The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2009 conference in Orlando is off to a great start. I attended sessions on VoiceOver for iTunes, and Apple shipped in 50 or so brand-new Macs to demonstrate speech capabilities for the iTunes library, a new accessibility feature that will be rolled out by summer. A visually impaired attendee, Adam Gaffney, who works for Florida’s agency for blind services, whizzed through VoiceOver and pointed out potential goofs. I couldn’t hear on the available earbuds so I tried to follow along somewhat haphazardly. But it’s still a very cool feature. Microsoft presented the new built-in screen magnifier for Windows 7. A nice add-in for the visually impaired, if not basic. I also attended an awe-inspiring talk by Benetech’s Jim Fruchterman, who I met several years ago when he launched Bookshare.org, an audio book service for the blind that’s essentially like Napster for books (only he worked in collaboration with publishers, not against them.) Jim and his research partner, Gregg Vanderheiden of the University of Wisconsin’s TRACE center for assistive technology research, talked up the invention of a “superbrowser” that will give equal access to content over the Internet to all disabled people, all over the world. More details to come on that initiative, and others, as ATIA continues on Friday.
Cool New Assistive Tech from ATIA
January 29 2009 | by Suzanne Robitaille