Techshare 2007

One of BRITE’s Assistive Technology Development Officers, Monty Lilburn, attended the recent Techshare conference. Read on to learn more about the conference and to find out more about some of the specific sessions Monty attended during the conference, including:

– TV via the internet: a unique access opportunity
– DAISY Pipeline, Automated Document Format Transformations
– Accessible Video with Flash Technology
– The RNIB Book Site – delivering Daisy books online
– Web accessibility
– DAISY: The Digital World Library
– A comparison of Hal, JAWS and Window-Eyes in Office 2007
– Intellectual Property Protection: Approaches to Digital Rights Management

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The RNIB’s annual Accessibility/Assistive Technology conference for professionals – Techshare 2007 – was held in London last month. This year Techshare attracted over 400 delegates from 25 countries. Although previous conferences focused specifically on blindness-related topics, this year’s event benefited from an expanded focus to include sessions and showcases targeted at a variety of disabilities. In addition, Techshare hosted the annual DAISY Technical Conference which allowed delegates from each forum to attend both streams of sessions.

Techshare offered delegates an opportunity to attend pre-conference workshops, listen to keynote speeches and attend presentations given by experts in the field of accessible technology.

Like most conferences with concurrent sessions, it was impossible to attend everything. I decided to attend a range of sessions including some DAISY technical presentations. A brief summary follows.
Day 1 Keynote

Axel Leblois Director, Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ICT) opened the conference with a presentation concerning global access to ICT for people with disabilities. This presentation was followed by a talk from Rob Sinclair (Director of Accessibility, Microsoft); discussing Microsoft’s approach to accessibility in general with specific references to Windows Vista.

TV via the internet: a unique access opportunity

This session focused on the emerging technology of Internet television (IPTV) and accessibility implications. Although effort is being made to ensure accessibility it would seam lack of IPTV regulations make this difficult.
DAISY Pipeline, Automated Document Format Transformations

This session focused on a free software tool hosted by the DAISY Consortium called the DAISY Pipeline. The DAISY Pipeline tool is an open source collaborative software development project with a goal of helping individuals and Organisations that produce and distribute DAISY digital talking books by offering the ability to transform content between different formats in a simple and economic manner. Some of these input/output formats include: Word, XML and MP3.

For more information please visit:

http://www.daisy.org/projects/pipeline
Accessible Video with Flash Technology

Andrew Kirkpatrick (Corporate Accessibility Product Manager, Adobe Systems) demonstrated Adobe Flash animation that contained accessibility features. The features demonstrated were accompanying subtitling and audio-description tracks. Although the latest Adobe Flash V9.0 (CS3) and development environments like Flex allows easier integration of accessibility enhancements, it is still up to the developer to create and use accessibility functionality. A demonstration of a complex on-line Flash web application that was developed with accessibility in mind proved to work well with the latest version of JAWS (screen reader software).

For more information please visit:

http://www.adobe.com/accessibility
The RNIB Book Site – delivering Daisy books online

This session showcased the RNIB’s latest digital library offering. The RNIB Book Site allows clients to download/play Daisy books stored on a RNIB library server. This efficient method of digital Daisy book delivery allows a member to maintain a digital bookshelf that can store five books at a time that enables downloading and reading on a Daisy capable device. The service is very new and seams like it will eventually be the RNIB’s preferred way of distributing digital talking books.

For more information please visit:

http://www.rnib.org.uk
Web accessibility

I attended two different sessions that turned out to deliver similar messages regarding the future of web accessibility involving Web 2.0. Brian Kelly (of Web Focus – UKLON) discussed a holistic approach to web accessibility examining usability issues beyond compliance. Kath Moonan (of AbilityNet) gave a dynamic presentation regarding the challenges of Web 2.0 user generated content and the difficulties with accessing certain blogs and social networking web sites.
Day 2 DAISY Keynote: The Digital World Library

Jim Fruchterman OF Bookshare.org gave an interesting presentation including information on his time with Arkenstone (pioneers in OCR/scanning/reading technology for the blind) and his current pursuit involving Bookshare. During the presentation he announced the launch of Bookshare.org.uk – an expanded international version of Bookshare.org that makes many digital books available to residence of the United Kingdom.

For more information please visit:

http://www.bookshare.org.uk
A comparison of Hal, JAWS and Window-Eyes in Office 2007

Steve Griffiths and Jonathan Tyrer of the RNIB discussed and demonstrated three screen readers with Excel, Outlook and Word in Windows Vista. The screen readers included:

-HAL: http://www.dolphinuk.co.uk
-JAWS for Windows: http://www.freedomscientific.com
-Window-Eyes: http://www.gwmicro.com

For the most part, all three screen readers seamed to cope with the changes in Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 reasonably well.
Intellectual Property Protection: Approaches to Digital Rights Management

George Kerscher (Secretary General – DAISY Consortium) and Thomas Kjellberg Christensen (Danish National Library for the Blind) facilitated a session on the topic of Digital Rights Management. Thomas Kjellberg Christensen demonstrated the technology used by the Danish National Library for the Blind that ensures digital talking books in the DAISY format are not used by anyone other than the intended recipient.
Conclusion

Techshare 2007 had many fascinating sessions about topics that are relevant to people involved in the Assistive Technology field It is an extremely good way to stay in touch with what is currently happening in the industry and learn about future trends.

For more information please visit:

http://www.rnib.org.uk

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