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Mike Paciello

Industry Innovation Blog

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Welcome to the Industry Innovation Blog!

Achieving Third Wave Accessibility

During the 1991 World Congress on Technology conference, the late Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) visionary David Stone gave a captivating presentation involving pervasive accessible technology for people with disabilities. Stone's theme, "Accessible Technology: A Look Towards the Third Wave," identified the weakness of past and current personal assistive technology interfaces and proposed the development of an advanced accessibility architecture.

The weakness of personal assistive technology, Stone revealed, can be directly attributed to two primary problems:

1. Emerging technology grows at faster rates and more powerfully than personal assistive technology.
2. Personal assistive technology adapts and reacts to emerging technology after the technology has reached broad usage.

David then stated:

"I submit to you that, in order to give disabled persons full access to technology, we have to ride not only the personal assistive technology wave, but also the systems integration and pervasive accessible technology waves of the future.

In simple terms, we need to make provisions for integrating personal assistive products as front ends or access ports to technology, and we need to make information technology pervasively disability friendly!"
According to Stone, achieving accessibility on a pervasive level requires an architecture consisting of four key components:

1. An infrastructure that is capable of running on cross-platform, multivendor systems.
2. A layer of integration services that tie the multivendor systems together and include accessibility services including speech recognition, Access Keys, synthetic voice, and so on.
3. A third level containing accessible applications and data.
4. An accessible framework that acts a personalized interpreter to the individual, regardless of that person's abilities or language skills.

Where is this all leading to? In my opinion, it's leading to the development of an accessible information technology infrastructure that features direct and pervasive accessibility for all people, particularly people with disabilities. The Internet and World Wide Web are the foundation for this development. Third Wave Accessibility is the next paradigm shift in the convergence of information communication technology (ICT) and people with disabilities.

The creation of an accessible information architecture cannot be achieved without the implementation of international accessibility standards. These standards must identify the requirements that information technology and its interface can accommodate. Additionally, it is imperative that they are supported by the assistive technology (AT) and information technology (IT) industries at large.

Next generation information technology human interfaces require a set of accessibility standard interfaces for speech, touch, video, and sound (among others). The accessible information technology infrastructure also requires a set of standard accessibility services that are available on all operating system platforms. Data must be stored and maintained in an accessible format. The end result is a pervasive accessibility technology that serves the user, putting the responsibility of adaptation on the information technology (not the user).

Donald Norman highlighted this design regarding human-centered product development by saying, "The goal is a technology that serves the user, where the technology fits the task and the complexity is that of the task, not the tool."

Next-generation information appliances and services based on common or standard human interfaces with built-in accessibility features. Cross-platform and open software application architectures must provide direct links to accessibility services. Flexible data description languages such the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) will enable content publishers to describe and deliver data any way you want.

The one entity that still requires development is the external framework that functions as a personalized interpreter to every user, anywhere, at anytime. A framework that knows you and your preferences, yet is flexible enough to adapt to changes based on your operational environment and information requests. Once this is accomplished, we will have created a pervasive accessibility architecture that provides the ultimate infrastructure for every user, regardless of ability or language, ubiquitously.

Over the next two years you can expect that the ground-breaking work of various standards bodies, including the W3C/WAI, ISO, ANSI/HFES and TEITAC are the collborative bridge needed to ensure the globalization of accessiblity. In turn, these standards are breathing new life into emerging technologies including WAI-ARIA, IA2, ACTF, and Big Sky.

Accessibility is moving into blue ocean territory - making disability in the technology realm irrelevant. I invite you to join me in this blog where we will look at new and emerging technologies, standards, and global initatiives in pursuit of Third Wave Accessibility.


Recommended Resources URLS:

TEITAC: http://www.teitac.org/
WAI-ARIA: http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/aria
ACTF: http://www.eclipse.org/actf/
IA2: http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/Accessibility/IAccessible2
Big Sky: http://www.ucp.org/ucp_general.cfm/1/16243
TPG: http://www.paciellogroup.com/


Related Items:


• Obsession with Medical Costs Will Turn Mobile Health Apps and Devices into a Major Growth Industry

• Welcome to the Harmonization & Standardization Blog!

• G3ict presents at ATIA - AIA Forum at CSUN 2012: Taking Accessibility Mainstream - Making the Case for an International Society of Accessibility Professionals, San Diego, USA

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