Meeting notes: 4/2/15

We had a great meeting on Thursday, 4/2/15 on the topic of Web Accessibility with two great guest speakers:

Rich Schwerdtfeger

–      Rich Schwerdtfeger is CTO for Accessibility at IBM Software.  He's a member of the W3C Digital Publication Accessibility Task Force.  He also chairs the Accessible Rich Internet Applications standards effort (WAI-ARIA), and co-chairs the W3C SVG Accessibility Task Force, both part of the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative.​  He is the inventor of the technology behind WAI-ARIA, which enables enhanced accessibility for dynamic content within advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies.​

Peter K. Bol

–      Peter K. Bol is Vice Provost for Advances in Learning and Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. As Vice Provost, he is responsible for HarvardX; a newly formed educational research and analytics group; and the Harvard Initiative in Learning and Teaching. He recently wrapped up teaching ChinaX, a 15 month long open online course, with William Kirby.

Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, the full slides are not posted here.  But here's a short recap.

Rich Schwertfeger gave a great short history of the global factors driving accessibility of “ICT” – information and communication technologies.  These factors are driving a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges for regulation bodies, technologists, content creators, and corporations.  He reviewed some of the bases for legal actions, some recent litigations with examples of how each circumstance related to its relevant regulations, and recommendations for developing a comprehensive accessibility strategy.

Vice Provost Bol then provided an overview of the commitment Harvard University is making to make its learning content more accessible.  He could not get into particulars given the pending litigation with the National Association of the Deaf (more here).  But he was able to provide an important rendering of Harvard’s perspective in this area, and he also provided attending staff with information on best practices to take and how to coordinate activities so that Harvard can best support their community of folks in this area.