[Dan and Amy are in Paris attending a conference organized by UNESCO and Microsoft entitled “Accessible ICTs and Personalized Learning for Students with Disabilities: A Dialogue among Educators, Industry, Government and Civil Society.”  Dan is writing a series of reports from Paris.]

So Amy and I finally have our bearings such that when we walk around, no matter if we go on a new street or not, we can find our way back. Because of this we have been able to see some of the hidden or less known structures in Paris. It is surprising how many sculptures and monuments that are in the city that you never hear about or see in pictures. One of the funniest things about our trip has been becoming comfortable with the crosswalks. When we first arrived and saw people nearly walk in the middle of the street, it took effort to not jump in the street and save them. We were able to control our impulses and maintain our trust that, they likely knew what they were doing. In the end we became part of that crowd and found ourselves crossing the streets before the walk sign was lit, seeing where the street lights are located and knowing that almost all the streets are one way (meaning you only need to look one way, when you see someone looking both ways, it is a sure sign that they are a tourist).

Aside from the city, I have begun to synthesize some of the information from the conference that I have been participating in and I want to address something something that we discussed – accessibility. It is amazing to think about all of the limitations that are present on things such as a website. When we look at a website, you typically do not see consideration for options of the size of the text on the site for individuals with visual impairments, or an option to read the text, or a braille based system for the internet. If you think about just those three things, you can see that there is limited accessibility on the web. Then you think about developing nations that struggle with basic needs and are largely unable to provide access to the internet. There are a lot of challenges facing our world. Limited accessibility of information and communication technology is a large scale problem that, when solved, can make a great impact on the global community.

Dan