Category Archives: Accessibility & Assistive Tech

Microsoft’s intelligent cloud powers customer innovation across industries

https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2018/01/31/story-behind-microsofts-earnings-intelligent-cloud-powers-customer-innovation-across-industries/?

 

Hey, everyone I found an articles on LinkedIn about Microsoft’s latest creation. It’s about how Microsoft’s intelligent cloud powers that embraces customer innovation and other industries that affects through technology and other services. Take a look at the latest creation from Microsoft.

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Virtual Reality Body Suit and Seeing Al

Here are two posts I found on FB and Twitter, everyone. One post that I found on FB is an virtual reality body suit that can simulate pain and pressure. The other post that I found on Twitter is a free app called Seeing Al that support low vision and help people with vision issues how to text, object and more by holding on your phone and watch the video. Please, go to Facebook and type BBC Technology News and scroll down until you see Telasuit and go to Twitter and type fightblindess. And everyone please liked, comment and questions.

Makeathon at Kellogg Northwestern

On April 28 – 30, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University is hosting a Makeathon where Makers and Need-Knowers (people with a deep understanding of a specific disability challenge) develop extremely affordable solutions for real-life challenges. Teams of Makers are paired with a need knower to build a product to address the Need-Knower’s unmet need over the period of a 3-day weekend. The Need-Knower gets to keep the product at the end of the weekend and the design is open for anyone in the world with the same need to use free of charge.

This would be a great opportunity to get hands-on with technologists in areas that we have been discussing at our meetings (3-D printing, Maker scene, IoT, etc.). However, you will need to act quickly. Below are the deadlines:

  • Submit an application by April 5
  • Be able to meet with paired Maker team on April 12. Transportation will be provided if needed.
  • Be able to attend the Makeathon at the Evanston Campus of Northwestern University on April 28, 29, and 30 to work with your Maker team as they develop your product. Transportation will be provided if needed.

You can see PDF of the handout flier, and apply on the Makeathon website.

Microsoft Data Scientist develops intuitive app. for vision loss

Data scientist dreams up ideas and then brings them to life

ITKAN Chat – Interview with Steve Luker

The disability community in Chicago is an active one in various sectors, from advocacy and accessibility to various employment resources like AbilityLinks, nAblement and ITKAN. These three organizations have grown in myriad ways during the past ten years. One of the most interesting people – and colleagues – that I have worked with is Steve Luker. I actually first encountered  Steve through an educational film entitled “The Forerunners”.  The film was a collaboration between The Mind Alliance, Professor Fong Chan, and Pat Maher of nAblement. It profiles several nAblement consultants, and is intended to support students with disabilities from diverse backgrounds to consider Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines and careers. Steve was also profiled as part of a Chicago Sun-Times article related to ITKAN .

Steve Luker

Steve Luker

Steve has been able to focus his disability workarounds and use of accessible technology into a budding career in IT, specializing in .NET programming and mobile game development. I was able to sit with Steve to discuss his background, career and views on IT.

Hello Steve, we have known each other for years, but for our readers, can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came into the IT sector?

I have been a Chicagoan for all of my life. I moved to the Wheaton, IL area and I am married to Michelle. I am a developer focusing on the Microsoft side of the industry. I worked on projects for BP and other large corporate clients, as well as other smaller companies. I have worked on websites and desktop applications, and am currently working on a game called “Falling Fruit”.

When did you start to develop an interest in IT?

As you know, technology users with disabilities sometimes have the opportunity to test out new accessibility devices. When I was a young child, a company came to my school with a computer which would make communicating with people easier. One of the challenges that my Cerebral Palsy creates is verbal communication. That was when I developed a rabid interest in IT. Everything I saw I thought, “I can do this or anything with this technology”.

Did IT assist you in your early education?

I started to read at age 3 so it could have been when I was 4 to 6. My disability does not allow me to speak, so I learned American Sign Language finger spelling at 5 and I was spelling every word out. What’s interesting is that I was not a good speller until I got a speech synthesizer, because I couldn’t sound out words in my head. I always found myself thinking about the possibilities that IT would bring in the future.

How did you come across nAblement?

In 2006, I met Pat Maher at an AbilityLinks networking breakfast at the College of DuPage. It was a few months after I got my degree in IT. He asked me to serve on a panel at Manpower’s corporate headquarters in Milwaukee for the Breaking Down Barriers program developed by nAblement. I was able to meet Rob Figliulo, the CEO of SPR Companies, and I really became more involved with nAblement and SPR.

I understand that you have developed a game for the Windows Phone platform. ITKAN has seen Falling Fruit, and it’s very good (and difficult!). Can you tell us about your considerations for developing the game and challenges you have faced?

I wanted to do some kind of app that would go into all of the app stores. I began thinking about how people were actually making money and what tips they gave. Instead of developing an app that people might use for a few seconds every day or two, I thought of a game that might hold people’s attention longer. That’s important when income is coming from ads or in app purchases.

I know that you are registering Falling Fruit on the Windows Store for the Windows Phone operating system. As there is so much money moving with app purchases, I’m assuming this isn’t a labor of love altogether. As Microsoft, Apple and Google are making millions with their app marketplaces, what are your expectations for revenue from Falling Fruit?

Created by Steve Luker, ITKAN member

Falling Fruit, Created by Steve Luker, ITKAN member

Well, at first, I initially thought of sit-down comedy, as there would be a lot less competition than in stand-up, but that didn’t pan out 🙂 .

From there, looking at apps as a prospective business, Apple and Google app stores take 30% of each app sold. Microsoft is different in that they take 30% up to the first 25,000 of sales. Then they take 20%. That makes it more profitable if you come up with the next Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja. I don’t mind not receiving 100% of my work, because the nice thing about all of the app stores is that they do so much of the work for you. Distribution, the billing…all of the back-end work is done well by all of the app stores. However, all of the creativity is in the hands of the app designer themselves. For example, I did some of the art myself. However, I am not much of an artist, so I ask family members and friends to help me with the more involved work.

After Falling Fruit is established and earning revenue on the Windows Store marketplace, my next goal is to roll it out on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

Were there any core needs that you had in developing Falling Fruit?

It has to do with the processor and its ability to do virtualization. That’s when the computer creates a virtual computer. The game is being developed in a game engine so it could be exported to other platforms with a lot of code reuse. So I know .NET, but the game isn’t written in that. The game engine was key to being able to create Falling Fruit.

Name your top favorite websites and why.

Microsoft has news, learning resources, documentation, etc., even for a rookie programmer, and you can use Yammer to ask Microsoft programmers questions on their message boards and internal social network. Also, any Microsoft-related sites go here as well. At ITKAN we have access to BizSpark as well, which is a great developer site for Microsoft technologies offered free to not-for-profits. Thanks to Adam Hecktman of Microsoft for supporting us in securing our BizSpark license.

Feedly is my personal news reader. There are many others out there that work well, but as a matter of personal taste, this is my pick.

Twitter is great for following news and political discussion. You can reach out and really interact with who you are tweeting.

Finally, Twit.tv is an excellent resource for programmers.

What do you think of ITKAN’s progress, the upcoming year and the road ahead for the organization?

I think we have come a very long way. There’s such a strong bond on technology and careers in technology. We had service providers, technologists and so on in the past, but now we develop a critiquing atmosphere where we want to be better IT geeks as well as prospective IT employees.  For example, I know a little about accessibility and I know where it affects me, but now I know so much more after working with ITKAN members who have visual disabilities. I’ve learned so much more that I would have ever thought I would.

Thanks, Steve.

Thanks Bill. See you on 13th of February at our next ITKAN meeting.

The Final Megatrends Presentation for 2013 and an Outlook to 2014.

The Final Megatrends Presentation for 2013 and an Outlook to 2014.

November 15, 2013 by Bill O’Connor

ITKAN’s last “Megatrends” meeting was an outstanding discussion based on “Cloud Computing”, led by Chris Kabat, Vice President and Co-Founder of MPS Partners.

Starting from a more general perspective on how cloud computing works well for small to mid-sized business to the “how” of the cloud, The presentation was very well-received, provoking questions on cost, security, control and efficiency as well as an appreciation for the incredible technology associated with a cloud data center.

Cloud

Subjects discussed were:

  • Speed of cloud setup, scale of setup and cost control
  • Cloud workforce patterns through different platforms and devices (This was fascinating stuff!)
  • The differences between how the cloud is delivered – Packaged Software, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Virtual Machines

We also discussed the Microsoft Global Data Centers, who are impact players in developing cloud services for Microsoft end-users. One of the main Global Data Centers is right here in Chicago…and it’s a green complex!

ITKAN 2013 - Megatrends

ITKAN 2013 – Megatrends

This meeting was emblematic of the essence of ITKAN, technology leaders reaching out to those who want to dig deeper into IT and developing technology, process and trends. As always, many disabilities were represented within this rich and diverse group. ITKAN extents a heartfelt thank you to Chris, Jeff Seagard  and Ross LaForte as well as our other presenters for excellent Megatrends presentations for 2013.

As always, a special word of thanks goes to Adam Hecktman, the director of the Microsoft Technology Center Chicago, for access to this great  space and his great insights, and the supportive staff of the MTC.

If you would like to join us for our strategy session for 2014 (which will be spirited!), we will be having our next meeting on December 12th at the Microsoft Technology Center Chicago, 5 PM. If you would like to reserve a spot for your next meeting, contact Pat Maher or Bill O’Connor via email, and we’ll get you on the ITKAN mailing list to  stay abreast for meeting times, subjects and other ITKAN happenings!