2009 IEEE Accessing the Future Conference

Accessing the Future

A Summary from Dr. Michael Lightner, Conference Chair

IEEE and IBM partnered on a new conference: Accessing the Future: A Global Collaborative Exploration for Accessibility in the Next Decade. This conference was held at Northeastern University in Boston, MA on July 20, 21. There were 150 participants including leaders from government, industry, consumer and advocacy organizations and academia. The focus of the conference was to identify key emerging technologies that would present barriers to people with disabilities and ask how to get ahead of the technology development so that they were accessible when available and not retrofit after introduction, as is mostly the case now.

After a series of keynote and plenary presentations the attendees broke into four tracks: Standards and Universal Design, Patient-Centered Collaborative Care, Accessible Online Workplaces and Communities, and Transportation and Travel. An expert panel in each track lead the discussion and the goal of each panel was to come up with ten key recommendations. The conference as a whole received a report from each panel and then voted to prioritize the recommendations. The top ten recommendations are given below.

Please continue to visit this website to view the Presentations and additional announcements.

Top Ten Recommendations in rank order:

  1. In standards and universal design it is imperative that accessibility and the needs of people with disabilities are incorporated into the education of those who will generate future ICT.
  2. For online workplaces and communities it is critical to improve accessibility of MAINSTREAM collaboration technology making those tools more accessible, inclusive, and robust.
  3. In standards and universal design we must build accessibility into the ICT infrastructure so that it is a natural part of ICT, which anyone operating under constraints can invoke as they need it - including those with little or no resources.
  4. Patient-centered collaborative healthcare should leverage all available technologies to provide effective, efficient, error-free, timely, honest, and satisfying information transfer within and across institutions and between stakeholders.
  5. For the continued success and wide spread adoption of online workplaces and communities it is necessary to enhance communications, awareness, training and education across the general society.
  6. Patient-centric longitudinal medical records and care data should be standardized in a manner that facilitates secure but rapid sharing across all aspects of clinical care, public health policy, and practice.
  7. In healthcare human factors (usability, accessibility, etc) must be designed into all systems to ensure that they are usable, effective, efficient, and satisfying to use by the persons intended to use them, and they should effectively capitalize on digital communication and social networking resources in a manner that safeguards individual and public interests.
  8. For accessible travel and transportation it is imperative that information and physical systems be interoperable.
  9. Accessible travel and transportation requires coordinated, standardized and accessible communication systems.
  10. Standards and universal design require tools and infrastructure that make it easier for companies to include access into their products and systems be built.

Speakers and Panelists

T1: Universal Design and Accessibility Standards

Download Track Summary Track Summary (PDF, 42KB)

T2: Patient-Centered Collaborative Care

Download Track Summary Track Summary (PDF, 60KB)

T3: Accessible Online Workplaces and Communities

Download Track Summary Track Summary (PDF, 84KB)

T4: Transportation and Travel

Download Track Summary Track Summary (PDF, 53KB)

Conference co-Chairs

Dr. Michael Lightner
2006 IEEE President, Professor and Chair, Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder

Ms. Frances W. West
Director, IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center

Technical Program Chair

Dr. Donna Hudson
IEEE 2007-2008 EMBS President, Professor, University of California, San Francisco

For information, contact:

Ms. Bichlien Hoang
IEEE Technical Activities

  • Abstracts of Posters available
  • Presentations from some Keynote speakers and Featured speakers are available.
  • Please continue to visit this web site for further information.
Hosted by

Northeastern University
Boston, MA USA



20 - 21 July 2009

Keynote Speakers
Mr. Axel Leblois

Mr. Axel Leblois
Executive Director
G3ict - The Global
Initiative for Inclusive ICTs
United Nations

Dr. Nicholas Bowen

Dr. Nicholas Bowen
Vice-President of Technology

John D. Kemp

Mr. John D. Kemp
Powers, Pyles,
Sutter & Verville PC
Executive Director and General Counsel of the US Business Leadership Network

Mr. Randy D. Cooper
Senior Policy Advisor
U.S. Department of Labor
Office of Disability Employment Policy