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Technology and Disability in the Developing World Research and Practice Workshop
  • Seattle, WA, USA
  • October 2, 2009
  • University of Washington
  • Gates Commons, Paul Allen Center (CSE 691)
Disability is defined in physical, social, and rights-based terms. Following significant legal and social activism in several nations, much interest in both academia and industry has been invested in creating tools and frameworks of access for persons with disabilities. However, in several parts of the developing world, accessibility issues continue to face economic and social challenges. This workshop attempts to bring together scholars and practitioners working in the area of technology and disability in the developing world to discuss recent developments and chart possible areas of collaboration in this domain.

The goal of the workshop is to discuss the following:

  1. Review selected cases within low-cost technology development and deployment for disabled populations in terms of infrastructure, products, and service delivery
  2. Review recent research on social and economic issues around the access to technological tools for the disabled 
  3. Create relationships and discuss actionable steps for collaborative work ahead

Planned Sessions

  1. Social, Legal, and Business issues around the use of technology in developing regions: In this session, we will discuss social issues around technology access for the disabled, the impacts of national legislative measures and international initiatives on access, employability and the business of developing technological tools for the disabled. Invited talks include a discussion of social issues around technology centers for the disabled in Latin America and the role of advocacy in expanding employability for the disabled.
  2. Technological issues: In this session, we will discuss current implementations and future areas of development of low-cost technology for the disabled. Invited talks include a discussion of typical failure cases of software for the visually impaired, open source tools as options to proprietary software, low cost computing hardware and navigation devices for motor disabilities. 
  3. Break-out roundtables: In this session, we will break groups by domains of interest in an effort to discuss desirables and collaborative steps ahead either in research or in practice.


The workshop will be a full-day event with presentation sessions followed by one break-up roundtable discussion session. The presentation sessions will be arranged around invited speakers, each discussing for 20 minutes a specific issue or case with broader relevance for the state of technical, social, legal, or business issues around technology and disability in the developing world. A detailed program will be online shortly.


Disability Studies
Center for Information and Society

For further details, and to participate, please contact Joyojeet Pal.

Session speakers (subject to change)

1. Becky Matter/Dennis Lang, Disability Studies, UW "Landscape of Social Issues around Technology and Disability in the Developing world"

2. Philip Neff, JSIS, UW "Socio-economic issues in expanding  access to the disabled in Latin America: Evidence from Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico, and Guatemala

3. Rahul Cherian, InclusivePlanet "Internationalizing a Legal Framework for Services for the Disabled"

4. James Thurston, Microsoft, "Advocacy for accessibility in the developing world"

5. David Rojas, POETA, Organization of American States " ICTs as facilitators of social and labor inclusion for people with disabilities "

6. Chandrika Jayant, CSE, UW "Landscape of Technical issues around PCs for the Disabled "

7. Sangyun Hanh, CSE, UW "Low cost and Open Source Tools for the Blind: State of Technology and Ways Ahead"

8. Jacob Wobbrock, iSchool, UW " Ability-based Design: Concept, Principles, and Examples."

9. Michele Frix, CIS, UW "Common technical failures in low-resource envorinments - examples from field research in Latin America"

10. Victor Tsaran, Yahoo "Accessible Web services for the blind: ethnographic evidence from research in 7 countries"

11. Shaun Kane, Intel Research Seattle / UW " Supporting independent navigation using commodity mobile phones"

12.  Richard Ladner, CSE, UW “Low-cost technology for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing”