AT Summit

Last week OpenDirective held an Assistive Technology (AT) Summit at Mozilla’s London “Space” near Covent Garden.  The event brought developers, researchers and other stakeholders in the AT industry together to foster open innovation and open business models around new or existing projects.

The event was split over 2 days. The first day was dedicated to giving everyone a grounding in open innovation, and breaking the ice between attendees ensuring that ideas were in full flow for the second day.

The morning of the second day was a barcamp, with attendees suggesting ideas for discussion topics and splitting into smaller groups.  Discussions included Firefox OS, software foundations and accessible computer games.

After lunch came the meat of the event.  Attendees suggested projects which they’d like to commit to moving forward with the support of others at the event.  Projects that were put forward included:

  • NVDA – an open source screen reader for Windows with support for speech synthesis and Braille.  Several attendees were involved in the NVDA project which is currently reaching a tiny fraction of its potential audience.  The project needs to find a sustainable model to continue development and drive forward adoption.
  • A foundation for funding and fostering AT projects.  A recurring issue of the event was the lack of funding for AT projects and a lack of interaction between small disparate projects and companies. Mike Paciello of The Paciello Group who sponsored the event proposed forming a foundation in the spirit of existing open source software foundations to bring projects and companies together and foster open innovation.
  • A 24-hour international event on AT and Inclusive Design.  Léonie Watson of Nomensa is planning an ambitious day-long online event divided into 4-hour slots, in which groups in different time zones can participate in online sessions.

This event was the first of what will hopefully be a series of AT Summits alongside summits on other areas of open innovation.  We’ll be watching the projects fostered at these events with interest.

A big thank you to OpenDirective for running the event, Mozilla for the venue, and The Paciello Group for sponsorship.