Top take-aways from CSUN 2013

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Friday, 8 March 2013 10:45am

The world’s largest accessible technology conference took place in San Diego, California last week. The Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, commonly known as CSUN, showcases emerging technologies set to make an impact over the coming years. Here, Dr Scott Hollier details his favourites.

The open web: where consumer products meet web standards

A big focus of presentations this year was the convergence of consumer products with web standards. This means that more products will be designed in an accessible way that works better with the accessibility features on popular devices.

A great example of this was the demonstration of Mozilla’s operating system Firefox OS, which is likely to appear on smartphones and tablets later in the year. Firefox OS is based almost entirely on web standards, removing the restrictions from private companies to create apps for it. Firefox OS also comes with a built-in screen reader which was demonstrated at the conference.

Updates to Google Apps accessibility guides

Google used CSUN as an opportunity to bring its accessibility resources for Google Appstogether and improve their readability. These include a number of tips around using the accessibility features in Google’s products and helpful keyboard shortcut information. The resources guide people on how to get started with Google Apps for blind and low-vision users, Chrome and ChromeVox, Google Drive files and folders, Google Drive Documents, Google Drive Sheets, Google Drive Slides, Gmail and Calendar.

Android accessibility: 4.2 and beyond

Several presentations focused on the rapid evolution of Google Android accessibility including the significant improvements to the compatibility of apps with TalkBack, Android’s screen reader. There was also discussion around screen magnification and other potential new benefits as Android continues to catch up to Apple on accessibility.

Windows 8: the good, the bad and the inaccessible

A new addition to CSUN this year was presentations looking at the accessibility of Windows 8. Microsoft’s latest operating system is radically different and generally considered to be a significant improvement over earlier versions with a touch-enabled Magnifier and significantly updated Narrator screen reader. However, issues around the accessibility of apps in the new Windows Store and the challenges of toggling between traditional and new applications have proved to be points for discussion this year. For a detailed look at Windows 8 see our accessibility review of the Microsoft Surface tablet.

Further information on presentations can be found at the CSUN conference sessions information page.

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