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** IDRAC 2014 Conference Schedule **
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IDRAC 2014 Conference Schedule

International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference

Virtual Ability®, Inc.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Babar Shahzad Chaudary (SL babar365) and

Rajeeka Ponrasa

5:30 am SLT/PDT [Introduced by: DrSWinkler]

TITLE: Alternative Navigation Assistance Aids for the Visually Impaired and Blind Persons

TOPIC: Digital technology advances have impacted building a navigation assistance system for visually impaired and blind persons. Explore a portfolio of navigation assistance under current development. Find out more about an innovative project using the 3D platform Unity for elderly assistance in living an independent life. How can 3D platforms help people with dementia and Alzheimer's as well as assist blind and visually impaired persons?            

PRESENTERS: Babar Shahzad Chaudary, Finland, is a PhD researcher in the Department of Information Processing Science, University of Oulu, Finland.  

Rajeeka Ponrasa, Finland, is a MSc student in the Department of Information Processing Science. She is also doing her Masters in Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine.

Catherine Easton (SL EleonoraFalcon)

7:00 am SLT/PDT [Introduced by: JayJay Zifanwe]

TITLE: Access to the Internet and Human Rights

TOPIC: This presentation will investigate accessibility from a legal perspective, focusing on the employment of human rights instruments to extend access.  

PRESENTER: Dr Catherine Easton, United Kingdom, is a lecturer in law at Lancaster University in the UK. Her work is in the area of Internet governance with a particular focus on accessibility and policies to support disabled people’s access to technology. She works in the area of standards development in accessible design and carries out research into the legal and policy environment relating to equal access. Catherine organises engagement events with technology developers to promote the importance of accessibility in online design. She also carries out research work into the work and position of Internet self-regulatory organisations. She is treasurer of the British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association (BILETA) and carries out editing and review responsibilities for a number of academic law and technology journals. Catherine is currently a member of the IRP steering committee; she spoke at an IRP workshop in Bali and was active in furthering the work of the IRP at the Istanbul IGF. Catherine is dedicated to promoting the aims of the IRP Coalition and building upon the excellent progress made to date on the Charter.  

David Sloan (SL bentirran)

8:30 am SLT/PDT [Introduced by: Keira Wellesley]

TITLE: From Checklist Accessibility to Accessible User Experiences


TOPIC: Welcome to an interview-style discussion about innovative work as a consultant with The Paciello Group, which helps organisations in creating accessible, exciting digital user experiences. How can accessible user experience design help us create better digital resources and products for everyone? What type of career path leads to this type of innovative, influential role?

PRESENTER: David Sloan, Scotland, joined The Paciello Group (TPG) in 2013, joining forces with Sarah Horton, co-author of the acclaimed book A Web for Everyone, to build the company's Accessible User Experience service. He provides pragmatic, practical advice to help organisations produce digital experiences that are as accessible and positive as possible to all users, regardless of disability. Previously, he spent almost 14 years as a researcher, teacher and consultant in accessibility and inclusive design at the University of Dundee in Scotland. During this time, David co-founded and led the Digital Media Access Group, one of the world's first specialist digital accessibility consultancies, and he also established the University of Dundee’s Web Accessibility Support Service in 2006. And before all that, before the era of Google Maps, David spent four years exploring the world from his desk as a cartographer with Bartholomew/HarperCollins Cartographic.

Edmund LoPresti, PhD (SL Edmondo Barbosa)

10:00 am SLT/PDT [Introduced by: Vulcan Viper]

TITLE: Assistive Technology for Computer Access

TOPIC: Learn more about how assistive technologies which can support computer use. Computer users may have difficulty operating a standard mouse or keyboard, or seeing or reading objects on the screen. The discussion will include hardware alternatives to the standard keyboard, mouse, and monitor; software adaptations to the computer; and dedicated software to make computers easier to use.

PRESENTER: Since 1995, Dr. LoPresti, United States, has been working on the development and evaluation of technology for people with disabilities. Dr. LoPresti’s past work includes alternative methods for computer access and software to assist in computer access evaluations. Currently Dr. LoPresti is working on telewellness software for people with chronic disabilities. Dr. LoPresti also provides clinical assessments and training related to alternative computer access and cognitive assistive technologies. Since 2006, Dr. LoPresti has consulted at the Hiram G. Andrews Center in Johnstown, PA, serving young adults with cognitive, physical, and sensory disabilities through a University of Pittsburgh contract with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Dr. LoPresti is past chair of the cognitive disabilities special interest group and technology transfer special interest group of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

David Baquis (SL508David)

11:30 am SLT/PDT [Introduced by: Roxie Marten]

TITLE: Frontier Technology Issues

TOPIC: The U.S. Access Board is interested in learning about new technologies that may hold promise for accessibility and people with disabilities. This narrated slide show presentation will address cutting edge research as well as examples of recent technological implementations, such as smart phones, voting systems, taxicab payment systems, digital wallets, wheelchair securement in buses, text to 9-1-1, indoor and outdoor way-finding for people with visual disabilities, ATMs and much more.

PRESENTER: David Baquis, United States, is an Accessibility Specialist with the U.S. Access Board where he provides training and technical assistance on information and communications technology accessibility. He is currently involved with updating accessibility standards and guidelines under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act. Mr. Baquis has published many articles on assistive and accessible technology. His background blends 30 years of experience in healthcare, consumer education, disability issues, technology, and public policy. Prior to his appointment at the Access Board, he worked as Director of the National Center on Hearing Assistive Technology, a program of the Hearing Loss Association of America.

1:00 pm SLT/PDT: Join us for a Mixer (social/dance)

        [Introduced by: Signing Destiny]

Gregg Vanderheiden (SL GreggV)

2:30 pm SLT/PDT [Introduced by: Barbie Alchemi]

TITLE: Auto-Personalization in Real and Second Life®

TOPIC: Auto-personalization is the process of automatically personalizing the user interface and adapting content based on user preferences. Once set up, this process makes things simple for users, public access points, and organizations accommodating their employees and the public. Learn about the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) -- and how it can provide an "auto-personalization from preferences” (APfP) capability.  

PRESENTER: Gregg Vanderheiden, United States, is a professor of Industrial and Biomedical Engineering, and director of the Trace R&D Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He co-directs Raising the Floor, an international consortium of over 50 companies and organizations building the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII). He has worked in technology and disability for over 40 years. He was a pioneer in Augmentative Communication (a term taken from his writings in 1979), and most of the initial access features for both Windows and MacOS came from his Center. His work is found in computers, phones, Automated Postal Stations, Amtrak ticket machines, and airport terminals. He co-chaired both WCAG 1.0 and 2.0 working groups, and has worked with over 50 companies and numerous government advisory & planning committees, including FCC, NSF, NIH, GSA, NCD, Access Board and White House.

Laura Hall (SL LauraMDRC)

4:00 pm SLT/PDT [Introduced by: Stepinwolf Darkstone]

TITLE: Fun for Everyone: Assistive Technology for Video Gaming

TOPIC: Gamers and others interested in interaction with the digital world can learn more about assistive technology for people with disabilities, and explore the importance of inclusion in the ever-changing culture of gaming. We will also review game elements that can make a game more accessible and inclusive (and review games that have these elements). Finally, we will review some resources for modified/adapted controllers, etc.  


PRESENTER: Laura Hall, MSW, United States, has worked in the Disability Community for over a decade. She currently serves as the Assistive Technology (AT) Information Coordinator for the Michigan Assistive Technology Project at Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. Laura is passionate about disability history, culture and pride, and the ways in which AT can foster this pride and lead to greater independence.

Gunela Astbrink (SL Sunnywasser)

5:30 pm SLT/PDT [Introduced by: Dianne Elton]

TITLE: Digital accessibility policy & practice: Case studies from Australia & the Pacific

TOPIC: There may be a gap between policy and implementation in digital accessibility. Examples will be provided of policy and practice in Australia. As a contrast, the current policy situation in the small island developing states of the Pacific region will be outlined and the need for support to make digital accessibility a reality.

PRESENTER: Gunela Astbrink, Australia, has been active in disability policy and research for 25 years and comes from a library and information management background. Gunela is a Director of the Internet Society of Australia and a member of Women With Disabilities Australia.

She has led projects at the Telematics and Disability Centre of Telia (Swedish Telecom) and the European Union-funded project, COST 219 (Telecommunications: Access for Disabled and Elderly People). She participated in the European Commission project, CARDIAC, developing a roadmap for accessible ICT and assistive technology research directions. For over 10 years, Gunela was National Coordinator of TEDICORE (Telecommunications and Disability Consumer Representation) to improve accessibility to communications technology for people with disability in Australia.

Gunela Astbrink is a member of the Advisory Board of the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet as well as a Fellow of the RSA, 21st enlightenment. She holds an adjunct senior research position in the Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems at Griffith University and teaches Information Policy and Governance to postgraduate students in Griffith University’s Department of International Business and Asian Studies. In 2013, Gunela was awarded the Christopher Newell Prize for the best journal article in the Telecommunications Journal of Australia.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Brian Kelly (SL BrianKelly Ah)

6:00 am SLT/PDT [Introduced by: CERT Mistwalker]

TITLE: Web accessibility is not (primarily) about conformance with web accessibility standards

TOPIC: Learn about the exciting work of a group of Web accessibility practitioners based in UK higher education who, since 2004, have critiqued the appropriateness of reliance on conformance with WAI's WCAG guidelines as a universal requirement for the development and deployment of web-based learning services.

Mr. Kelly will summarise work which has been presented at several international web accessibility conferences which argued that web accessibility is not an intrinsic characteristic of a digital resource but is determined by complex political, social and other contextual factors, as well as technical aspects which are the focus of WAI standardisation activities. The talk will conclude by summarising standardisation work in the UK in which the BS 8878 Web accessibility code of practice provides a process-based standard which can allow for the diverse ways in which the web is being used.

PRESENTER: Brian Kelly, United Kingdom, is the Innovation Advocate at Cetis, University of Bolton, UK. He has been involved in promoting best practices for enhancing access to Web services since attending the launch of the W3C WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) in 1997. In the early 2000s he became aware of the limitations of WCAG guidelines in e-learning. He led work in developing a framework which enabled contextual factors to be addressed. He has published several peer-reviewed papers on this approach. Subsequently the BS 8878 web accessibility code of practice was published which provide a UK standard which reflected the approaches Brian, together with other Web accessibility researchers and practitioners, had developed.

Timothy Creagan (SL 508man)

7:30 am SLT/PDT [Introduced by: AgileBill Firehawk]

TITLE: Section 508 and Accessibility

TOPIC: Learn more about the powerful and formative guidelines of the Section 508 Standards and how they impact accessibility in the digital world.

PRESENTER: Mr. Creagan, United States, is the Senior Accessibility Specialist with the U.S. Access Board. He is lead staff on the ongoing Refresh of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines. He previously served as the Designated Federal Officer for the Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee (TEITAC) which prepared and submitted a report of recommendations to the Access Board concerning the refresh of the Section 508 standards and the Section 255 guidelines. He was formerly the Director of Consumer Training for ITTATC, and before that he was the Director of Public Policy for Hearing Loss Association of America (formerly SHHH). Mr. Creagan is a nationally recognized expert on accessible electronic and information technology and telecommunications.

He has spoken and written extensively on disability rights, digital wireless telephones, Internet relay services, and IVR systems. Mr. Creagan has testified before state legislatures and multiple federal agencies on the importance of assistive technology to people with disabilities. Mr. Creagan received his J.D. from the Catholic University of America. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Notre Dame.

G. Anthony Giannoumis (SL anthonyg79)

9:00 am SLT/PDT [Introduced by: Polaris Grayson]

TITLE: A Revaluation of the Cultural Dimension of disability policy in the EU: the impact of digitization and web accessibility

TOPIC: Reflecting the commitments undertaken by the EU through the conclusion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the European Disability Strategy 2010–2020 not only gives a prominent position to accessibility, broadly interpreted, but also suggests an examination of the obligations for access to cultural goods and services. The European Disability Strategy 2010–2020 expressly acknowledges that EU action will support national activities to make sports, leisure, cultural and recreational organizations and activities accessible, and use the possibilities for copyright exceptions in the Directive 2001/29/EC (Infosoc Directive). This presentation discusses to what extent the EU has realized the principle of accessibility and the right to access cultural goods and services envisaged in the UNCRPD. Previous research has yet to explore how web accessibility and digitization interact with the cultural dimension of disability policy in the European Union. This examination attempts to fill this gap by discussing to what extent the European Union has put this cultural dimension into effect and how web accessibility policies and the digitization of cultural materials influence these efforts.

PRESENTER: Anthony Giannoumis, Norway, is involved in extensive research focusing on technology law and policy. He is currently researching the monitoring, implementation, and enforcement of ICT accessibility policies. His research interests include international governance, social regulation, and standardization, and he has also conducted research on assistive technology, and intellectual property.

He is currently an adjunct lecturer at the Department of Computer Science at Oslo and Akershus University College, a researcher with DISCIT - making persons with disabilities full citizens, and a legal and ethical advisor for Cloud4All - Cloud platforms lead to open and universal access for people with disabilities and for all. He is also a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law at Maastricht University.

Anthony has previously been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship with the Norwegian Social Research Institute (NOVA), and has been a visiting researcher at the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, the Center for Disability Law and Policy at the University of Ireland, Galway and the Faculty of Law at the University of Ireland, Maynooth.

He has conducted international health research with The Guru Charitable Foundation. In addition he has conducted public health research in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s National Program Office for Public Health Law Research, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and The Pennsylvania State University. He is a Temple University College of Health Professions M.P.H. graduate.

Gayl Hardeman (BlondieCART), iSkye Silverweb (SL iSkye Silverweb), Alice Krueger (SL Gentle Heron)

10:30 am SLT/PDT [Introduced by: Timm Short]

TITLE: Hear with Your Eyes: How It’s Done

TOPIC: In this three-part presentation, we’ll discover several easy ways to ensure the benefits of text communications in virtual world meetings and presentations. How can we provide accurate, verbatim text for meetings, conferences, presentations, and for minutes and notes? How can we make sure our obligations under federal laws requiring disability access and inclusion are met for users/participants who cannot use virtual world “voice only” communications? How can we most quickly and easily stop unintentionally excluding a large number of people from our meetings and conferences in Second Life®?


Gayl Hardeman, United States, is the owner of Hardeman Realtime, Inc. ( and provides CART services (real-time sppech-to-text) internationally to government agencies, universities, companies, schools, nonprofits, and individuals, including in virtual worlds such as Second Life®. She has been a teacher, a voice-over and musical theater actress, and a court reporter for many years, specializing in realtime services for individuals with hearing loss, English as a second language, or learning challenges. She is not only a business owner, but also trains court reporters to be able to offer these services in official capacities . Gayl has received the Distinguished Service Award from two state associations for her efforts in court reporting education. Today, Gayl presents “CART- Captioning 101” as part of this session

iSkye Silverweb, United States, is an active member of Virtual Ability, helping plan and organise Virtual Ability's two annual conferences. She trains new presenters and maintains the community's event calendars and also manages Virtual Ability's Flickr account at

Outside of Virtual Ability, iSkye is an web designer/developer and is involved in several other virtual groups with real world connections: Rockcliffe University Consortium, Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education, and BURN2, the virtual regional of Burning Man, from which the Ten Principles help keep her life well in balance. iSkye’s section of today’s session is entitled “Brainchildren Are to Be Seen, Not Just Heard.”

Alice Krueger, United States, is the head of Virtual Ability®, Inc., a 501(c)3 charitable corporation. She is also a long-time volunteer in the Virtual Ability community in Second Life®, a mom of three young adults, and fully disabled with MS (multiple sclerosis). Alice’s section of today’s presentation will focus on Virtual Ability’s inworld transcription services, including an invitation to consider becoming trained to provide transcription services across Second Life®.

Displays/ Poster Session: Making Virtual Worlds like Second Life® Accessible and Inclusive for People with Disabilities

12:00-1:00 SLT/PDT: Displays are Open to the Public

[Introduced by: Sister Abeyante]

Spend time browsing and clicking in the interactive displays set up near The Sojourner Auditorium and over on Healthinfo Island. Researched and prepared by members of the community at Virtual Ability, displays near the Auditorium focus on practical solutions and emerging approaches to full inclusion in virtual worlds like Second Life®. Exhibits and displays on Healthinfo Island discuss accessibility standards and solutions. Tap into the lived experience and expertise of Virtual Ability’s members and explore recommendations and insights which can make virtual worlds more accessible and inclusive for all. Displays available throughout the Conference. Click on each display to receive free information about the topic.

Alice Krueger (SL Gentle Heron)

1:30 pm SLT/PDT [Introduced by: Zen Arado]

TITLE: Components of Web and Virtual World Accessibility

[Joel Foner, our original speaker, was unavailable due to unplanned circumstances. We are honored to instead welcome Alice Krueger.]

TOPIC: Having an accessible website or virtual world is not entirely up to the developers. This presentation will tell you about different people and technology components that each have a vital role in providing Web or virtual world accessibility.

PRESENTER: A confessed Luddite when it comes to understanding technology more advanced than a mechanical pencil, Gentle Heron has learned a great deal about accessibility in virtual worlds by working with assistive technology users in the Virtual Ability community and studying the WCAG guidelines.

Tom Boellstorff (SL Tom Bukowski)

3:00 pm SLT/PDT [Introduced by: ArcticPixy]

TITLE:  Bytes and Pixels: The Social Impact of Digital Inclusion

TOPIC: Join anthropologist, professor, and author Tom Boellstorff for this audience-engaging discussion format presentation that explores emerging understandings of the social impact of digital inclusion. Submit your questions in local chat (text), prefaced by “QUESTION” so that you can share pertinent observations, raise key questions, and deepen your understanding of the social aspects of digital life.

PRESENTER: University of California in Irvine Professor Tom Boellstorff, United States, is a researcher and author, including of the book, “Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: a Handbook of Method“, that he coauthored with Bonnie Nardi, Celia Pearce and T. L. Taylor (Princeton University Press, 2012).  Tom is an experienced anthropologist and leading expert in using ethnographic methods to study online virtual worlds, including both game and nongame environments. He is active in Second LIfe®, including in several major academic research projects which leverage the capabilities of the virtual environment.  

Audience Members, Presenters, and Staff of IDRAC 2014 are invited to join us for a fun and interactive “After-Party”

4:30-5:30 pm SLT/PDT

Take a quick stretch then put on your party duds and polish your avatar’s dance shoes to join us for a Virtual Ability® gathering filled with dancing, chatting, laughter, music, and interaction. Meet new friends. Find out more from presenters. Discover how immersive virtual worlds like Second LIfe® truly bring people together and create professional and interpersonal relationships. No cover charge either! Come one, come all.

Special Thanks

It takes many to make an international conference like IDRAC a success. On behalf of Virtual Ability, we would like to say a special thank you to: