2009 CIC IT Accessibility and Usability Working Group Annual Summer Conference Proceedings
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>> I'm delighted that we have Howard Rosenbaum here to give the keynote speech. Howard is the Associate Dean in the School of Library and Information Sciences; he's an Associate Professor and as well the Director of the Management Information Systems Program. I asked someone that I know knows Howard if there were any details about Howard's life they would like to give and they said you need to ask Howard and I haven't had a chance to do that; so if there's something that Howard wants to tell us specifically about how he found his way through his chosen profession and an interest in issues of accessibility, he can do that as part of his presentation. We're running a tiny bit ahead but if you don't mind Howard would you be willing to start now? Thank you so very much. This is Howard Rosenbaum.
[ Audience clapping ]
>> Howard Rosenbaum: Good morning everybody. It's great to see you all bright and early. I was a little surprised when I saw the schedule for this conference had the first person speaking at 7:45. It's not typical; places I go to conferences we start at 9 or 10--civilized hour but okay.
>> You're here.
>> Howard: No there, not here. So what I'm going to be doing is providing some thoughts that are the result of years of hanging around with people who are involved both in thinking hard about accessibility and thinking hard about usability. I'm going to state a fairly general level because I know that for the rest of the conference you'll be dealing with very specific issues and I will try to put some of those specific issues into context as I talk. So what I would like to do is just start off with a general observation; that we're doing a lot of hard work but we still have a lot of problems.
Accessibility standards, interesting but they're not working very well; usability practice--I know some people who are deeply involved in the usability world, somebody who's on the program committee for Sid Kigh [assumed spelling] and has been involved with Kigh for years and years and years; and they're having what you might call a crisis of confidence, trying to understand how to adapt, what they have done successfully for many years to a new and rapidly changing environment. To get a sense of that new and rapidly changing environment I'm going to comment briefly on several trends.
One is a general movement that we're seeing towards ubiquity and pervasiveness in dealing with our technologies. Second, an idea that design is moving towards the edges and I'll explain what that is; but since I had sort of a lame title for the whole thing, I thought I might try to throw something a little edgy into the subtopics. And then there is an accessibility dilemma at the production end that I would like to comment on. And then try to end on a more hopeful note by talking about possibilities which are from my reading are being lumped under the general area of holistic accessibility and usability. And I'll just tell you a brief story about how I became more closely involved in this kind of work.
Several years ago we had a student graduate from our Master's of Library Science Program and head off into the world; and after a series of jobs he ended up as the webmaster at Indiana State University. He did that for about two years and was in e-mail contact and would come down and periodically visit, and he was getting very bored. He was also having a difficult time in dealing with the politics of that particular organization at that particular time. So he decided to come back to SLIS and get a specialist degree which is 30 credits post Master's. I worked on an independent study with him to design a workshop on accessibility and this is the time that 508 was just beginning to grab people's attention. So we worked for a whole semester; he did most of the work I was guiding him to develop a fairly detailed syllabus for a 1 and 1-half credit hour workshop that we were going to offer in the summer on accessibility for librarians. And we were very excited about it, got it past their curriculum committee and it was kind of unusual because he wasn't a doctoral student and usually Master's and Post-Master's students in our school don't develop brand new courses. We put it into the schedule and much to our surprise the day that classes were about to start we have a grand total of zero people who had registered for the course. There is a happier ending to the story though; he applied for and got a job at George Mason University in their libraries the year that they won the NCAA so everybody was in a good mood there, and he loved the campus and they liked him and everybody was really happy. But one of the reasons they decided to hire him was because he had this syllabus about a workshop and accessibility that he has been happily teaching there ever since. So that was really what opened my eyes to the issues and the problems that are involved in dealing with this topic. So some of this I know you know but I just want to have some general background to get started.
We have a lot of people who have various kinds of disabilities and a lot of these people are using the network information environment--a lot of old people and by the way I think that one of the reasons why accessibility work is important and must continue is the focus on the rapidly aging population; and I'm going to be there very, very soon and I want you guys to make sure that I have an accessible web. Because I'm going to have my mobile computing attached to my wheelchair in the nursing home and I have a sociology background and I know from demographics that if I make it into my 85 to 90 that period of time, the ratio of women to men is about 8 to 1; so I'll be chasing them around in my wheelchair using the web to contact them, keep my Facebook page up so I have a lot of personal investment in your work. And there are people with severe disabilities; I was actually surprised that the percentages were this high; 36% of people 15 to 64 with severe disabilities compared to 29% use the net at home and then you can see the comparison to the people who are able. And this is a 2009 Census Report so I was trying to find as current statistics as I could find. This list is nothing new to you any way but I may repurpose this so it's always good to have it in there. And Margaret has a copy of this; and Brian has a copy of this and if you can't get it from them and you want this you can e-mail me and I'm happy to send it to you. I believe an open source with all this kind of stuff.
Now by way of social background we know that the web is becoming increasingly important. It's becoming much, much more of a routine part of our lives; and those people who follow I think it's the Bodan [assumed spelling] College where they put out the characteristics of the freshman class. You probably all have seen those as they have developed over the years. Now we're moving quickly to a generation that has only known the web. They really don't know any world without it. They know the web and they've always grown up with network cell phones that can do all kinds of interesting things; and we know how important the web is becoming in education, employment, government, commerce, health care, recreation. It's just amazing how quickly it's integrated into our lives. And when you step back and look at histories of technologies, the web has become deeply integrated into our lives much, much, more quickly than the telephone, much more quickly than the television; almost I would guess I don't have exact evidence on this but more quickly than radio. And if that's the case then the web must be accessible, we must provide equal access to people without regard for disability. And it also is becoming clear that using this kind of a network environment gives us ways to get around barriers that have been part of accessibility issues in other kinds of media.
Now one of the arguments I'll be trying to make in this brief talk is that we are going to be concerned with social, technical, financial and policy factors as we think about accessibility. It is not simply a technical problem of making web pages that can be validated with an accessibility validator--it's much, much more than that.
So the movement that I am seeing as I survey the literature is an argument for a more holistic approach, for thinking about the network information environment and the place for people with various kinds of disabilities in that environment, and ways to help them access the information, services and experiences that are part of that environment. What we can see so far is that in the early attempts to work in this realm, the focus was really on the people who were doing authoring and developing; and those of you who are very familiar with the web consortium's accessibility initiative, probably remember that most of the standards that they developed really aimed at people in the production end. And because we have had that effort going on for a number of years and we still have significant problems that we have to face, it seems clear that while that is a good effort and an effort that should continue, it's not enough. There's something else that has to be added to this.
Now in SLIS, we have course, after course, after course that's called user centered this; user centered that; user centered this; and I worked with a doctoral student who wrote a chapter for a book called the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology were she was looking at this turn towards the focus on the user. Now whether you want to call the person a user, a patron, a client, a customer, I'm not going to quibble about the vocabulary, but what it tell us is that for people who are thinking hard about accessibility it's really important to be able to see the web from the disabled person's point of view; and then you begin to have a different sense of the range of complicating factors that make it more difficult for people to be accessing the various kinds of digital information that we come to take for granted.
Now as an aside, something else I discovered in reviewing literature is that both concepts, accessibility and usability, are contested. I found article after article where authors were saying one of the problems is that we need a clear definition of accessibility. And in the usability literature, the same thing is going on; and further the relationship between accessibility and usability is also contested. Is one a subset of the other or are they two parallel efforts that every once in a while come together? How does that relationship actually work? Now I'm not going to get involved in that because that's a whole other issue; a whole other debate and can take up a whole lot of conversation time. What I prefer to think about is that the share a goal and the goal is to make information and communication technologies which I abbreviate as ICTs available to the widest possible audiences. And in that sense, usability becomes a tool that can be used to improve accessibility; and for my purposes that's good enough. There can be much more academic debate about this that is appropriated in a different format.
There's also an assumption that I was able to pick up from reading through current articles about these topics. And that is that the recognition is really growing; that people with disabilities have the same right as everyone else to access digital information through their ICTs whatever those ICTs are. And that leads us to the question how to improve web access and that's a challenging problem; and it's a problem that has to be addressed by content developers and designers, policy makers, people who are making financial decisions within institutions such as ours, and involve the people who are going to be using the technologies that we are going to be working with and developing.
I stole this from my E-Commerce class. There were also good business reasons, and I'm using business loosely. I would explain this in more detail but the quick version is that not-for-profits their involved in thinking about business; educational institutions are thinking about business just as for-profits are. So you use the term very, very loosely. People with disabilities tend to become loyal when they find responsive businesses or organizations. And particularly thinking about it in the business sense, this is a market that has discretionary income although given the current economic circumstances I'm sure that 175 billion has probably been downgraded to maybe a 100 billion; because they probably lost money in their investments the way the rest of us did. I did hear somebody say that their 401k is now 101k. I kind of like that; and the metaphor here is in the same way that when a business thinks about making its physical location more accessible, there's a list of things that they know how to do and they can do it quickly and easily. We have to be thinking about doing the same thing for the web environment as well.
So, part 2 trends. There's a whole area in human computer interaction called ubiquitous computing or pervasive computing. And what people are working on there are ways to embed computing in our environment in a way that makes the laptop as a particular kind of device, superfluous so that the environment actually reacts to us. So we're starting to see some of this in smart homes for example; where there are homes that have been built that has various kinds of sensor technologies that will allow the lights to be turned on when you come into the room at a setting that you approve of; or when the phone rings television can be turned down. These are the kinds of experiments that people are working on. I have another kind of examples that's from a completely different environment that a friend of mine has done. It's called ambient wood. Her name is Yvonne Rogers and she's now at the Open University in UK. She used to teach in SLIS in the School of Informatics. She was with us for three years. She had this project going on in the UK where they basically wired up a wetlands [assumed spelling] with all kinds of sensor technologies and cameras and various kinds of computing, they had a discreetly hidden tent that had the servers and the graduate students who were monitoring the activity that took place in the ambient wood, take children and give them handheld devices and tasks. So they would have to go to a pond and measure the pH in the water; they would have to observe a nest where there were eggs and discuss the state of the--I'm losing the word. How soon the eggs were going to hatch and what was going in in the nest. And so identify plan to do this, and do this, and do that. It was all with handhelds and they're putting in their answers and walking around, and then it's all going back to the server and the server area, server tent and then they get feedback, and the point was to get kids interested in science and it worked--they loved it. It was a very, very good project. She went on to Ambienwood [assumed spelling]. I asked her at what point what would happen if you had a blind student and was trying to do this? And she said it wouldn't work; that they had not thought about how to take that kind of project and make it adaptable. She said it was really circumstance because everybody that participated was fully abled; so they didn't have to worry about people beaten up, having difficulty walking through the woods or not being able to see or not being able to hear--you didn't have to worry about that kind of stuff and she said it would be an amazing challenge to take that kind of a ubiquitous computing environment and re-engineer it for accessibility but she understood that it was a really interesting challenge. But sometimes these kinds of researchers will do she said, not covered in the grant, but thanks for mentioning.
So the problem here is that usability methods and accessibility methods that we're used to working with were really created in an era where we had stand-alone systems and individual devices. Now we're moving into a domain now where we have network, collaborative, interwoven, interdependent electronic environments where for some people the technologies are really beginning to converge. Another person in my school just got back from a trip to the Far East and spent time in Japan, and said that there are young Japanese people who no longer have computers; that they have so much computing power in their cell phone, that that's their device and they can do everything they need to do with that small device and they've moved away from stand-alone computing. Which means that everything we know in terms of usability and accessibility work becomes less relevant in this kind of a context. And I've often thought that the HCI people had it good because they could be producing research that could get published in very good journals, get highly sighted, but it would be generation-specific. So there's a whole lot of early HCI research done on us and we're dinosaurs.
Some of us are old enough to remember pre-computing. I came into computing with mainframes; the first system I worked on was a VAX if that means something to people; and we're not the kind of generation that has grown up with this kind of computing and if HCI, ergonomics, accessibility, if all that's based on us, it all has to be redone for a new generation, so I think the HCI people actually have it good because they're able to just redo their work for the new generation and see what happens. Testing network applications is really different from testing stand-alone products; and there are some people in the school of Informatics who have been experimenting with this.
Those of you from the Indiana University campus may remember the phishing study that Marcus Jacobsen did about three years ago. I'm seeing one glimmer of recognition. This is Ph Phishing where they set up a website and the point is to try to get Indiana University students to give up their network password. So these kids got e-mails that looked like they came from their friends and Jacobsen and his students had developed an automated way to check friends' list and you can look people up in the University system to get their e-mail. And they found that about--I may get the numbers a little wrong--but about four out of ten people, five out of ten people gave it up, gave their university password on the website. And the reason that it got a lot of notoriety was a trustee's daughter was one of the people who gave it up so the trustees actually brought it up and there was IRB and IRB had approved it and said this was necessary deception in order to carry out the work, but it created a bit of a stir. But that was an attempt to test in a network environment and it turned out to be very difficult to do. Which means that lab testing is not as relevant as it used to be and we have to be thinking about ways to move out into the field.
So as computing becomes pervasive, the various kinds of applications and technologies that we work with are converging; and they're used in a wide variety of contexts. So I go to a gym, a local YMCA, and about six months ago a sign appeared in a men's locker room saying no cell phones allowed. You know why; because cell phones can take pictures and pictures can be uploaded. So if you don't let people use cell phones at all you don't have to worry about that.
Now that raises the issue of the kinds of context of use that matter and here's where it gets interesting. Have people heard about Chris Anderson's book The Long Tail as a way of talking about what was happening in the network economy as borrowing this idea of The Long Tail and moving it our realm. The idea of the Long Tail is that the stores that are offline have to be homogenized and they can't offer a lot of variety because they don't have the physical space to do so. But online you can offer a lot of niche items that people are not going to be very interested in, and you make your money by renting enough of the niche items and Netflix is the company that best exemplifies the Long Tail. So I like a genre of movie that's futuristic science fiction martial arts. Anybody else? I didn't think so. Not many people even know that that exists; but I've watched Don the Dragon Wilson, Jean Claude Van Dam, all those guys do their futuristic movies. I can get those on Netflix; I can't get them in Blockbuster because only two or three people are going to rent those and it doesn't make good business sense to take up physical inventory space with something like that; but if it's a virtual space then you can have as much of this as you want--so that's called The Long Tail where all of this stuff has taken place, all of these smaller actions and activities. Amazon is really good for this too. You can find a lot of stuff at Amazon you can't find in physical bookstores. So the context of use translating this idea takes place in the long tail. So we have a lot of people who are using their technologies in very idiosyncratic ways; and they're doing it for good purposes, bad purposes, for ways that satisfy them, ways that don't. And because of the increasing mobility and ubiquity of these devices and all of these really idiosyncratic contexts of use, it makes it difficult to study this kind of phenomena and work with this kind of phenomena in the way that we have in the past because there is so much variation--that's the long tail.
And the challenge is how do we adjust to this new kind of situation? We need methods that can account for the unexpected and continuously changing context of use and that's not easy.
Another trend--product development cycle is changing. It's been going on for a number of years but you may have noticed that companies are using the public as their beta testers. Back in the late 80's and early 90's, companies would not release products or not release services until they had tested them; until they had made sure that they worked; and they'd run them through alpha, beta and then turn it out into the world. But actually Microsoft was one of the companies early on that discovered that you can use the general public as your beta testers, and you may not be able to see but I'm using an AIRE [assumed spelling]. I'm on the other side and don't use a lot of PC products. So I didn't have to deal with service packs; and the people that are a little more cynical say the service pack is fixing what beta testers have discovered out in the world. Netscape did this too way back in the old days if anybody remembers Netscape. Netscape would actually pay you if you discovered a serious bug and help them figure out how to fix it. They had a contest where they wanted you to break their encryption. So it began to use people as the beta test and in a rush to market, that means that the cycle time shortens dramatically, design and development still takes place but deployment is immediate. And what that means is that the people who purchase and use these ICT's and services are actually the beta testers and that's not good for people interested in usability and accessibility because it means that you're doing your work after it's in the marketplace and that's harder. Now we may not be able to change that but that means that as deployment begins to trump testing and upgrades overrule design--it's not my phrase, I stole it but I thought it was nicely phrased--it means that we have a real challenge as we have to try to figure out how we are going to make these technologies work for the people who need to use them.
In addition, there is a fair amount of literature--I was actually surprised when I started looking for this--of the conflict between people who are pushing accessibility and designers. Where in the design world accessibility guidelines are seen as constraints that make it difficult to actually create what the designer thinks of as a good design. And everybody knows the name Jacob Nielson--if you get involved in usability you've run across Nielson early because he's a very--his figure looms over the whole field because he was really one of the first people who publicized it. And there are criticisms raised of Nielson that if he were in charge, the web would be a really drab and boring place and everything would look alike. Everything would like his Use It column--those of you who have seen his column. That's what the web would be like. And designers say that isn't really why we got into this and there's been this tension and conflict that has gone on between accessibility and design even up through '04 was being discussed at major conferences.
Another trend--design is moving towards the edges; now I mean this in two ways. One way people are now able to have much, much more ability to design, customize and configure their own products. That's going on all the time and it used to be a small community of hackers and not hackers in the sense of breaking into your system, but hackers in the sense of people who like to play with technology doing all kinds of things. I don't know if any of you followed for a while the web fad for moding [assumed spelling] a computer box for a desktop computer. There are people who made their computer look like coffee machines or made them look like something like the bridge on Star Trek; and they would post pictures where they would show how they did all this kind of stuff. And that goes on at the product level, it goes on at the software level, it goes on at the service level; and some companies are actually opening up their interfaces, the API's to allow people to make these kinds of changes. So that creates what some call a double usability challenge. First, the system must provide a way for people to be able to make these kinds of changes so that they can do this kind of work and this kind of adaptation; so we have a guy who is teaching a workshop in Adobe Flex for us this summer; and he got in contact with the Adobe people and they just opened up a whole bunch of software that he is now able to bring into the class and show people how to work with.
The second challenge is helping people make their new products usable and accessible. Less people are going to try to do this work and try to make these changes themselves. Standard usability work, standard accessibility work is not likely to easily capture what these kinds of people are doing. Most of the research training that we have is based on the idea of similarity. We're trying to find representative samples; we're trying to make sure that we're able to generalize the populations. We're trying to find ways to accentuate what people have in common in order to do this kind of research. But as these people are doing their work, user drive innovation, we find again we're moving towards a long tail where people are not doing things in the same way and they're not moving their product, their service, in the same kinds of directions. So we need to think a little bit differently about how to take advantage of what these people are doing to try to understand it and be able to work with it.
The second part of design moving to the edges is that developer can now design on their own. I read a very interesting article over the weekend that was written in '08 where a person was arguing that usability's rise has mirrored the rise of the web and she was arguing for usability's potential fall as the web continues to develop. And that's because early on the purpose of usability was to find a number of problems and this goes back again to Nielsen's influence--finding 85% of the problems with five people that you're testing. Do you people remember that? The idea of discount usability; that you're able to find a lot of problems with the small number of users. One of the reasons why is that those were the simple problems, and the simple problems by in large have been solved. So if it's a matter of making text bigger on the page we have lots of different ways to do that; that gives the person who is using the page easy access to the tools to make the page more readable if font size is an issue. Many of the simple problems have been solved and the designers and the developers know what these solutions are and don't need usability help anymore for that. So the problem here that this women was writing about is that by using this good work early usability people are putting themselves out of business; because a lot of what they know how to do is taken care of and the people who are doing the design and development have taken classes, have read articles, know where to look and are able to deal with it. So now the problem is that traditional methods, traditional quantification, traditional metrics were relevant from about '94 to maybe 2002 but now we all know this; it's common sense. So what happens next? And she was arguing that it's time for usability people to tackle the complex problems that are going to be very difficult to solve and she was saying that there may be another period where usability people are kind of ignored for a while, while they're trying to figure these things out.
So there's a movement in HCI to deal with affect--affect-driven usability. So starting to think about the role of emotion and emotion intelligence and thinking about digital information access and information communication technologies, buy in loyalty engagement. The question is then if developers know the underlying usability principals what do we have left to tell them? And that's the challenge of design moving to the edges.
Finally, there's an accessibility dilemma at the production end that has not gone away. This is a social problem so what you are trying to do is tell developers that here's how we think you can make things better. The problem is they spend a lot of time doing it. Like for example going through a website that has a thousand pages and putting in all descriptions for the alt tax; trivial exercise but it takes a lot of time. And if they spend too much time working on accessibility and don't see a return, then you have a dilemma because they're not interested in doing it, particularly if they have big legacy sites that have to be reengineered. I had a small taste of this when I had two courses that a person with a disability was going to take, and I had to redo the PowerPoint. And usually for a three hour class I'll have about somewhere between 50 and 70 depending on the topic, and I would have 15 of them for a course. And it took me a long time to make the changes that were necessary so that the PowerPoint could be read by a screen reader. I'm very glad I did it and now I've gotten use to working that way and so now I do it from scratch now. But it took a lot of time for me to make that conversion so I have a small sense of the developer and designer's dilemma when you think about the amount of time that it takes to do the work and the return that they get.
So the question is how you change that balance. Because the benefits of creating an accessible web content (oh I'm sorry that should be r, I apologize. I'll change that and send you a new version). Subject verb agreement, bad thing. My mother's an English teacher and I'm going to get in trouble. Few developers are really willing to rework the old content when there's new content that needs to be created. They don't have sense in which the time and effort that they put in and the cost because it costs real money, improves the experience of people using their products and services. So a goal then is to figure out how to come up with ways that costs developers less to make digital products and services accessible, and to provide greater advantages to a larger group of users.
I'm not getting into anything technical here but I did read another article on the same topic. It was talking about a way to take an existing web page and then on the fly convert it into a webpage that was accessible by W3C standards; trying to figure out how to make technology work and how to roll it out and decide for-profit open source. So, to wrap up--there are possibilities to deal with this situation. People involved in usability and accessibility work have to think about the challenges of rapid deployment and ubiquity; and so there are people who are doing experiments in HCI where they're trying to figure out how to take advantage of this always on environment to be able to gather data for design and research. There are people who are thinking hard about how to make research contextual--in other words moving data much closer to the field. There are people here in the digital libraries project who have been working in contextual inquiry trying to do exactly that. Think about what it means to bring people in. So think about what it means to work with disabled people on collaborative research and participatory design to think about ways to improve products and services. Think hard about contexts of use. What do we know about the people who are using the ICT's, what are their abilities and disabilities, strengths and weaknesses? What do we know about the domain in which the work or the play is being done? What are the tasks that we have to support? What are the dynamics that are involved in people operating as individuals or in groups? What are their patterns? What kinds of characteristics do we know about the environment? What are the technological requirements? What can we find out about the hardware and the software? What can we find out about plug-ins?
I was talking to Brian before we got started today and he was on a pretty good rant. He's a good one to rant about this kind of stuff about the problem with a lot of the plug-ins that are available for the kinds of technologies that people have to work with when you're trying to think about, say, educational uses if that's our particular domain. And finally, performance requirements. It's nice to be able to say that we can make course materials accessible for a person, but what if that means, and again thank you Brian, that they have to spend three hours scanning something in order to be able to have it prepared to read for the next day; which then means that for an abled person they have the three hours of reading because we generally are supposed to be operating at the graduate level--we didn't have undergraduates in my school--for every hour in class you're reading about three hours outside of class. So if say just one hour of class reading it takes a person three hours. If it takes a person with a disability six hours, that's not really fair. Are there ways to think about the performance requirements to kind of make that more reasonable? Success rates, completion times, satisfaction--these are all ways that we can begin to get at these kinds of issues.
So that leaves us going all the way back to the beginning where I was mentioning about accessibility and usability not stepping into the debate, but just saying in a sense what I'm thinking that a key measure is whether the ICT fits its context of use. So can the people for whom it's designed use it with whatever the acceptable level of usability and accessibility is; and it's perfectly fine if they define it. User defined criteria are fine to work with here. Can people do the tasks that they need to do in any setting with the same relative level of effort as an abled person? Can that ICT be taken by a person with disability into different contexts of use and have it work equally well? So I'm thinking of a person with a hearing disability who can sit in a quiet room and use the technology but then go into a public space where there's a lot of ambient noise and have difficulty using that same technology. And can they be made available to people who need it--I see another mistake--at a reasonable cost?
So I think you're off to a very good start at the conference because I think you're going to be dealing with a lot of these issues. For example, you're going to be talking about the economics of accessibility and usability; the costs of the kinds of technologies; the procedures you have to go through for purchasing. You're going to be thinking about the technologies of accessibility and usability like working with content management systems and working with the systems technologies. You're going to be thinking about what I'm most interested in--the sociology of accessibility and usability where you're thinking about education and promotion, think about effects on Pedagogue [assumed spelling]; best practices, buy-in and administrative support. I think it's a tough battle because we're still waiting for our state legislature to tell us how bad it's going to be when they give us these state appropriations. We've already started making cuts and we're pretty sure that we're going to have to make more cuts and we don't know how many.
Those of you from Indiana may have been reading what's going on in the papers are the debates going back and forth about what's going to happen with higher education. It's going to be difficult for the next few years. We're all going to have difficult times; and what you have to make sure is that people in your institutions understand that this is not a peripheral activity. This is not an activity that can be cut. This is a core essential part of what needs to happen in educational institutions if we are to provide our services to all people who need them and complete our missions. Thank you.
[ Audience clapping ]
>> Does anyone have any questions for Howard? He has said he would entertain questions if anyone had them?
>> Howard: This is like teaching a class. Sir?
[ Audience question: inaudible. ]
>> Howard: Gee no. The only thing I can think of there is you have to front load it and have success and then sell the success. But I don't know about ways to cut down the amount of time to make that work. And part of it is because I'm not a technologist so there are probably people who are doing that work who can think of ways that can streamline the process. But I think in part you're asking about--support and buy-in once you're able to have the demonstration; and I don't know of a way of making that argument beyond success, beyond numbers, beyond cost savings; if we don't do this what would happen. I think that's about all I have off the top of my head though because that's a very good question. Sir?
[ Audience question: inaudible. ]
>> Howard: This may sound cynical but I think an administrator who has a blind child or a deaf child or a child with disability is much more sympathetic to the importance of carrying this out. But if you don't have that kind of situation I think you have to appeal to the mission of your institution and say we should be as Indiana is a public institution, we should be able to offer our education to any qualified person who applies. And if a person has disabilities, we have to be able to accommodate them because that's part of our mission. And if it comes to a cost benefit argument, I think you lose because it costs money to do this and it takes time and effort. I don't know of a way to do it from a--to make the argument from an economic point of view. I think it's an argument that comes from the mission of the institution; the goals of the institution and the desire to serve the widest qualified public. And I keep saying qualified because I'm not saying that you have to have standards in your institution and it doesn't matter whether your abled or disabled if you don't meet whatever the threshold is, you don't get in. But if you do, you should not be disqualified on the basis of disability and that's an administrator's responsibility to support. But I don't know if that's satisfactory. Yes?
[ Audience question: inaudible. ]
>> Howard: That's a good point.
>> Thank you very much. Thank you everyone in the audience for the excellent questions and I think Howard has certainly touched on what the mission of this CIC Conference group is all about which is getting the attention of people at our level. We're already engaged in issues of accessibility and access, and trying to find out how we can influence administrators. The Adaptive Technology and Accessibility Centers here at Indiana University is a success story in that regard because I think through that center, we have heightened the awareness of issues with accessibility; and one way to do it is by telling small stories of success over and over again and being sure the right people hear those stories. It's quite difficult to not feel the impact of somebody saying I wanted to attend Indiana University, that was my life dream, but I couldn't until this particular thing happened. So that's one way to help to accomplish what Howard was talking about and what some of the questions were addressing and we'll certainly be focusing on these issues throughout the conference. I would just like to say that these issues are very important in the ubiquity of technology as you hear people who are leaping ahead with the idea that everything's going to happen on your cell phone and everything; we're going to incorporate Twitter into the classroom; we're going to use clickers in the classroom--all of these things are wonderful ideas but if accessibility isn't considered as these technologies are adopted then you leave out a segment of the population that you again have to pull along and bring ahead. We did an interesting test here at Indiana University using thin clients versus desktop workstations, and unfortunately at this point in time which is because this is technology, there's only a moment in time thin client workstations were not very good at delivering or working with adaptive applications.
We are using, I just wanted to mention, we are using thanks to Howdy Rontgen [assumed spelling] from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign talking communities, so we do have people who are able to attend this conference remotely because in some cases the travel budgets were frozen for the universities.
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