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Debra Ruh

Employability & Technology


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07/04/2013

2013 M-Enabling Review: A Summit that Focused on Abilities


Debra Ruh, who attended the 2013 M-Enabling Summit on Accessible Mobile Technology, was responsible for ensuring accessible services at the Conference. Here, she gives us an overview of her experience in Washington, DC.

I attend many conferences themed on accessibility, inclusion and aging, in the United States as well as around the world, through the year. Last month, I had the pleasure to attend the 2nd Annual M-Enabling Summit on Accessible Mobile Technology for Senior Citizens and Users of All Abilities, in Washington D.C. on June 6 and 7, 2013. What struck me at the outset was the title of the conference: it didn’t focus on disabilities, but abilities, and I must say, the Summit lived up to its title in its scope, content and audience.

I have noticed that in some conferences they cover the same topics year after year, bringing in a fresh batch of speakers who shed new light on a set routine of topics and themes. Now, it’s absolutely important to cover these topics because we always have newcomers that need the data and it is helpful to get a refresher on the basics. However, it is also nice to be able to really explore and dig into the topics and set new benchmarks for what needs to be the way forward, both in terms of practice and policy. It is also helpful to have a diverse audience attending the conference. The U.S. can always learn from other countries as we share best practices, opportunities, obstacles, and successes with our Asian, European and African counterparts. 

Opening Session at the Summit. Pic courtesy Connected Nation

Image: Opening Session at the Summit. Pic courtesy Connected Nation
 
Axel Leblois, G3ict President and Executive Director set the stage with his keynote speech in the Opening Session: "The pace of mobile technology innovation for accessible and assistive mobile solutions for seniors and people with disability has accelerated at an unprecedented rate. Several factors drive this rapid and continuous expansion of the global mobile accessibility ecosystem. Industry leaders are now competing to offer the best accessibility and usability features resulting in an irreversible trend. With 6.5 billion subscribers, the mobile industry has achieved what no other technology has done before: giving virtually all human beings on the planet access to communications, social interaction, information and knowledge wherever they are, in rich and poor countries alike."

The pre-Summit sessions at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Senate were powerful; there was tremendous support for the CRPD and it proved the perfect curtain raiser for the main event on June 6 and 7. The M-Enabling Summit saw speakers and attendees from all over the world, including Egypt, Spain, South Africa, Europe, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, India, South Korea, China, and with government, academic and corporate representatives from 32 countries in attendance. The presentation topics focused on how accessible mobile technologies benefit people living with disabilities, including senior citizens and children. Presenters also demonstrated and showcased apps and assistive technology solutions in fields as diverse as transportation, banking, education, emergency response and disaster preparedness, video relay services, television and entertainment, rehabilitation and assistive care centers, universal access, publishing, development and testing of software and solutions, and more. There was something for everyone at the Summit.

I believe the public/private partnerships also allowed the M-Enabling Summit to up its scope, both in terms of topics presented this year and the number of participants who attended: 450 in all. The credit for this Summit also goes to the impressive line-up of Sponsors, who supported G3ict and E.J. Krause and Associates – the organizers of this annual conference – by fully engaging with the conference attendees, presenting cutting edge research and case studies on accessible mobile solutions, and providing inspiring stories of corporate leadership in the field of accessibility.

Closing Session of the Summit / pic courtesy Debra Ruh

Image: Closing Session of the M-Enabling Summit. Pic courtesy Debra Ruh

Sponsors included Adobe, AT&T, Blackberry, CEA, CTIA, Deque, Doro, EZ Fire, HP, IBM, MS, Qualcomm, Ruh Global, Sprint, Technosite, TIA, T-Mobile, and Verizon. These global leaders represent small, medium and large corporations and are proving that they care about inclusion and accessibility for all customers. The supporting organizations partnered with the M-Enabling Summit organizers to assure that the content was rich and that the attendance was diverse. The 2013 M-Enabling Summit set the bar high for other conferences. It showed that the content could be meaningful, relevant and powerful for the attendees. It also confirms my belief that rich content will always bring forth committed and diverse audience, all of whom get the opportunity to interact and network with one another.  

It was exciting to be part of this powerful program. Several participants noted that they had never attended a more content rich and diverse conference. Personally, I was responsible for ensuring an accessible conference experience for all attendees and it was a learning and enriching experience. We blended technology with service to up our accessibility game for the attendees and speakers, several of whom required distinctive accommodations in communications, transportation and stay. Our efforts paid off; a case in point being captioning services as well as experienced (and enthusiastic) interpreters present in sessions where participants had requested for assistance in advance. 

I am looking forward to attending and participating in the 3rd Annual M-Enabling Summit Conference and Showcase scheduled for June 2 and 3, 2014, to be held in Washington, DC.  

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Related Blog: 2013 M-Enabling Summit Highlights: Accessibility Drives Innovation | Read Nilofar Ansher's Blog.
 
Related Photos: 2013 M-Enabling Summit Photo Gallery | Video Proceedings | Speakers Presentation  

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Related Items:

• CEA’S GARY SHAPIRO TO KEYNOTE 2015 M-ENABLING ON SMARTER LIVING FOR ALL

• BridgingApps Participates in Mobile Technology Summit for Special Needs

• Debra Ruh Presents at The Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network in Shanghai, China

• 2014 M-Enabling Summit: G3ict-EJK Global Conference and Showcase on Accessible Mobile Technology, Washington, D.C., USA


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