e-Access'15 conference part 2

(Continued from the previous post…)

In the second part of the plenary Kathleen Egan, Programmes Manager at Age UK London, presented the valuable work done by the charity on digital inclusion. She discussed a project to use teenagers as volunteer mentors, and referred to the Digital inclusion evidence review, 2013 (PDF).

The final session of the morning was by Paul Smyth, Head of IT Accessibility at Barclays Bank. Paul Smyth and his colleagues have acheived a high-level of buy-in and ownership of Web accessibility from the bank’s senior management.


I was happy to have lunch with Roger Wilson-Hinds and Natasha Beauharnais. They are both involved with Georgie Phone, a suite of low-cost Android mobile phone apps for the vision-impaired. These look very promising – I must take a look. And, I think I’ve met Roger at previous events…

The afternoon started for me with setting up for the round-table discussion that I was chairing, title “OU Media Player: Mainstreaming video accessibility”. My colleague, Peter Devine, put a lot of work into an A0 poster, that I hope the participants found useful.

I’m fairly used to giving presentations. However, this was my first time chairing a discussion, and I was feeling nervous. We had a good number of attendees for the discussion – between 9 and 11. People attended from a wide variety of organizations, including the RNIB, the University of Southampton, and the Worshipful Co of Information Technologists.

Here are some of the questions that were asked and discussed:

  • Did I have documentation on how to make a media player accessible? (Answer: not yet)
  • How had we made the player accessible? (Answer: heavily customized MediaElement.js + testing + iterate…)
  • What formats/ file types did the player support? (Answer: generally those formats supported natively by browsers - via HTML 5; and those supported by Flash. So: mp3 audio, mp4, m4v and FLV video)
  • Did it support, eg. YouTube/Vimeo? (Answer: the underlying MediaElement.js framework does support YouTube; OU Media Player doesn’t yet – watch this space)
  • Was it going to be open sourced? (Answer: yes)
  • When? (Answer: at the time of the conference I couldn’t say. Now I can say, within the next 6 months)
  • What about DRM? (Answer: not considered yet. )

What I learnt about chairing a panel:

  • Have ideas jotted down for things to discuss - if there is a lull in conversation (I found there was a lull, and I wasn’t quite prepared for it)
  • Be prepared to drive or guide things;
  • Try to include everyone, not just the most vocal (not sure I managed that);
  • Find a way to take notes;
  • Do a “register” at the start, so that you have everyone’s contact details (should be obvious);
  • Go round at the start asking people to introduce themselves, explain what they want from the discussion (I think I did this – not sure how well though);
  • Hand out “feedback questionnaires” (meant to print some, ran out of time);

Possibly useful links:

Thank you to all who attended the discussion. And, thank you to the event organisers, Dan Jellinek and his team.

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