How iPads Can Make Meetings More Accessible

An article in today’s New York Times talks about power of the iPad to open up the world for the disabled, including a 7-year-old-boy with a motor-neuron disease. The iPad has been so quickly embraced by disabled users, the story points out, because it comes right out the box with built-ins like closed captioning, magnification, and audible read-outs.

It reminded me of an exchange I had last May with Phillip Arbuckle, the president of MeetingTrack, in Kansas City. Phillip had already grasped the iPad’s potential to help attendees with hearing and vision loss enhance their meeting experience.

Attendees can download meeting presentations to iPad, where they they then can enlarge the images to whatever size meets their visual needs, he suggested. And earphones used with the devices give individuals control over the volume level. “By streaming a meeting via the internet, the user could ‘tune in’ via the iPad,” Arbuckle said. ” This would allow the user to see and hear the session up close.”

Arbuckle’s company recently did a session that hired a a sign-language interpreter for the deaf. The interpreter stood to one side of the stage and faced an area where those needing this service were seated. “This didn’t give those people any flexibility on where to sit,” Arbuckle said. ” I thought at the time that if we could capture the sign-language on a camera and stream it to the iPad, those people could sit anywhere in the audience.”

“We have some magical tools that can be used for a lot of good — if we’ll only use our imagination to explore the possibilities,” Arbuckle said.

There will be more about how Arbuckle’s team is using iPads to improve their work practices, in the December issue of Convene.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.