Hello everybody. Welcome to today's special PEAT Talks. This is our virtual speaker series from the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology. We hold these on the third Thursday of every month, and PEAT Talks, in general, showcases the various organizations and individual events, where the work and innovation that are advancing accessible technology pertaining to the workplace. My name is Josh Christianson. I'm the project director for PEAT, and I will be hosting today's conversation.
Before we get started, I'm going to quickly review a few logistics. First and foremost, I want to let folks know that we're going to have time for Q&A, and I'd love for you to utilize the chat window there that you see on the screen, and you can use that to interject with any questions, and I will moderate that for our guests, so please feel free to jump in there. You can really use it at any time. We might use it during the conversation. If you have a question, we might save it. We'll definitely save some time for Q&A at the end, so please feed your questions into the chat window.
You can also use the chat window if you're having any technical difficulties. We'll do our best to help resolve any issues or give you pointers. And just as a head's up, you can download the presentation from our website, PEATworks.org, and an archived recording will be posted online following today's event. Also, for those of you that like to multitask, we'll be live tweeting today's event from our @PEATworks account; that's @ symbol P-E-A-T-w-o-r-k-s. So feel free to follow along the conversation there, and you can see all the posts using the hashtag PEATtalks, two Ts and an S at the end. So thank you for that.
This is a very special PEAT Talks, the third Thursday of the month happens to coincide with Global Accessibility Awareness Day, so happy GAAD everyone. And in celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Vivienne Conway, who is going to be discussing the highlights and top trends that emerged from last month's Web4All conference. Vivienne is the director of Web Key IT, which is based in Perth, Australia, and so we have to give her a big thank you and appreciation, because she has woken up a little before 4:00 a.m. her time to work with us and share her take on the web for all conference. So thank you Vivienne, for being awake and alert and joining us today.
I had the privilege of attending this year's conference, and so I will be chiming in with questions and pointers and observations as we go, to offer my own take on the event; the papers, the talks, the events that took place. But we're really excited to have Vivienne here today. Thank you, Vivienne, for joining us. We’re going to jump in, before I turn it over to Vivienne, with a quick polling question that is about the nature and start of this day itself. So we've pulled up the poll. You should be able to see it on your screen there. I'll read it out there. "What inspired accessibility expert Jennison 'Assian'" — and I'm not sure of the pronunciation.
Asuncion — Jennison Asuncion — thank you — "to start Global Accessibility Awareness Day over six years ago?" You have three choices here. You can go ahead and vote while I'm reading over them. So it says A, his colleagues encouraged him to do it; B, he got the idea while attending an accessibility conference; C, he read a tweet that PEAT took interest? So I'll give you a few seconds to fill out which one you think. And no Google it. You can't Google. You just got to guess here. Which one do you think inspired Jennison to start Global Accessibility Awareness Day six years ago? Either, A, colleagues encouraged him; B, got the idea from a conference, or C, he read a tweet?
So we can go ahead and close it up. Looks like most folks went with B, 80% of you said B, 13 said C, and a few on A. The correct answer is actually C. He read a tweet that PEAT had entered. So he was just around the twitter-verse, saw a tweet that led to a blog, and then got in touch with the author of the blog, Joe Devon. So they started this day six years ago, and I have been pleased to be part of it the last few years and see it grow, and it's great to celebrate across the globe, pushing to awareness accessibility.
We at PEAT know that awareness in and of itself is really one of the biggest obstacles, because lots of people know how to do this. We should do this. It would be good and easy to include from the start, so always good to push awareness. So there's the poll question. We'll move on from that.
Before I turn it over to Vivienne, I'll just give you a brief overview of what we'd like to cover today. I again want to encourage people to use the chat function and chime in with questions. We'll try to make it as interactive as we can. Vivienne and I are both very open to an informal discussion, so don't hesitate to write your comments and questions in there. But overall today we're going to cover what is the Web4All conference; what was the theme for this year and why, it is an annual conference. We'll talk about some general highlights and insights from this year's conference that we won't have time to kind of dig into the details but give you an idea of what is presented their, and then we will spotlight and narrow our focus on a few of the discussions and papers that were presented, and events that we think really relate well, not just to this year's theme but also to the PEAT mission itself. And, again, as I mentioned, we will leave time for Q&A.
So with that, I'm going to turn it over to Vivienne to chime in and join us. And I hope you have a cup of coffee, Vivienne. Good morning, and thank you for joining us.
Good morning everybody, and, yes, I've got a cup of tea here. I thought I'd better have something with a bit of sugar to get me awake and figuring out what I'm doing. I hope that everybody can hear me properly, and I hope also that at this ridiculous time of the morning that I actually make sense.
We will be very forgiving, this group. Vivienne, you are breaking up just a little bit more than our tester. So I don't know if maybe it's the mic or you can move anything. We could hear you, but it was a little crackly, if you can adjust something. But go ahead and we'll give at shot.
Okay. Let me know if this is any better. I put the mic a little bit closer, so we'll see if that's better.
I want to start with, first of all about what W4A is, what it's all about, why it even exists and help you understand that it's the kind of conference that we think that people would like to go to. And the Web For All, known as W4A has been collocated with the Worldwide Web Conference now for 14 years, and it's always collocated with the Worldwide Web Conference. And one of the things that we try and do every year is to hold some kind of item that brings the Worldwide Web, the W3C, people into a collaboration with the W4A group, and sometimes it's a debate. The last two years it's been an accessibility hack that has been done with PEAT, and that's pretty exciting. And we'll get to cover a little bit about what we did about that further into the presentation.
In 2004 it started as a workshop, and it was to try to make the internet more accessible for people with disabilities. And it showcases a number of new innovations, a number of research topics. There's a challenge that is sponsored by the Paciello Group, and that's the things that are about to become marketable, so often, really, new creations, such as Braille that you can wear in your mouth as a device, all sorts of new things that are able to grow to the marketplace.
Each of W4A's papers, as you can see in the slides, has been downloaded an average 360 times, with 4.2 citations. This is a really good citation rate. And with a great international distribution, we think it makes W4A an idea place to submit research, but also for other people who are interested to start to find some of the research that is happening for things that they're interested in or for things that they would like to get more information on. So the papers are all arrived, they're all citable, and they're published through ACM. And the theme every year for the conference reflects emerging trends in web accessibility, and the idea is to encourage researchers to look for more innovative solutions. That's a little bit about W4A.
The theme this year was "The Future of Accessible Work," and I think that this works very well in with what PEAT do. The idea behind it was looking at how the potential of changing work environment could improve or, alternately, make worse the about of people who might have disabilities, but, also, how we can do something about enabling people to find and maintain more meaningful employment. We've probably all seen things where people with disabilities are often offered work that is less than meaningful. And what we wanted to do is to see if there's some way that we can start to bring about some change there. We see that organizations and employers are starting to embrace the benefits of employing people with disabilities and bringing them into their organization, and we also realize that the human resource management needs to change in order for this to be accommodated better.
This here, W4A, received 32 submissions from 13 different countries, huge range of topics, and we're going to be having a look at some of these today. There were 5 technical papers and 16 communication papers. Technical paper generally relates to, oh, at least a year's worth of research work that goes into creating one of those. So it's often sort of an ongoing research topic and with fairly in-depth analysis of the results.
The communication papers, alternately, are around four-page papers, and they deal with a topic, and they're not necessarily so statistical as a technical paper or with as much technical jargon in them. So they're often papers that people want to cite and use in their own research and that they can actually use in the workplace. So that's sort of the two kinds of papers. All of the papers from the W4A are available from the W4A website, and we'll be making sure that you get a link to that website.
So I want to cover a little bit about some of the highlights from the conference, and some of the things that you might want to check out about the conference. And I've got myself a little bit ahead of where I want to be. That's okay. Get it right in the right spot. So we looked at some of the papers that we think that you might be particularly interested in. There was a paper on working from home, and the need to shift in management style. And there was some really interesting research that was cited in, some that people found quite controversial. And the author of that paper looked at how we need to shift and some of the misconceptions over the actual — what's the word I'm thinking of — how effective we are working from, how much time we waste, et cetera, and have some really interesting statistics there.
One of the papers looked at the need to implement a more holistic organizational approach to accessibility. There was a paper on web standards, how they relate to the Internet of Things, going past the idea that the internet fridge that order your groceries to how the Internet of Things in the workplace can make things change.
Cross-cultural guidelines is something that we don't often think about when we're thinking about accessibility. We need to keep in mind the differences in people from different nationalities within your workplace and the cultural issues that we need to be aware of.
And, also, there was a really good paper on evaluating the accessibility of the job search and the interview process for people who are blind and visually impaired, and there's some good takeaways from that. There was a list of things that were particularly interesting in the thing that is we have to do to accommodate people with different disabilities in the interviewing stage.
Vivienne, can I jump in here?
I just wanted to ask for folks, that's just a sampling of a lot the cool stuff that was going on at the Web4All. I wouldn't get Vivienne go into a lot of detail, because they didn't quite hit the sweet spot of workplace accessible technology that PEAT's focused on. But for anyone that's interested in accessibility, there are a wide range of people discussing the gains that are being made, and you're usually seeing some of the cutting-edge stuff that's coming out of academia, and maybe it's on its first pilot or it's second go-round, and so it really is a great lens into what developers and designers are doing to push the envelope around accessibility in a wide range of areas.
Thanks, Josh, and, yes, that's right. If I had five hours I would go into details of all of the papers and all of the incredible stuff that was happening, but we wanted to give you just a little bit of a teaser or an idea of some of the kinds of things that you might see.
The things that I'm going to be focusing on today are — there's five particular things that we want to have a look at. There was a keynote address by David Masters that I'm going into. There's paper on creating accessible local government, and the process, actually, behind actually creating a lot government and website for a local government that is accessible; the crowd work accessibility problem; an innovation called "Gage the Web," and an accessibility hack itself.
So the first one I want to look at is the keynote address by David Master. David Masters works for Microsoft. He's with Microsoft here in Australia, and he's very involved in accessibility with Microsoft, and he spent a couple of months at the Microsoft campus in the U.S., and particularly looking at Microsoft's journey towards inclusion. And I'll put on the slide a little bit of an abstract about his paper, and it's about the journey. Their overriding goal is to try to increase the number of employees with disabilities at Microsoft.
And there's four pillars that make up their program there, and they include providing accessible and mutable products and services, pushing the boundaries of what's possible through innovation, developing partnerships to continue to improve the Microsoft experience, and inclusive hiring practices. Because of this, they've seen a growth in accessibility and assistance technology hacks at the annual Hackathon. It started off at the Hackathon of having ten accessibility hacks to, this past year, there's been over a hundred. And they also have a disability scholarship for college-bound students, and not only does this encourage students to go and stay in college, but it creates a future candidate pipeline for the company. So I thought that was particularly interesting. That's that.
And so a few of the things that they have, David stopped about standards and business conduct. This is a compulsory training that they have every year at Microsoft, and every Microsoft employee takes this is each year, and it includes information about their roles in being ethical, financially responsible, and working in a legally compliant way. And last year was the first time that accessibility was the first year this was featured as part of this training. And it was deliberately put as first module of the training to emphasize the importance of supporting people of all abilities as good business practice. And it also emphasized the legal requirements do so in many parts of the world.
of the ideas that they have is to shuffle drivers for the Redmond-based campus all have training on disability etiquette and safety features of helping people with disabilities. The aim is to make moving around the Microsoft campus and the Microsoft organization as seamless as possible.
talked a little bit about — I'm just moving my mic a little closer.
if you've able. It gets a little staticky when it gets away. But when you pull it closer it is a little clearer. So I don't know how much of a hassle it is, but if you can try to stay close to the mic, the audio is much better.
actually on my headset, so it's something around. I don't know. It might just be the line or something, but I'll try to keep it as close as possible. The Microsoft learning tools are one of the things that they've recently brought in. Those are free tools, and they're available through One Note. One of the ideas is it improves the reading and writing for people regardless of their age or ability, and that's available through One Note. You can go and look on there at onenote.com/learningtools.
Another thing is the Microsoft Skype translator, and this is a voice translator that currently works in eight languages. And the text translator is available for more than 50 languages for instant messaging. I thought that was pretty amazing stuff. It uses machine learning, and the more you use it the better it gets, much like using Dragon. And that's available at Skype.com/en/featureskypetranslator. And as I said, we will make sure that you've got all these inks.
Another one is the Microsoft seeing AE project, which is done in collaboration with Pivot Head. And this combines APIs from the Microsoft cognitive services with the imaging performance and power of Pivot Head Smart, so that a person who is visually impaired can better understand who and what's going on around us it. It uses glasses and it interswipes the touchpad along the iPhone — on the eyewear to take a photo. The eyewear analyzes and translates that image to speech and describes what the person is doing, how old they are, which is amazing, and what emotion they're expressing. The user can take an image of text from a nutrition label to a news article and the eyewear will read it to the user.
I was just thinking in how many ways that would come in handy for people who have visual disability. And it would be amazing, I just think, you know, when they go to the grocery store there's obvious any no Braille or anything in the grocery store, and being able to read nutrition labels. But you think about in the workplace too, and just getting around the workplace, understanding what's going on, that's pretty amazing.
asked David to tell me what's been happening at Microsoft since the W4A, and Microsoft is putting on a number of forums, working with Australian Network on Disability here in Australia, and direct engagement with organizations and state education departments. So through the One Note tool in particular that Microsoft is doing a lot of work. And W4A actually enabled Microsoft to be in contact with a lot of researchers that they hadn't been able to.
got some new initiatives they're looking at Disability [indiscernible], which is a dedicated channel for people with disabilities to get technical advice related to Microsoft features, and inclusive hiring programs, and a new approach to inclusive design that makes sure all Microsoft products and services have built-in needs for a devise diverse community. So that's sort of around David's paper. He did one of the keynotes, and I know, for me, that was one of the really highlights of it.
like to look now at one of the other papers. It was on creating accessible local governments in the process. Local governments in Australia all require a disability access and inclusion plan, which has to be submitted to our State Disability Services Commission. And there's a section in that on information access, as well as employment and a host of other requirements.
One of our cities, because we sort of have, I guess it's like a suburb, but they're actually cities, it is Cockburn and it has a policy for equal inclusion, and it employs a disability access and inclusion specialist. What they wanted was that their new websites — they're creating two new ones — would be reflective of their inclusive policies, and ensure that they don't inadvertently lock people out of either their physical or their digital premises. And it was clear from working with City of Cockburn that they want to make sure that their digital world reflects their physical approach to accessibility. And when you go into their offices their, you will see that there are definitely people with disabilities there that are being employed. And their idea, once again as we mentioned earlier, is to make sure that their employment is meaningful work. And there's a number of steps that they have found, and they have some key asks factors on how you can actually create an accessible audio — a accessible audio — sorry, I was just looking at the chat their, hoping everybody's okay. They wanted to make sure that their website was completely accessible. And they had rather an innovative approach, and it's changed their entire business process.
They had an accessibility expert on their tender panel, and in order to choose an accessible developer, they found that having an expert on the tender panel, that expert was able to ask the really difficult questions of the different tenderers who had been short listed, because they had asked them for examples of accessible websites, you know, so that they could look at what the developers thought were accessible, realizing — the expert did an analysis and realized none of the websites that had been put up there as examples were actually accessible. And so they were able to ask those difficult questions of the tenderers; whereas the organization itself without the accessibility knowledge probably would have got a bit of after what we call a snow job. They would have simply believed what people said, when it turned out that what they were doing was just running automated scans and saying, well, you know, this is really good, and assuming that nobody would actually have the right questions.
So the websites that they're developing have been tested really, really thoroughly by people with disabilities, as well as by technical experts, and they've actually — they're about to launch those websites, and they are compliant to at least the double A with some of the triple A levels of [indiscernible] guidelines. And they'll actually be putting accreditation stickers on there that it's been certified. So we thought that was really interesting for you to hear about how they wanted to have an approach that translated the accessibility of the work in the organization through to their digital presence, because we often see so much where the physical shop front is obviously accessible.
You'd no sooner put up a building these days that didn't have a wheelchair ramp on disabled access restrooms than you would fly to the moon, but for some reason we seem to think it's perfectly okay to have an accessible website, forgetting about number of people that access our organizations through the website. So that's one of the reasons why we've put that in there for you, so hopefully you found that interesting.
And I will commend you, Vivienne, people should know you helped lead up the effort. That's great. Do you know, do they have any plans to be able to kind of track any of the employment changes or how accessibility has — how the games of accessibility on the website have impacted its use by folks?
Yeah, they're actually doing some really, really cool stuff there. What they did is we did a benchmark analysis of the old website before they started the new one so that we could actually do a full analysis and understand how inaccessible that website was, because it was really dated and horrible. And they've been tracking their customer service complaints and their employment statistics with their statistics of the number of applications they receive for employment. And so the next research they're doing, they've had the new websites analyzed, of course, as well, and they can compare them. But they're also comparing their statistics at reception for the complaints and questions that they get to see how much it will cut down on costs. Also the download cost, they are analyzing all sorts of things because their elected members want to make sure that the money they've spent on creating the accessible websites actually has some financial benefit. It's very hard, obviously, to do an ROI on accessibility, but I think this research that they're doing is going to come a long way in doing that, because they'll be able to do some real comparisons.
There are some things that you can't compare; for example, if somebody is having trouble finding information on planning that they need, they may not tell the person at perception that that's what they're complaint is about. They may phone the Planning Department and then , but they find a channel is much true as they can so they can keep statistics.
And they also want to see whether or not it's related to more people with disabilities applying for employment within the organization. And there was a very interesting note from one of our testers who is blind from birth. She loved the website so much, she said it made her want to move to Cockburn. And I thought there was nothing that could have pleased the city of Cockburn than hearing that, is the fact that the attitude that she got from the website made her feel included and made her feel that that was someplace that she would actually like to live.
That's an interesting point.
So I thought that was interesting.
Sorry. Sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to underline that point before we move on, because I've been to some HR technology conferences, and they've talked about how people looking to move to places, towns, cities, but also work at places, you know, they are drawn to places that are inclusive, not just around accessibility of people with disabilities, but across the board, that especially younger generations want to be somewhere where the norm is including people from the beginning and doing so. So that's great for your township, and thanks for sharing that with us.
You're welcome. As I said, it's been an interesting journey. We've been working with them for about a year, and so they are just about to go into the next stages, which is their library and a number of other things. But it's created an atmosphere within the organization itself, from the elected members right down to everybody in the company has been trained in accessibility, and it's created a really different atmosphere within the employment in that organization. So it's worth looking at, and, as I said, you know, hoping that people from the ongoing research that there will be some more stats that they can use and you'll be able to sort of see, you know, get some ideas that you can feed back to your own organizations on the fact that there is some work that you can do in understanding the return on investment that you might have from the work that you do in accessibility. So hope that that translates okay.
The next paper I want to have a look at is called the one called "The Crowd Work Accessibility Problem." This paper was — noted on the slide — nominated for the best communication paper, and it really was very interesting. I'll just a mention a little bit that there are awards for the different papers. There's a best communication paper. There's a best technical paper. Google sponsors a doctoral consortium and gives some money towards doctoral students to attend the conference. IBM supports the people with disabilities awards and provides funding for people with disabilities to attend W4A, and as well as that, the student grant that helps students without the financial means be able to attend W4A and participate in the conference. But even more importantly, to have their work recognized, so they can receive up to $500 U.S. help with costs. I think the Google one, you get about $2,500 and that's for two students. So if there are students listening to this who would like to go to W4A, there's a number of ways that you can get financial assistance to help you go.
With this paper on the crowd work accessibility problem is that it was nominated for best communication. But it was really interesting. It looked at the growing popularity of crowd work and why it would be attractive to people with disabilities and whether or not it was an accessible process for them. And so looking at employment you think, okay, well people with disabilities, the whole idea of crowd work, you know, where you can do it from wherever you are, where you can pick it up, where you can be casual, work on contracts, all sorts of different way that is you can do things.
And what they found, they looked at Amazon Mechanical Turk and they tested 120 different tasks from a number of common types. They found that only 2% of the hundred tasks that were sampled were fully compliant with [indiscernible] to even level A, which is a bit scary. Eight of the 25 level-A guidelines were violated. 98% of the survey that is people conducted were potentially inaccessible. All of the surveys had issues for people with visual impairments, and 56% of the surveys affected people with motor impairment. So you think, okay, you know, this is something that could really help people with disabilities, but basically the jobs that are posted on Amazon Mechanical Turk are pretty much inaccessible.
So the paper identified three possible approaches that can be taken in order to change the situation. The first was to encourage requesters to make crowd work more accessible, and in doing so, what you could sort of just actually encourage them to make their tasks more accessible. You could also show the economic impact of segregating people with disabilities, thinking about how much productivity an organization can gain by harnessing this labor force, and influencing larger organizations that heavily rely on crowd sourcing. So when there are organizations that public a lot of jobs through crowd sourcing, talking to them about the fact that they're missing a large part of the labor force.
The second approach could be to design technologies to recommend accessible crowd work for people with disabilities. So you could implement the engine into a web browser plug-in, you could filter out tasks with many accessibility errors, thereby never suggesting such a task to a person with a disability, so personalizing it, and letting the user specify the levels of disability for personalizing the tasks that they want to be able to access.
The third approach is to automatically fix accessibility problems on crowd work interfaces. Semi-automated technologies can be implemented as a two-stage process. The first is accessibility problems on crowd task interfaces can be automatically identified by using an automated checker, and then the identified problems, via crowd sourcing or and/or automated methods, can be fixed. So if a label tab is mixes or a form tab element you can inject an appropriate HTML element with crowd sourcing or machine learning.
So those are the three approaches that the paper, in their research, found that may help to make this crowd sourcing work for people with disabilities.
Vivienne, can I chime in and say that the growth of crowd sourcing is exponential, and so it is important to get ahead of this curve. I think most folks know that being able to work from home is a big plus for people with disabilities, but as more and more technologies take advantage of that, we have to make sure those are accessible too. So it's exciting to see, and I think PEAT's going to look more into that as we go into the future, because we definitely want to be ahead of and helping develop these technologies. Thank you.
Yeah. I thought it was cool. There is some work being done in Japan IBM, who have been doing some stuff with crowd sourcing website experiences, so a user can click on a button on a website, and somebody, through crowd sourcing, does sort of an overlay. So says there's an image — the person reports an image there with no alternative text. Through crowd sourcing that gets fixed, so the next time a person goes to that website, this overlay provides alternative text for the image, or better linked text that explains the purpose of the link. So there's a lot of work being done through crowd sourcing, and I think it's pretty cool stuff.
The next thing I want to look at is one that was pretty fascinating, and I know, Josh, that you enjoyed this one as well. It's one called Gaze the Web, and it's a gaze-controlled web browser, and this one won the Judge's Award for the Paciello Group Challenge. As I mentioned at the start of this that there is a challenge, and these are things that may be commercially viable and getting very close to coming out in commercial areas.
We've seen things such as Braille readers that you can wear in your mouth. We've seen all sorts of really interesting things come out of the Paciello Challenge. This year one of our favorites was Gaze the Web. So this is a web browser. It's open source, available through GitHub, and it's a framework which adopts web interfaces for gaze interaction and where the input events, such as your mouse and your keyboard interactions, are revised to eye movements.
So previously what's happened is that Gaze facilities have emulated the mouse and the keyboard interaction, as opposed to it being designed for Gaze. So there's a really important shift here. This invention supports all browsing operations, such as search navigation and bookmarks all by eye gaze. And it's currently in some clinical studies for neuromuscular disease, spinal cord injury, and Parkinson's on patients. So the purpose is to actually build hands-free web interfaces and increase the web accessibility for Gaze where motor impairment may hinder easy hand and body motion.
The major challenge has been to reliably identify the web elements and include eye-tracking events. And currently, you know, gaze emulation doesn't work all that well because they're trying to emulate what a keyboard or a mouse would do. So this is an open framework, and the actual keyboard interactions revised to actual eye movement, and the idea is to provide more utility and to control the eye — to build the eye control interfaces.
Now, of note, Josh enjoyed playing with this one. I was completely useless at it, and I tried and tried, and apparently it had to do with two things; one is the fact that I wear glasses. And they're currently working on trying to watch the reflection from people's glasses. And also, you've got to watch the actual seated height of the person. So because I'm not terribly tall, which is probably an understatement, and I wear glasses, it made it less effective for me. And I watched other people using it, and they had a much easier time with it than I did.
But I think it's one of those things, much like using Dragon and different things, you know, for voice activation, it's something that you have to learn how to do. And I don't think that, you know, at this point, that I would probably be able to use something like that easily, but obviously if, you know, if it was necessary, if I had an eye problem or a motor problem, that I would. But people were able to be really, really good with it, and to be able to bookmark things. I mean, I had trouble even moving it. But people were able to do some amazing stuff. And, Josh, how did you find it?
Yeah, it was very interesting. And, you know, as we noted a lot of the stuff is kind of in development, so they definitely have some kinks to work out. But I know how important, you know, alternatives to the mouse are, whether it's keyboard navigation or variety of assistive technologies that have been involved for folks with motor issues, and this just seemed really promising. I thought it was going to be much more of a challenge to make it work.
I thought it would maybe strain my eyes, because when I watched someone doing it, it appeared, you know, you could see then looking at the site, and then when they focused it would open it. And it was just — I thought it would be a strain on the eyes. But I actually found, with a little bit of practice, it was pretty self-explanatory and easy, and it was a wild experience to be able to navigate and click around a site just using the gaze of your eyes. So I thought it was super interesting. And, again, development needs to be made, but a lot of promise there.
Yeah. I thought it was pretty cool. Okay.
And I want to have a look at the accessibility hack now. This hack was really different from a lot of hacks that I have seen and heard about, in the fact that this was not just for what we call the "techy people." This hack involves teams that had all sorts of skill sets. And so people had a color that related to their particular skill set, so we had people with disabilities on the team. We had people that were to design. We had people that had the technical know-how, so a good range of skill sets. And we didn't have as much time as we would have liked. We really hope that in the next year, you know, we'll hope to run it again, and we want to be able to open the hack up even more, and perhaps to have it for a full day, a bit of hope.
We were very fortunate to have some wonderful prizes. The two winning teams both got Xbox sets, which made everybody happy. But it was really good. And one of the users is a person — it's one of my team who has been blind from birth, and she was very, very nervous about participating in the hack. And she loved it so much that she plans to go to the W4A conference again next year, which next year is going to be in Lyon. And she wants to go mainly because she wants to participate in the hack again.
That's awesome to hear.
And nothing could please us more.
Yeah, that's awesome to hear. It was a great day. I'll plug in my two cents and say that we learned a lot. It was awesome working with Vivienne to get this in, and we had great hosts, and we had good sponsors. People got cool prizes. The various winning teams got Xboxes, which was awesome. But I do think the best part of it was just the learning that the teams had, the fact that a group of different experiences, different levels of insight, we would intentionally put them together into those groups to help solve problems, and it really — people enjoyed themselves, and that was great to see. And we try to facilitate that, and we have great judges going around asking question and supporting. We get support from the developer teams. And I think you could tell that the participants were enjoying themselves. And also, maybe more importantly, you know, small changes can have big impacts, so we've compiled a list.
They came up with some solutions for how to change things, and this is an open-source tool that's very widely used across the globe in workspace. It can be used a lot for kind of assessment platforms, whether it's job assessments or surveys on the job, learning systems within an organization, so widely used. And people came up with fixes and solutions. And we didn't have a ton of time. With any hack you have some technical difficulties. We also came up with a punch list of just easy things that people didn't have time to fix but they noted were wrong. And so we're going to circle back with the company there. Super excited to have this expertise and boost their accessibility knowledge.
And much like the hack we did a year ago with another open source technology, you know, when these are implemented, millions and millions of users will be impacted by the work of that day, and the product itself will be accessible, more accessible, and hopefully accessible to all, which is the goal. Another couple of quick hits I would say that we always like to do is see — we bring people to the hack that may not be accessibility experts, and so this year the survey, after the accessibility hack, 85% of the people that were kind of listed as having no to low accessibility expertise said that the experience in this Hackathon was going to make them include accessibility next time they sat down to develop or design a product. So that's really exciting to see, that growing the base of people raising awareness that we're on the accessibility day. So it was a great event, and we're excited.
We actually will have a blog up on it in the next week or two, so you should check out our website at PEATworks.org, and you can be sure you get it if you sign up for our newsletter. It will be in our next newsletter, which comes out in June. So you can go to our website, PEATworks.org, scroll down and sign up for the newsletter, and that way you'll be sure and get that blog and others, which kind of highlights the game.
But it was a great event, and we look forward to doing that with other folks, and promoting accessibility, not just to employers and users but to developers themselves, because it really is a great skill set for people to have and know and learn, and you will be more attractive out there in the technology world. But we also know that's the place to have the biggest impact and really have folks designing from the beginning, with universal design in mind. So that was cool.
I think we're at the end of our highlights, yes. We want to say, if we have a little bit of time for people, if they have questions, you can use the chat window there. I have got a question that came through, and I will encourage people if you're on if you're on and want to use the chat window, please put your question in there, and we'll be happy to try to address them. But, Vivienne, let me throw one out to you we have here, which is just, you know, I would say of all the highlights we discussed today, of all the good things that came out of Web4All, what do you think was the most important to you or kind of what do you take away and plan to apply in your own work around accessibility as it relates to employment?
Yeah, that's a really good question, because I've been going to the W4A conference since 2011, when it was held in India. And I think what's nicest to see is, in the different countries, to be able to have an opportunity to talk researchers and participants in the conference and to find out what is actually happening in every conference. And it's really important to understand that what we're doing is not isolated to our particular area of expertise or our particular country or our particular profession, but that it's something worldwide and that it's something that we're working on together, and that everybody in the accessibility community is committed to improving things for people with disabilities.
And when you go to a conference such as this and you hear all the great papers and you hear all the wonderful research that's happening, what it does is it empowers you to go and have sort of a fresh impetus to put more work into what you're doing, and makes you feel really positive about the work you're doing, whether you're an organization that's trying to improve your own accessibility or whether it's you're trying to incorporate programs of accessibility, it is empowering and it's exciting, and it's encouraging, and I think that's what I took away from it this year, because it was [inaudible].
Yeah. Well, speaking of empowering and encouraging, I want to take a minute to plug our next month's PEAT Talk. Ted Drake from Intuit, who was actually one of our judges at the Accessibility Hack, he's going to join us on Thursday, June 15th, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Vivienne, we won't expect you to join at the middle of the night, but you can watch the archive later when it's posted.
But he's going to talk about why job seekers need additional brand, and he's going to focus on some case studies and how several people with disabilities leverage social media and their kind of footprint within — on the web to kind of leverage that to successful careers. And one of them is the founder of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, so he's really, going to look at how Jennison consciously and intentionally started to craft his own brand, and how that really helped him. And today, I mean, his full title is chief accessibility officer in charge of accessibility at LinkedIn. So that obviously worked out pretty good for him.
But, so, Ted will take us through some examples, and so I think it will be a really good how-to and empowering to folks, whether you're an advocacy organization or a job seeker yourself, to learn how and why this makes a big difference. So I wanted the plug that there.
Otherwise, I want to give a special thank you to Vivienne, not just for waking up and joining us today at an unearthly hour, but also for all the work around Hackathon. You put together a great conference and were a joy to work with, and I really appreciated what we were able to pull off there, so thank you so much for that.
To all of you who took time to join us and celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, thank you and hope you keep it up and help spread the word about accessibility. Thank you, Vivienne, and I hope the rest of you have a great day. And you get to go back to sleep, Vivienne.
Yeah. One thing I'd like to mention is that the website is up already for W4A for next year, and W4A next year will be held in Lyon. It was in Lyon a few years ago, and it's going to be a really cool conference. There's a lot of new stuff that they want to do, and I know that I really enjoyed it when I went to Lyon for it a few years ago. So I'd encourage you to have a look at the website and to see, you know, what's going to happen. There will be a much earlier call for papers, so if there's stuff that you'd like to research and like to think about, have a look at the W4A website for 2018.
Awesome. Yes, we just put that up in the chat section. It will be on the PowerPoint, which we will distribute when this is posted in the archive. But I, too, would strongly encourage people to check that out and spread the word so we can continue to spread accessibility awareness. Thank you.