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CCATP #680 – Gregg Vanderheiden on 50 Years in Accessibility

This week our guest is Gregg Vanderheiden, Professor and Director Trace R&D Center at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because I recently interviewed him at 19:40 on the NosillaCast about a product called Morphic. When we were preparing for that interview, Gregg started to tell me some fascinating stories about the early days of accessibility, and I asked him if he’d come back and tell us about it in Chit Chat Across the Pond.

In our conversation, he talks about how he got tricked into getting interested in accessibility, and how he quit his job to start the Trace Institute which has been a pioneer in high-impact research and development in tech and disability. He then told fascinating stories of how he was invited to work with Apple in the John Scully days. At that time they felt that accessibility was important enough to dedicate 40KB of space on the system disk. To give that some perspective, back then the operating system ran on one or two 400KB floppies!

This was a fascinating discussion not just because Gregg is a great storyteller but because of the lessons his vivid examples teach about how we think about people with disabilities.

You can find more about the Trace Institute at trace.umd.edu/…, the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure at gpii.net/… and his work on the Morphic project (coming into beta in just two weeks) at morphic.org/…

You can follow Morphic on Twitter @mymorphic or Gregg’s very infrequent tweets at @Greggvan.

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