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Adina Halter on Breaking Barriers for Accessible Tech

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Adina Halter is Senior Product Manager and Chief Technologist for Accessibility at Comcast and a featured speaker at Philly Tech Week 2018 presented by Comcast. Here’s a preview of what she’ll share at PTW 2018!

When designing any product or service, it’s important to ensure it is accessible for all people. This includes tools like screen readers and magnifiers for blind individuals or those with low vision, audible output for people with dyslexia, and even eye-tracking software for those with physical disabilities.

Adina Halter and her team are doing fascinating work in the field of accessibility at Comcast NBCUniversal, forging a new path for how tech companies approach product design.

“Developing inclusively is developing for all,” Halter said. “Accessible design is universal design.”

Halter’s work helps blind, deaf, and physically disabled customers – from arthritis sufferers to quadriplegics – access an array of Comcast’s technologies. The team is also experimenting with using artificial intelligence to video describe live sporting events. This experiment uses machine learning techniques to differentiate and describe complex physical movements – like a sit spin or a camel spin, two similar but distinct movements common in ice skating.

“If we can utilize deep learning to teach a computer what these moves are, we will be able to build an artificial intelligent agent that will be able to describe sporting events on the fly without the expense of hiring voice talent.”

Accessibility is a space where startups can really make an impact. Halter has four pieces of advice for founders to make their products accessible – and why it’s important:

• Semantics will solve 90% of your problems for web. You don’t need tricks, but you need to know every single HTML tag like the back of your hand.

• Always do real UX testing. We can do our best to guess what the differing disability communities need, but we must be willing to get something out there in beta and give it to the community, so they can tell us what we can do better.

• You don’t know how big you’re going to get. Startups want to be big. Once they get big, they need to make sure their products are already accessible.

• Be ready for everything. I think if we keep a sense of wonderment, and if we are continuous learners, always trying new things. it won’t matter what’s coming in the future

Halter’s profound passion will take the stage at Philly Tech Week 2018 Presented by Comcast. She will deliver a 10 minute presentation, “Making the Web Accessible for All” during Introduced by Technical.ly on Thursday, May 3rd at 9:00am in the Science History Institute.

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