CfDC Minutes — March 6, 2013

Attending: Jack Bernard (Chair); Anna Ercoli Schnitzer (Coordinator/Scribe); Gerald Hoff; Randi Johnson; Mary Reilly; Joyojeet Pal; Sue Wortman (Welcome, Sue!); Patricia F. Anderson; Jess Mitchell; Margaret Goebel; Stuart Segal; Carolyn Grawi; Daniel Young; Sally Hart Petersen; Amy Shepherd; Jane Vincent; Sally Lindsley; Paul Guttman; Els Nieuwenhuijsen; Jill Rice; Lloyd Shelton; Christa Moran

The meeting was brought to order by Jack, our Council Chair, and introductions were made around the table. Jack conveyed information about a bill being proposed to Congress by the National Federation for the Blind that would place a greater burden on postsecondary institutions relating to ITS accessibility issues. Discussion of whether such legislation will be achievable and of various means of bringing about change: inspiring/persuading/compelling. Syllabi language effectively used to inspire UM faculty to provide accommodations.


Anna announced having just attended workshop on conferencing methods (interest in reaching out to disability units in other campuses).

Jane announced that the Knox Center is being expanded to 3 or 4 times its original size and remodeled; opinions have been solicited from students and there is website for further input (anonymous):

Two undergraduates, students who are taking independent studies, are doing a project looking for quiet spaces or “hidden gems” for students to use to study. Stuart is looking for graduate students to be come involved in the Council for graduate students on disabilities issue and they can contact for more information on that.

Christa reminded the members that Andrew Solomon will be will be appearing at the Michigan League Ballroom on 4-12-2013 to talk about his book "Far from the Tree." The book signing will be at 4 pm and the discussion of the book will be at 5pm. Disabilities and marginalized populations are the topics. He will also talk at Crazy Wisdom at noon on the following day. Anna will send information.

Patricia brought up the topic of the AATA website usability testing for which a wide range of volunteers is still needed.

Joyojeet told about the 3 countries (India, Jordan, Peru and in the future Sierra Leone) he is studying re: disability issues. He also provided an update on a group of students captioning for Open Michigan and also an easy captioning interface for YouTube (in conjunction with the Language Resource Center). He attended a UNESCO meeting and reported on the use of mobile devices in India according to gender; if interested in a document on disability law or for further details, please contact him at


Jess Mitchell, our special presenter, provided a PowerPoint-accompanied talk on her work with GPII (Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure). She reported that ideally accessibility factors need to be designed and put into place at the beginning of a program, not installed retroactively. She listed the myths of accessibility: 1) that it is only about special needs; 2) that only a few will benefit from it—80 to 20%; 3) that it is costly and complicated; 4) that it must be uglier than non-accessible design. She talked about educating people about accessibility and about finding out who the users are and what the process is--to avoid paralysis about starting a project. Problems occur because of mismatch between user and interface; because of cultural obstacles; because of contextual difficulties; because of environmental factors; because of either temporary or persistent difficulties. The definition of accessibility is the ability of the system to accommodate the user (e.g., "make yourself at home") with possibility of adapting to needs/preferences/taste of each user and with content that fits delivered in the form that the user can use. Personalization is very important because what benefits someone either will or won't benefit someone else. Jess then described the goal of GPII: to change the user's interface to all devices on the fly by means of the cloud, where needs and preferences can be securely stored and shared, with help available on demand. For more information, please see: