After a 5 year gap I returned to the CSUN conference and for the 30th celebration no less. I have always enjoyed CSUN as a great place to meet up with accessibility and Assistive Technology people as well as soaking in the latest developments and trends. This year was no exception. Indeed, I had the most fantastic time catching up with old friends and making new friends. My key takeaways were Cognitive is finally on the agenda plus Math on the web and Braille has arrived at last.

I’d like to extend a huge “Thank you” to Gregg Vanderheiden for getting me out to San Diego as part of the Raising the Floor team presenting GPII. Here’s my main recollections.

  • 30th CSUN celebrations. Entertaining, with several excellent professional entertainers (and some not so professional) all having a go to celebrate and acknowledge the achievement of Harry Murphy who launched CSUN.

Harry Murphy holding at 30 sign

  • GPII, Cloud4All & Prosperity4All – In addition to our slides we presented the Library demo of two all-in-one devices running the GPII Auto Personalisation from Preferences. With a photo and card to represent each user who logged in via a NFC ‘tap’ action the device automatically ran required AT and a11y options for each user’s preferences. Unfortunately not many people attended this, but I did find that most people I spoke to were aware of the GPII, if not that it is actually a working prototype now.
  • Project:Possibility’s SS12 finals. Having attended 2 years of the European SS12 (or C4C as it is now known) it was great to be back at the US event, led with amazing efficiency by Sean Goggin (even whilst he was preparing the CSUN conference itself). This year’s CSUN and USC teams had developed great games their presentations were so close I was glad not to be judging. The winning CSUN team‘s steering race  game, while simple was designed for sound only feedback.  A big thanks to our Judges Mike Pacelo, Peter Korn and Jennison Asuncion who each gave great advice to the teams before announcing the winners
  • Presentations – I attend quite a few this year, but as always the real value is chatting to people. Highlights for me include
  • Web stuff – as Marco Zehe said in his pre CSUN blog post, the web is now very much a large part of the conference. Though it was a shame it did not have it’s own track. There was a session on Web components accessibility and I went to The WAI to Web Accessibility Education & Outreach Update followed by an extra Future of WCAG meeting called by Judy Brewer. Interestingly, Richard Schwerdtfeger stated he felt ‘Personalisation’ and ‘Contextualisation’ were the hot topics to follow. Interesting because the GPII addresses both of these topics.
  • Awards – Apart from SS12 mentioned above, I witnessed Mick Curran receiving the Deque Amaze award for NVDA from Preety and the honorees of the Knowbility Community Heroes awards. These included Jarrad Smith for Web AIM’s excellent learning resources, Molly Holzshlag for Lifetime Achievement and Steve Faulkner for being ever “mighty”.
  • Service dogs – always soooo pet-able but working hard so you mustn’t. This year labs were not so numerous and I saw more GSDs and Collies.

Yello lab service dog lying patiently under chairs

  • Friends – I had an lovely time chatting to many folks and then hanging out with good friends over the weekend. Happy memories of touring the USS Midway aircraft carrier (and clambering through endless hatches),  watching Skydiving and reminiscing about bands (and chips) from “up norf”.
  • Exhibition – not much to say really. I walked around it. Much like any year. Gregg and Amerish when round talking to many AT suppliers and demoing the GPII Automatic Personalisation from Preferences to see who would be interested in working with it. It seems all were keen and A1 Squared (of ZoomText & now Windows Eyes) are also on board. Great work. Now the Tiger Team have to get going!
  • Not so good – I left my phone at home so no pictures and I still haven’t seen the inimitable Viking and the Lumberjack in action! Also Days Inn Harbour view breakfast is, with the exception of the orange juice, ultra naff. Finally, BA’s seating policies means it’s very hard to get seats with extra legroom; I got  lucky on the way out but not back.
  • On the way home – Gareth Ford Williams recommend I watch Whiplash. I did and it is excellent – recommended if you like Jazz and don’t mind lots of swearing. Better yet – it’s not yet another a Hollywood bluckbuster (YAHB).

CSUN – I hope to be there next year.

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