Sunday, April 14, 2024



Here are some key takeaways from The Accessible World’s inaugural year

Ather Sharif welcomes attendees. May 3, 2016 Category: FeaturedMethodShort
Earlier this year, EvoXLabs founder (and soon to be Comcast software engineer) Ather Sharif announced the launch of The Accessible World (TAW) conference, a local two-day event hoping to aggregate some best practices in accessibility.

Last week, Sharif welcomed attendees to the inaugural conference at the Free Library, explaining that the motive for the event was to bring attention to a modern lack of universal design across disciplines. The conference itself was split up into a number of different tracks including technology, education and public policy.

“The most interesting part is the audience is still the same for each track,” Sharif said. “The idea behind all that is to bring people together under one roof” to share best practices and raise awareness across disciplines. 

Sharif’s welcome address was followed by a keynote from FCC Chief of Disability Rights Gregory Hlibok, who explained he “wasn’t born into an accessible world,” but was born into a “barrier-free” one.

Hlibok was born deaf. Access wasn’t a concern until new technologies were introduced, he said before reminiscing on caption-free television.

“Accessiblity can break down anywhere,” said entrepreneur and accessible design practitioner Kel Smith. “I think I know how to fix it: Don’t treat accessibility as an afterthought. Think of accessibility as an opportunity — an opportunity to advance your space.” 

Smith recalled seeing a prototype of a Higi — a machine that measures health vitals in grocery stores — in Austin, Texas.

“Some places had a special room for it. It was workable,” he said. “There were other places that weren’t so workable,” pointing to an image on a slide of a Higi in a tight grocery store corner, blocked off by a number of carts.

The major takeaway from the inaugural Accessible World conference? There’s a lot of work to be done in advocating, educating and advancing toward universal accessible design.

And it’s a fight we should all have an inherent interest in.


Philly Tech Week

Trending News

From Bars to Belonging: Overcoming the Housing Crisis Facing Returning Citizens Ryan Moser
Monday Minute with Tara Felicia Jones Monique Curry-Mims
Government Can’t Save Us, But, Don’t Hurt Us: Philly to Harrisburg Jude Husein
Skin In The Game Andre Simms
Empowerment and Opportunity for All Monique Curry-Mims

Related Posts

October 6, 2021

Digital access is foundational. What are local orgs doing to improve it?

Read More >
July 28, 2021

Reflect back, reimagine forward: How Ben Franklin Technology Partners is investing in regional impact

Read More >
July 14, 2021

Person-first or identity-first language? The discussion isn't academic

Read More >