force Three

Led by George Kerscher of the DAISY Consortium and the RFB&D

This task force is looking at market model solutions, E-pub and DAISY formats, Web solutions, Open Educational Resources (OER), Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Considering the market model solutions, they are looking to find where market needs and the needs of users with disabilities overlap. Gaeir mentioned the example of text messaging that is replacing TTY services for many people.

Task Force Four

Led by Maria Pallante of the Copright Office

They are looking at the legal framework, copyright, the Chafee Amendment, the Americans with Disabilites Act and Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act, and State Higher Education E-text laws.

There are difficult issues to resolve in this area, but they are feeling that any rework of copyright will not pass the legislature. They are looking at how there can be an appropriate balance between copyright law and civil rights law. Because the exceptions under the Chaffee Amendment require that a learning disability be organic based, they are also working on providing guidelines that include current brain research on the organic basis of learning disabilities.

Wrap Up

Gaier is really excited about DAISY, but she mentioned that most students are still requesting Word or MP3 files in postsecondary settings because those are the formats that they are used to. She feels like this will change as the younger generation grows up using DAISY.

The commission is planning on having a rough draft of their report at the AHEAD Conference in July.

Anyone can receive public updates by sending an email to with the word ‘subscribe’ in the subject line.

Related Links

CSUN Keynote Panel on International Accessibility and Information and Communication Technology

The next few days I’ll be posting some notes from the California State University Northridge (CSUN) 26th Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference.

Tonight the keynote panel that was moderated by Mike Paciello and included Paul P. Schafer, Mohammed Al-Tarawneh and Axel Leblois. You can read the full bios for Paul, Mohammed and Axel on the conference website. The theme of the panel was an international perspective on closing the gap between assistive technology and information and communication technologies (ICT).

The State of International Accessibility and ICT

To start the discussion, Axel responded to Mike’s question on the state of international accessibility by stating that we are in an unprecended period of growth of technology and devices, citing statistics that there 5 billion mobile phones, 2.5 billion televisions, 1.2 billion personal computers and 1.6 billion Internet users.

Axel then discussed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and mentioned that 99 countries have already ratified it. Mohammed expressed a hope that the United States will soon become the 100th to ratify the treaty and Paul reported from conversation with Judy Huemann that the treaty would soon be going to the US senate.

International Accessibility and ICT Challenges

Mohammed discussed the challenges of the CRPD and how those challenges affect ICT. He said that there is a gap between developed and developing countries. He hopes that countries with the resources and expertise will offer needed financial, technical, education assistance to developing countries.

Axel discussed the problem that although there is much research happening in the area of assitive technology, little of the research done at universities actually makes it to market. Lots of money is being spent on that research that never ends up benefitting end users.

Paul mentioned another issue is that the cost of assistive technology in 3rd world countries is still to expensive, but expressed hope that as mainstream products such as Android devices become accessible they will eventually help assistive technology become more affordable.

Solutions to International ICT Accessibility Problems

Looking forward, Paul felt that some solutions to increasing access to ICT might be the mass market utilization of technologies such as text-to-speech (TTS), speech recognition and brain-computer interfaces (BCI). He also sees potential for assistive technology cloud services. Paul also emphasized the importance of sharing best practices- both in technology and business processes. He discussed the importance sucessfull businesses mentoring others with the goal of getting more accessible practices into off-the-shelf products to replae more expensive, proprietary solutions.

Mohammed said that the CRPD is a powerful legal instrument that binds member states to abide by every single article, but that some member states are unaware of all obligations that signing the treaty brings. He is hopeful that academic institutions, the private sector, civil society organizations and governments will work together to help those in developing countries who lack resources.

One of the areas where Axel has seen success is working on the “low hanging fruit” of accessibility of telephones and televison broadcasting in developing countries. Often there is an FCC-like organization that simply needs training of what they need to do to be more accessible. He also discussed the business value of assitive technologies in expanding markets such as mobile and cloud-based solutions.

Other Keynote Business

After the panel, Alan D. Muir received the the Fred Strache Leadership Award and Klaus Miesenberer received 2011 Trace Center’s Harry J. Murphy Catalyst Award. In his acceptance speech Klaus shared a chinese proverb that went something like this:

“If you want to be happy for a day, get drunk.
If you want to be happy for a month, slaughter a pig
If you want to be happy for a year, get married
If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden”

If you have an additions or corrections to the above, please let me know!

Open Education and Accessibility

The Open Education Conference is happening right now in Vancouver, but is also offering a number of ways to participate remotely, including live and archived streams of the event, or simply follow the tag opened09 just about anywhere (Twitter opened09, Flickr opened09, Delicious opened09, Blogsearch opened09, etc…)

The theme of this year’s conference is “Crossing the Chasm” and while I was disappointed that there weren’t more sessions addressing disability accessibility directly, there is a tremendous amount of value in almost every session I have watched to anyone interested in any kind of accessibility. Through the conference website I was able to find a couple of good resources on the accessibility of open educational resources for people with disabilities:

One of the resources I learned about today is folksemantic, a service and set of tools to help identify open educational resources. A quick search for accessibility resources yielded the following shareable learning resources:

If you do join in the conversation, be sure to add yourself to the virtual attendee list!

Social Networking Accessibility

Via, a summary of a 21 page report on the accessibility of social networks from AbilityNet. The report analyzes Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Yahoo and Bebo and reports that they all stink. Of those 5 sites, Yahoo was the only was to receive a two-star rating- that’s two starts out of five. The other four all received one star indicating they are ‘very inaccessible’.

The group has been in the news of late as a number of major social networks have become involved. While their stated mission is not to make social networks accessible for users with disabilities, the goal that they are working towards should have that overall effect over time. They are working to promote the use of existing open standards to facilitate the sharing of social network user content outside of that network. Over time this will open the door to the creation of more accessible interfaces to access at least some of the data that is currently available only through proprietary, inaccessible systems.

Hopefully, the process of making user content more readily available will also lead to improvements in accessibility along the way. In the meantime, are users with disabilities being left out of the social networking revolution? Is anyone doing this right?

Personas of Persons with Disabilities

I recently presented on disability awareness in building accessible websites to a group of interaction designers. At the end, I was asked about examples of a specific person with a disabilities as well as design considerations for that person. This is what I found:

Personas of Persons with Disabilities and Recommended Design Considerations

  • Fluid, a user experience project for open source projects, created the persona of Sara Windsor, a faculty member who is blind and outlines some considerations in designing an accessible user experience for her.
  • Living with Disabilities, profiles for a blind person, low vision, hearing impaired, motor control impaired, and cognitively challenged, with design considerations for each- from the University of Michigan.

Personas of Persons with Disabilities

Regardless of whether or not you use personas, the examples are helpful to go through to better understand accessibility from a different perspective, even though that perspective is that of a make believe person.

If the personas aren’t doing it for you, take a gander at some of these videos and experiences to get a better feel for how persons with disabilities access the web:

Additional Resources


Tactile Video Displays

a tactile graphic display device

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has licensed a technology for the commercialization of a tactile graphic display device. The device promises users who are blind the ability to feel images from any number of sources on a refreshable braille display. The technology has been in development for awhile, but commercialization is a significant step forward.

From the press release:

ELIA Life Technology Inc. of New York, N.Y., licensed for commercialization both the tactile graphic display device and fingertip graphic reader developed by NIST researchers. The former, first introduced as a prototype in 2002, allows a person to feel a succession of images on a reusable surface by raising some 3,600 small pins (actuator points) into a pattern that can be locked in place, read by touch and then reset to display the next graphic in line. Each image—from scanned illustrations, Web pages, electronic books or other sources—is sent electronically to the reader where special software determines how to create a matching tactile display.

From the ELIA Life Technology About Us page:

The ELIA Life team strives to improve the quality of life of visually impaired persons and their family members by enabling the visually impaired to live, work, learn, and communicate with greater independence and dignity.

It appears that they market the tactile alphabet as an alternative to braille and claim that, “only three percent of legally blind Americans can read Braille”

I don’t know how long before this technology will be made widely available, but it raises a couple of interesting questions:

  1. Would you prefer effective alt text to a tactile graphic display device that worked?
  2. Will this type of technology one day be used as an excuse for people not do use alt tags?

More on the technology: NIST ‘Pins’ Down Imaging System for the Blind

(via WebbAlert)