2018 M-Enabling Summit Displays Wide Range of Products for Improved Accessibility

Americas, Assistive Technology, Events, ICT, August 6 2018

Ernie Crawford headshot

Ernie Crawford

WASHINGTON, DC, USA: M-Enabling Summit Conference and Showcase held June 11–13 at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Washington D.C. is an annual event dedicated to promoting accessible and assistive technology innovations for users of all abilities.  Previously, it had been the offspring of G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, an advocacy group charged with promoting digital accessibility and assistive technologies.  This year, G3ict joined with IAAP, the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, to produce the show. Similar to G3ict, IAAP’s purpose is to advance the accessibility profession worldwide through networking, education and certification to enable the creation of accessible products, content and services. This merger broadened the base of those interested in accessibility and related products and services, and not surprisingly, there was quite a variety of people and enterprises in attendance, as well as exhibiting.

Due to the show’s location in the nation’s capital and the links between accessibility and compliance laws, such as those embedded in the ADA and ACA, many visiting the exhibits were government officials with an interest in what’s new and available for the agencies and employees within the federal government.  Others were from universities and businesses across all industries, including telecom and internet-based companies, seeking the means to makes their products and websites accessible to people with various types of disabilities. Many of this group were also among vendors and exhibitors. A smaller percentage of attendees were end users, some of them accompanied by guide dogs, and all of them certainly interested in finding ways to sustain an independent and enriched lifestyle.  Attendees and exhibitors came from countries around the globe.

Last year’s M-Enabling Summit was more tightly focused on developing and improving digital devices like mobile phones, tablets and computers for easier use and website accessibility for the disabled and aged.  This year, with a theme of  “Accessible and Assistive Technologies Innovations: New Frontiers for Independent Living,” M-Enabling still attracted telecoms and web developers, but also exhibitors that ranged from Amazon to Uber, J.P. Morgan to Microsoft, and many other smaller firms centered on products and services developed specifically to aid blind and partially sighted individuals and the hearing impaired.

The Summit revealed an evolving and more sophisticated development of assistive technologies and software, indicating that companies from just about every industry segment are seriously committed to overcoming the hurdle of making their products and websites available to everyone. A newer, and in some ways more formidable challenge, is in also making accessible all the information—including documents and PDFs—that they host on their websites and provide to employees and customers.  Our own company, Crawford Technologies, demonstrated  AccessibilityNow.com, our new e-commerce site for making PDFs hosted on websites accessible, as well as our full range of accessible document solutions.  Our booth and offerings attracted considerable interest, and as well, provided us with opportunities to meet with and learn about other products and services in our own and related fields.

The M-Enabling Summit conference sessions are marketing-oriented, seminars and discussions. These sessions seem to provide more brand information than general concepts about technological developments and progress. In the future, it would be more valuable to see a focus on educational content that helps accessibility professionals in their everyday work.  Be that as it may, the show does provide a meeting place and opportunity to network and to share ideas and even find some inspiration in what other firms are doing.

All in all, the 2018 M-Enabling Summit was worth a visit for those concerned with accessibility issues, including the organizations and companies that make and buy the products and software to address these challenges.  But most importantly, the Summit’s expansion should be encouraging to people who have a need for greater accessibility over digital channels and the products and services that can help them take advantage of the convenience and connectivity that digital technologies and media have to offer.

By Ernie Crawford, President and CEO, Crawford Technologies

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An electronic document industry pioneer, Ernie Crawford is President/CEO and founder of Crawford Technologies. One of only a small number of people worldwide with M-EDP (Master Electronic Document Professional) designation, Ernie has more than 30 years of senior marketing and management experience in the high-volume electronic printing market.

Posted with permission.

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