I had the privilege of attending the 16th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2014), which was held in Rochester, New York, on October 20-22. It was a remarkable conference in a number of ways. There were about 170 attendees, which may be a record attendance for the conference. The technical program was excellent with interesting talks, many poster and demos, and a reception with technical exhibits at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. The 2014 SIGACCESS Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computing and Accessibility was awarded to Vicki Hanson who gave a fascinating talk titled “Computing and Humans,” which highlighted the impact of technology on people with disabilities.
Two attendees attended using Beam telepresence robots (see the related story by one of these participants one pages 3-4). There was both captioning and sign language interpretation for the deaf attendees. Most of the presenters made their talks accessible to those attendees who are blind or have low vision. In addition to the two Beam attendees, I counted twelve attendees who were blind or have low vision, four deaf attendees, and two who were in wheelchairs. There were others who attended with less visible disabilities. There were at least nine authors with disabilities and was heartening to see that six of the nine had some connection to AccessComputing. There were two talks given by blind authors and two by deaf authors.
Of all the ASSETS conferences I have attended, I feel this one had the most participation by researchers with disabilities. It will be interesting to see if this level of participation continues at the next ASSETS conference that will be held in Lisbon, Portugal.