ACM ASSETS 2011 Day One [#assets11 #accessibility, #a11y]

Thoughts on day one of the The 13th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility.

(c) Joshua HailpernI’m not normally a cup-half-full kind of a guy, but the end of the first day of a good conference always produces a certain melancholia at the realisation that soon, these interesting academic conversations will be done.

ASSETS 2011 produces just such a feeling because the quality of the first day has been excellent. The two most important sessions for me were the Keynote and the first session on Assistive Technology Design Paradigms.

Lets look at Alan Dix’s keynote – Living in a World of Data – first. In his talk – which diverged over a wide landscape – Dix built a narrative which proposed that work on the semantic web, the inherent separation of data and presentation, layered with linkage between data items, and by that linkage the conveyance of an implicit meaning – will/has the ability to become the enabler for accessibility by delivery of data in a way which suits the individual.  There where plenty of layers to this keynote, which for me will need some extensive post-processing (just as a good keynote should do) and which unfortunately does not come through in the commendable but all too short written keynote abstract in the proceedings – in this case ‘you just had to be there’!

On to ‘Assistive Technology Design Paradigms’. This session initially worried me – nothing really that technical, mostly background, social, and cultural perspectives on assistive/access technology. But I was wrong – these three papers where solid work with gravitas – maybe not so much to my taste technically but their weight, informativeness, and value ware undeniable. Putting my finger on just what it is (maybe their presentation together, maybe their individual properties, maybe the interwoven nature of the work when taken together, or maybe just their quality, plain and simple) is difficult, but you should read these papers – it’s just a shame you couldn’t see their presentation.

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