Microsoft Ability Summit 2020
May 27, 2020, New York, USA
Microsoft Ability Summit 2020
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Innovation & Accessibility: A Race with No Finish Line | IMAGINE
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Mary Bellard
Senior Accessibility Architect at Microsoft
Wendy Chisholm
Principal Accessibility Architect at Microsoft
Kartik Sawhney
Software Engineer at Microsoft

Mary Bellard is the Senior Accessibility Architect at Microsoft. There, she leads the accessibility innovation program to bring more inclusive and revolutionary ideas to market. Previously, she strategized the overall accessibility training curriculum for employees and external partners to drive progress in usable experiences for everyone. Mary played a key role in developing the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk when she joined the company in 2014 and has worked as an advocate for the disability community for more than 9 years. Mary co-leads the Materials Task Force for Teach Access, which is working to include accessibility and universal design principles in the curricula of computer scientists, designers and researchers. She holds a dual certification from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, whose objective is to help those working in accessibility develop and advance their careers. Mary is originally from Brooklyn, NY and loves running with her dog. She is motivated by the exciting opportunities a career in the accessibility field has afforded her to help technology reach more people.

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I am an author and strategist who has pushed to make the world more equitable since 1995. I co-wrote “Universal Design for Web Applications” with Matt May (O’Reilly, 2008) and edited Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and 2.0. I have appeared as Wonder Woman in a web comic with the other HTML5 Super Friends and as myself at Ignite Seattle. In 2014, I gave a short keynote at OSCON, “Introvert? Extrovert? Klingon? We’ve got you covered.”As a Principal Accessibility Architect at Microsoft, I lead AI for Accessibility–a $25 million grant program that aims to accelerate the development of accessible and intelligent AI solutions that amplify human capability for the more than 1 billion people worldwide with a disability. Previously, I helped start the infusion of accessibility throughout Microsoft’s internal engineering systems; worked to make Visual Studio Team Services more accessible; shepherded Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and 2.0. as staff for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C); helped the University of Washington’s AccessComputing project increase the number of people with disabilities in computing fields; contributed to the development of WebAnywhere–a screen reader on the go; and independently consulted for companies including Microsoft, Google, and Adobe to integrate universal design into their products and as a consultant for the American Foundation for the Blind. I have a B.S. in Computer Science and M.S. in Industrial Engineering/Human Factors.

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I graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science, focusing on artificial intelligence and human computer interaction. My interests lie in the intersection of technology and business, and I enjoy machine learning, natural language processing, data mining, universal design, accessibility and assistive technologies. My past experience includes internships at IBM Research, Microsoft and Uber, as well as research experience with Stanford HCI group.I am passionate about using technology to bring about positive change, and have worked on several projects and initiatives over the years to empower people with disabilities. I founded project STEMAccess in 2013 that provides resources, support and mentorship for blind math and science students in India. In 2017, I alongwith some other blind math and science students in India launched I-Stem (inclusivestem.org) that expands on this work, focusing on advocacy and research to enhance STEM accessibility. This has now evolved in an edtech organization focused on developing assistive technology to empower students and professionals with disabilities. In 2016, I also co-founded an award-winning social venture NextBillion.org, a mentorship program for students with disabilities interested in tech. So far, we have completed over 85 mentorships across 10 countries.

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Sharing projects where people with disabilities elevate innovation, ignite the AI for Accessibility community, and teach us what it means to never be finished.

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