Accessibility Event Spotlight: Sight Tech Global

Navy and teal Sight Tech Global logo on a light green background.

Image Description: Navy and teal Sight Tech Global logo on a light green background.

Accessibility Event Spotlight: Sight Tech Global

Sight Tech Global is a free and accessible annual virtual conference addressing how emerging technologies can improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Dec 07, 2022

Sight Tech Global is hosting its third annual virtual conference on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 highlighting how tech pioneers are breaking down barriers preventing people from interacting with the digital world.

This year’s event specifically addresses the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and other assistive technologies on blind and visually impaired individuals—with speakers from top companies and organizations around the world sharing their experiences and expertise in improving digital accessibility and inclusion.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 2.2 billion people across the globe live with some type of visual impairment. Non-accessible apps, websites, and digital content adversely impact their online experiences and prevent them from enjoying the same products and services available to others.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Vision Health Initiative (VHI) ranks visual impairment as one of the top 10 disabilities for U.S. adults and children. The agency also forecasts eye-related disorders doubling among American adults by 2050, partially due to the aging population and eye-related diseases caused by diabetes and other chronic conditions.

This free, virtual event in partnership with the nonprofit Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired takes place Wednesday, Dec.7 and Thursday, Dec. 8 from 8 a.m. to noon PST and features both pre-recorded main stage sessions and live breakouts, led by the center’s founder and executive producer Ned Desmond. The conference will for the first time additionally host an in-person event on Dec. 9 in San Jose, Calif.

Sight Tech Global’s sponsors include InclusionHub Founding Partners: Fable, a leading accessibility testing platform powered by people with disabilities; and Be My Eyes, a free app connecting blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers.

Fable’s Accessibility Evangelist Sam Proulx—a speaker at this year’s conference and host of ‘The InclusionHub Podcast’—shares the extraordinary nature of this gathering and the topics discussed:

“Sight Tech Global is a conference that is entirely focused on not just assistive technology for those who are blind and visually impaired, but specifically focused on the future of assistive technology for those who are blind and visually impaired, and what's coming up,” he explains. “And Fable has been involved in Sight Tech Global since its very first year. It was set up by Ned Desmond, who formerly did a lot of work for TechCrunch, and all of the proceeds go to the Vista Center over in San Jose that does a lot of good work helping folks who are blind and visually impaired.

“But as well as that,” Proulx continues, “in my humble opinion, it's one of the most accessible conferences in the world, not just in that many of the folks who are speaking are blind and visually impaired—in that something like half of the attendees are visually impaired—but also in that you can just go to on the day, and click on [an] event, and it's live streamed there for you on YouTube.

“You don't have to register, you don't have to buy tickets, you don't have to spend money,” he adds. “And so no matter where you are, who you are, or what your financial resources are, if you can access the web, you can come and attend and participate in this conference.”

Free registration can be completed online.

Extraordinary Lineup of Accessibility & Tech Experts

Setting the conference tone on Dec. 7 at 8 a.m. PST from its main stage are hosts: blind comedian and technology specialist Brian Fischler and Karae Lisle, CEO of the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

All agenda sessions include related breakouts. Sight Tech Global is designed to be fully accessible and compatible with various screen readers.

To help navigate the event’s many discussions, its FAQ page states: “During the event itself, attendees use two sections of this site, both linked from the site navigation. One is called ‘agenda’ and contains descriptions of all the sessions, both main stage and breakout. Links to breakout sessions will go to live Zoom webinars provided by partners.”

Sight Tech Global features experts from some of the world’s most recognizable tech companies, including Amazon, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Google, among others.

Speakers include:

  • Jennison Asuncion, Head of Accessibility Engineering Evangelism, LinkedIn: Asuncion, who also co-founded Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) in 2012, will moderate a session featuring Seleste co-founders Shubh Mittal and Smit Patel. The two will discuss affordable assistive technologies, as well as the company’s recently launched, tech-enabled glasses.

  • Gary Marcus, Founder & Executive Chairman, Robust AI: Marcus is a serial entrepreneur and best-selling author, and his panel “The Problem With AI” addresses the need for more common-sense AI solutions.

  • Sam Proulx, Accessibility Evangelist, Fable: Proulx joins two representatives from HumanWare, Dr. Louis-Philippe Massé, VP of product innovation and technologies; and Peter Tucic, director of strategic partnerships, to share developments on the company’s voice-powered GPS mobility assistant device. Besides being Accessibility Evangelist at leading accessibility testing platform Fable and ‘InclusionHub Podcast’ host, he also co-hosts ‘Disability Bandwidth.’

  • Saqib Shaikh, Co-Founder of Seeing AI, Microsoft: Shaikh and the Seeing AI team help visually-impaired individuals navigate both the digital and physical worlds. The app, a Microsoft research project, assists with messages, contacts, and surroundings.

  • Greg Stilson, Head of Global Innovation, The American Printing House for the Blind (APH): Stilson will update attendees on a collaborative Braille tablet project with technology provider HumanWare.

  • Jutta Treviranus, Director, Inclusive Design Research Centre: With her research revered by international government agencies and public companies alike, Treviranus is one of the world’s top experts on web accessibility. Catch her panel “AI Decision Systems Permeate Our Lives. Now What?” on Dec. 8.

Technology Pioneers Leading the Way

InclusionHub Founding Partner and Sight Tech Global sponsor Fable employs people with disabilities to provide crucial feedback to researchers, designers, developers, and companies across diverse industries.

As its Accessibility Evangelist and the host of ‘The InclusionHub Podcast’ explains on its episode “Nothing About Us Without Us,” involving those with disabilities in any discussion or improvement regarding digital accessibility and inclusion is vital:

“The spectrum of disabilities impacting people around the globe are wide ranging, and encompass far too many conditions to name here. Yet whether blind, d/Deaf, living with cognitive disabilities, speech difficulties, psychological, or physical challenges, this community deserves and demands the same level of access and inclusion to every facet of society as those who are not experiencing these things.”

Learn more about the 2022 Sight Tech Global virtual event by checking out this year’s agenda, speaker roster, and FAQs. Free registration can be completed online. Contact Sight Tech Global for additional inquiries.

Written by Regina Jankowski

Regina Jankowski is a Senior Inbound Content Developer at Hypha HubSpot Development.

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