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April 4, 2012

Speaker: Dr. Fraser Shein, President and CEO, Quillsoft Ltd.

Title: A Brief History of HCI Accessibility Issues for Persons with Disabilities

Abstract: This presentation will provide a brief history of HCI accessibility issues from 1980 through today. The dawn of the personal computer brought tremendous opportunities for persons with disabilities, particularly to participate in activities without being perceived as disabled. Interestingly, many of the great advances in computer design and interfaces were spurred on by the need to help these individuals access computers. In the end, they are no different from any other user. Everyone desires access to computer systems with minimal effort and ease of use. Many technologies that were first applied in the disability R&D arena are now ubiquitous today, e.g., on-screen keyboards, text-to-speech, speech recognition, word prediction, T9 and Swype. Behind the technology are some very unique HCI techniques that have applicability for all designers.

Biography: Dr. Shein is President/CEO of Quillsoft Ltd., a company started up in 2000 in partnership with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, with the purpose of commercializing some of the software researched at Holland Bloorview. In December 2010, Dr. Shein retired as a Scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute (BRI) at Holland Bloorview, a teaching hospital fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. Dr. Shein is also an Assistant Professor (status only) in the Department of Computer Science and the Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science at the University of Toronto. He is an internationally recognized expert in computer accessibility for individuals with disabilities having worked as a researcher in the field of rehabilitation engineering since 1979. Dr. Shein's current research interests include advanced computer accessibility technology, natural language processing as applied to writing software, and speech recognition. He leads a team who have successfully commercialized several software products including WiViK on-screen keyboard, WordQ writing software and SpeakQ speech recognition. This software is now sold and used in over twenty countries, in several languages.