Soon after the first site tech global event, in December last year, Apple and Microsoft announced remarkable new features for mobile phones. Anyone can point the phone camera at a scene and request a “scene description”.
In a flash, cloud-based, computer vision determines what was in the AI view and reads instrument-voice information. The new feature was a significant milestone for accessibility technology: an affordable, portable, and the almost universal device now just “seen” by someone. The free, sponsored-supported, virtual, and global event will call on many of the world’s top technologists, researchers, advocates, and funders on how fast technology has progressed. Accessibility for visually impaired people discusses how the focus is changing – and both improvement and complexity.
At the heart of Site, Tech Global is a tough question: How do advanced, AI-based technologies actually become compelling, affordable products that are easily accepted by blind or visually impaired people? It took 40 years, for example, a $50,000 “Kurzweil Reading Machine,” for a boxed desktop device, to develop what it takes for blind people today, a free app available on any mobile phone to simply “read” a text.
As someone working in the field will tell you, the use of technology for visually impaired people to turn into truly useful, everyday, affordable tools is no less demanding than it was 40 years ago. Last year’s Seat Tech Global agenda, including Microsoft’s Shakib Sheikh, Amazon’s Josh Mile, Apple’s Chris Flejach, Orkam’s Amanon Shashua, civil rights lawyer Hoben Girma, author, and Professor Sara, brought together the best minds across the spectrum of accessibility technologies. In addition to these speakers, there were a dozen well-attended breakout sessions led by Parkinson Access, Salesforce, APH, Humanware, and others.
Due to the fact that the event is free, virtual, and highly accessible, more than 4,000 people from around the world attended the event last December. All sessions (videos and transcripts) are still available via Agenda or on-demand on YouTube. Participants gave the event generous thumbs up: 4.7 out of 5 for programming and 4.6 out of 5 for accessibility. Now is the time to register so that our volunteer team can keep you posted on agenda updates and ensure you have the opportunity to sign up for a limited attendance breakout session.