Conference Abstracts - Seth Bravin

Accessible Social Software & Collaboration Tools for Business

Seth Bravin, Accessibility Strategy & Solutions
IBM Human Ability & Accessibility Center

In today's workplaces, social and collaboration software are invaluable to teams that are often distributed across geographies and work groups/divisions. Social media and collaborative development tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Wikipedia have changed how people shared information in the past five years.

Organizations can empower employees with social and collaboration tools that allow them to work where, how and with whomever they want across a global enterprise ecosystem. However, the pervasiveness of technology can create barriers to access and use for millions of people worldwide. Accessibility can play an integral role in eliminating these barriers while making technology more flexible and adaptive for everyone else.

Television closed captioning and captioning of videos on the Internet are good examples. While both enable access to rich content for people with hearing loss, hosts of others take advantage of the technology to better understand content in public settings with distracting ambient noise (e.g., airports, restaurants).

At IBM, we rely on social software and collaboration tools to help all employees -- regardless of their age or ability -- to effectively share information, collaborate and work together across the many divisions in our enterprise. By integrating accessible solutions from the outset into our infrastructure, IBM helps ensure that employees with disabilities can walk through the door and immediately be competitively productive from their very first day on the job.

In this presentation, Seth Bravin of IBM's Human Ability & Accessibility Center will speak about the importance of such tools and give concrete scenarios of how such tools are used to encourage equal participation by employees with disabilities. Seth, who is also deaf, will present two compelling examples from IBM's own experience:

(1) Lotus Connections 3.0 ( which is an accessible social software platform used to help employees manage employee profiles, online communities, blogs, wikis, file-sharing, integrated activity management and more; and

(2) IBM AbilityLab Sametime Conference Transcriber ( which provides speech-to-text capability using automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology and integrated into the company's Lotus Sametime messaging platform.

A smarter, more accessible workplace environment creates greater inclusion throughout an organization's internal and external ecosystem. Organizations can gain a competitive advantage by leveraging social and collaborative development tools to enhance their employees' productivity and improve organizational performance.

View slides from this presentation.