One of the biggest areas of this year’s conference is how mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, are being used by people with disabilities and how app developers and researchers are working to make these devices more accessible. One interesting development is the creation of a new screen reader, Lunar Tabs, that makes online guitar tablature — basic music notation for the guitar— accessible to people who are blind.
Other mobile themed sessions include a look at how the cameras on Apple’s mobile devices can be made more accessible, an examination of different eBook reading systems to find which is the most accessible, and a discussion of a new mobile device application that is being used to help individuals manage their daily fatigue.
Increasing employment opportunities through technology is another major theme of the conference. Again, mobile devices feature heavily here, such as in one presentation from the Job Accommodation Network — a United States government job service — on how the accessibility features of mobile devices can be used to provide workplace accommodations for people with disabilities. This includes social media telework technology help people work from home.
Accessible technology and education is another major theme at CSUN. This year, sessions will include a look at how technology can be used to encourage more people with disabilities to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Skills in these four areas, collectively referred to as STEM, are in short supply in many developed and developing countries. Sessions are also being held on how international accessibility guidelines are being used to improve online education services (e-learning), how different technologies are being used to deliver remote one-on-one training and support services, and on how assistive technology used on Android tablet computers is being used in classrooms to support students with learning disabilities
The novel ways in which technology is being used to make things easier for disabled people is also being explored at this year’s CSUN. For example, one session will detail how Microsoft’s motion detecting gaming technology, Kinect, is being used to develop a cane-like assistive system to help blind and vision impaired people navigate their environment. Another session will look at how new technology, such as 3D printers, is being used to help students who are blind learn science through touch. Google Glass, a wearable computer and screen system, will also be demonstrated, and the ways that wearable technology can help people with disabilities will be discussed.
Media Access Australia and Access iQ will bring you updates, news and speaker interviews from CSUN 2014. Twitter users can watch the action as it unfolds on the#CSUN14 hashtag.
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