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Virtual WN@tL: “How to Make Computers that Everyone Can Use, including Seniors Who Can’t or Won’t.”

May 5 @ 7:00 pm

Speaker: Gregg Vanderheiden; University of Maryland


Description:  Our society is rapidly incorporating digital interfaces into all aspects of our lives. Those who cannot access and use digital technologies will not be able to participate in the society that is evolving.  Yet many cannot due to barriers related to disability, literacy, digital affinity or age.


COVID has highlighted the importance and the barriers here.  Solutions for some people exist but are buried in the device’s “Settings,” hard to find and difficult to understand and use. Other strategies exist but are not readily available.


Morphic is a new open-source approach that combines personalization, layering and other strategies to simplify both computers and the presentation and operation of features intended to help simplify their use. The combination seeks to make features more discoverable, lower the cognitive load needed to explore and employ them, and have them show up automatically on any computer the individual encounters. It also seeks to stabilize the interfaces experienced.


It has potential to help the elderly, people with disabilities, and those you just struggle with computers.  The Morphic software and tools will be described, demonstrated and made available to all participants (and anyone they care for).


Bio:   Dr. Vanderheiden is the Director of the Trace R&D Center and Professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. He has been active in the field of technology and disability for 50 years and was a pioneer in the field of Augmentative Communication (a term originating from his writings), assistive technology and computer access. Access features developed by Dr. Vanderheiden and the Trace Center team can be found in every computer and mobile device internationally (Windows, MacOS, iOS and Linux).


Dr Vanderheiden was selected as part of the team designing the first digital talking book machines for the Library of Congress talking book service – and carried out extensive exploration and testing of approaches in senior living facilities.   He is a past President and Fellow of RESNA, a Founding Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and Fellow in the Human Factors and Ergonomics society. He has been a long-time leader in the area of web accessibility, creating the first set of Web Accessibility guidelines in 1995 and serving as co-editor and co-chairing the WCAG Working Group from its inception through 2013.


At the 6th World Wide Web Conference, he was the third annual recipient of the Yuri Rubinsky Memorial World Wide Web Award, following Vint Cerf and Doug Engelbart. His most recent work has focused on development of a Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) – and proposing a completely different way to approach accessibility for next-next generation ICT.



Zoom link: 




May 5
7:00 pm
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