2004 Conference Proceedings

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INNOVATION IN ACCESSIBILITY THROUGH IP

Presenters
Patty Mertz
Cisco Systems, Inc.
170 W. Tasman Drive
San Jose, CA 95134
Email: pmertz@cisco.com

Introduction:

Internet Protocol (IP) is bringing new capabilities to the workplace - especially in the area of IP telephony. IP telephony is used by over 10,000 organizations and by millions of people. The challenge is to ensure that, as the phones and their sophisticated applications evolve, IP telephony continues to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Fortunately, this technology evolution does not have to create barriers for people with disabilities. Unlike traditional systems, Voice over IP (VoIP) is based on non-proprietary protocols and is built using industry standards. This open interface means that organizations are not dependent on their PBX vendor to develop needed applications or features. Instead, they can mix and match the best-of-breed applications to suit their end-user and business needs.

Using innovatively designed IP Telephony products, with non-proprietary interfaces, third parties can create applications to supplement the IP telephony vendor's development in order to meet the needs of all people, regardless of disability.

Customer Perspective

The University of Arizona Disability Resource Center's (DRC) facilitates full access for students and employees with disabilities, is an advocate for a universally designed campus environment, and promotes disability culture and community. They provide services to over 1500 students and campus employees with disabilities each year.

The DRC chose the Cisco® IP Communications solution not only for its accessibility features, enabling them to improve their own workplace, but also with the idea that IP could bring innovation to accessibility to the entire campus and beyond.

The DRC immediately benefited from Cisco's IP Communications solution and Calence's applications. Through the combination of the unique phone design and Extensible Markup Language (XML) audio applications, the phone system became more accessible for all users.

Understanding the simplicity of non-proprietary IP standards, the DRC is looking to become a leader in the development of accessible applications. With their unique understanding of the disabled community, they can take their own IP Telephony infrastructure and develop applications to help themselves, the University and the community.

Through IP Telephony, not only does The University of Arizona Disability Resource Center gain a solution that improves the accessibility of its workplace, but the non-proprietary interfaces of IP will help The University of Arizona Disability Resource Center to become one of the foremost centers in development of accessible IP applications.

Partner Perspective

Calence is a Cisco partner specializing in the deployment of IP PBX systems and in the development of XML applications. Calence not only recognized the possibility of improving the DRC's accessibility through Cisco's IP Communications; they enabled the introduction of the technology to benefit the center and the university.

For example, Calence's XML audio applications meant that applications such as audio caller ID were part of the centralized phone system. No special equipment was needed on the desktop for caller ID to be audible.

Also, they introduced the concept of non-proprietary standards that gave the center the idea that they could make the applications themselves to improve accessibility in their workplace. The DRC understood that as they become familiar with the IP Communications and its possibilities, they would also have ideas for inventing new applications in accessibility. Calence helped them see what the possibilities in IP could be for them and for others.

Manufacture Perspective

Cisco recognizes the need to provide fast and easy ways to improve the productivity in the workplace. By developing a non-proprietary XML interface for the IP Phones, Cisco supplements its own development efforts by allowing third party software developers to create applications to improve efficiencies in the enterprise.

In addition to the phone network, Cisco is developing products that are conducive to unique and innovative accessibility applications. Developers use the features of our products as a basis for their innovative, accessible applications. Some examples of the Cisco IP phone are:

From an accessibility standpoint, a non-proprietary platform along with innovative product design means that virtually anyone can create applications that bring accessibility to a new and higher level.

Cisco does not know exactly where this technology will take us, but VoIP is the platform with the flexibility to take us to the next level and beyond.


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