Brian MacDonald (Keynote Speaker)
Brian is President of National Braille Press, a world-class Braille publisher dedicated to promoting the literacy of blind children and to providing access to information that empowers blind people.
Under Brian’s leadership, NBP founded the Center for Braille Innovation to leverage emerging technologies and to develop more affordable, accessible e-Braille solutions for the blind and visually impaired. This year, NBP launched the B2G, a lower cost, Android portable braille computer. He has collaborated with Google, IBM, Apple, MIT, Michigan, and Disney Research on accessible technology solutions. He also partnered with two MIT doctoral students on the development of the Tactile Caliper, a low-cost mechanical Braille measurement tool for the blind and visually impaired. Brian continues to lead efforts to make technology, apps, and tools more accessible.
Brian was the keynote speaker at the Libraries Without Walls Conference of the Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind Persons, and has presented numerous times on the future of braille technology at national conferences including the National Federation of the Blind, American Council of the Blind, CSUN (California State University, Northridge) Technology and Persons with Disabilities conference, and the ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association) conference. Brian has been featured in numerous publications including Wired Magazine, the Economist, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and New York Times.
Erich Manser works on accessibility and inclusive design for IBM Research. He is part of the team which ensures IBM’s alignment with W3C’s WCAG global accessibility standards, while also contributing to those, and IBM’s internal standards. He oversees IBM’s Accessibility Compliance System (ACS) tool, which is used to help teams across IBM develop accessible solutions. He has particular interest in issues of low-vision accessibility, and is an active member of W3C’s Low-Vision taskforce.
Outside the workplace, Erich also advocates for equal access in fitness & sports. With the help of sighted guides, he competes in numerous marathons and triathlons throughout the US. In 2015, he was proud to break a world record for a visually-impaired competitor in an Ironman triathlon (2.4mi swim, 112mi bike, 26.2mi run) by over 40 minutes. He also finished in the top 10% of everyone racing.
Fei Wu is a MS student of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Advised by Dr. Ping Chen, he is a Research Assistant, and his research area is in Natural Language Processing and Topic model. He received his BS from South China University of Technology, majoring in information engineering.
Dr. Soussan Djamasbi
Dr. Soussan Djamasbi is an Associate Professor of Information Technology and the Founder and Director of the User Experience and Decision Making (UXDM) research laboratory at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her research focuses on user experience design. Her work utilizes traditional research methods (e.g. surveys, interviews) as well as physiological measures, such as eye tracking, to assess attention, awareness, cognitive effort, cognitive engagement, and information processing behavior.
Dr. Djamasbi received her BS in Computer Science from Christian Albrechts Universität (CAU), Kiel Germany, MS in Computer Science from University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and PhD in Communication Information Systems from University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa.
Dr. Ping Chen
Dr. Ping Chen is an Associate Professor of Computer Engineering and the Director of Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His research interests include Bioinformatics, Data Mining, and Computational Semantics. Dr. Chen has received five NSF grants and published over 50 papers in major Data Mining, Artificial Intelligence, and Bioinformatics conferences and journals. Dr. Ping Chen received his BS in Information Science and Technology from Xi’an Jiao Tong University, MS in Computer Science from Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Ph.D in Information Technology at George Mason University.
Peter works in IBM Research in the Human Ability and Accessibility Center and has responsibilities for business partners and advocacy organizations. His current focus is on working with partners and advocacies to bring IBM AbilityLab research assets to market. Over his 18+ years with IBM, he has worked in IBM Software Group, focused on collaboration solutions, and in IBM Global Technology Services, focused on unified communications. Prior to coming to IBM, Peter worked for a number of software companies in the Boston area. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College.
John has been developing accessible websites, web applications, and online courses since the early 1990s. In 2009, he started exploring and experimenting with best practices of web accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities, particularly intellectual disabilities.
John is a program director and a faculty member of UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, a research, education, and service center for people with intellectual disabilities. John is also a co-founder and a co-organizer of the Boston Accessibility Group.
Sarah E. Bourne is the Director of IT Accessibility for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where she works on accessibility policy, standards, and guidance for development and procurement for internal and public systems. These efforts started with creating accessibility guidelines in 1998 as the Commonwealth’s first webmaster.
She is a co-founder and organizer of the annual Boston Accessibility Conference.
Aaron Leventhal has been a low vision specialist, accessibility architect, and assistive technology pioneer for 25 years. Aaron’s early professional accomplishments includes the design and development of MegaDots, a professional Braille publishing tool for teachers, Braille transcribers, and people with visual impairments. Aaron also drove the initial implementations of the ARIA web application accessibility standard.
Aaron has served in a variety of technical and product management roles on accessibility for IBM, Netscape, Firefox, and Ai Squared. Aaron is currently Director of Product Management at sitecues, where he is creating technology to make websites more usable for individuals with vision, learning, and language challenges.
As Transformation Lead for IBM Accessibility, Moe oversees the transformation of accessibility processes to align with the new IBM Offering Management and developing an Open Source presence where IBM accessibility can share guidance, examples, tooling and techniques. Moe recently authored development techniques for IBM Accessibility Checklist for Software in anticipation of the US Section 508 refresh.
Moe joined IBM in 1989 and has been focusing on accessibility for over 16 years. She is an active member of W3C WCAG WG, Boston Accessibility Group, and sits on the Super Women’s Group Steering Committee at the IBM Mass Lab in Littleton, MA. Look for Moe on Twitter or at moekraft.com.
Jennison has been working in digital accessibility for over ten years.
He co-founded the annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day www.globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org in 2012. A Toronto native, Jennison now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where he began the Bay Area Accessibility and Inclusive Design Meetup www.meetup.com/a11ybay and Accessibility Camp Bay Area www.accessibilitycampbay.org. By day, Jennison leads accessibility at LinkedIn and manages a team of software engineers who support these efforts.
Deborah Kaplan is a programmer, web accessibility specialist, librarian, archivist, book reviewer, university lecturer, open source coder, and all-around over-committed person. She’s also a long-time user of adaptive technology. After stints making online content available accessibly in both university archives and in publishing houses, Deborah is currently working as a freelance programmer with a specialty in accessibility.
Molly E. Holzschlag works as Developer Relations for Vivaldi Technologies. Often referred to as the “Godmother” of the Web, Molly has:
- Authored over 35 seminal books on Web development technologies and practices
- Advocated for an accessible free and open Web via Knowbility.Org and W3C, as well as many industry familiars like Microsoft and the BBC
- Has presented about Web accessibility and technology best practices globally for over twenty years
Formerly known as “mollydotcom”, feel free to follow up with questions, comments, and fun on Twitter, follow @mholzschlag.