Happy Ada Lovelace Day, Indrani Medhi!

Indrani Mehdi is worthy of an Ada Lovelace Day tribute.

On 8 March 2010 at EmTech India 2010, the Emerging Technologies Conference held in Bengaluru, India, she was honored as a technological trendsetter. March 8th is, incidentally, International Women's Day, and Medhi was the only woman to be honored with inclusion in the India TR35 roll of honors. This is "a list of 20 promising young innovators under 35 handpicked by an eminent jury selected by Technology Review India."

Why did Medhi, an Associate Researcher at Microsoft Research India, receive this award? She received it for her work "in helping those who cannot read use mobile phones and PCs easily."

Here is an appetizer from a news article about Mehdi entitled Rewriting human-computer interaction handbook:

A student of design, Medhi has developed text-free user interfaces (UIs) to allow any illiterate or semi-literate person on first contact with a computer, to immediately know how to proceed with minimal or no assistance. As Medhi points out, in text-based conventional information architecture found in mobile phones and PCs, there are a number of usability challenges that semi literate people face. By using a combination of voice, video and graphics in an innovative way, Medhi has overcome this challenge. Medhi discovered the kind of barriers that illiterate populations face in using technology through an ethnographic design process involving more than 400 women from low-income, low-literate communities across India, the Philippines, and South Africa.

That article has more information about additional factors revealed in Mehdi's research such as cognitive issues and cultural etiquette. Do read it for a quick introduction.

Download a copy of Mehdi's paper entitled "A Comparison of Mobile Money-Transfer UIs for Non-Literate and Semi-Literate Users" (495 Kb .pdf).

Here is a brief slideshow of Mehdi's project (requires the Flash Player).

This slide show is also available on the EmTech site.  Updated.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day 2010, Indrani Medhi! Namaste!

(PS Thank you to @PerBusch who discovered this news on @mobileactive and shared the tip on Twitter.)

Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for January 9

We present to you a menu of tidbits collected in recent days that are too short for blog posts and sometimes too long for a tweet (when we want to add clarifying comments). Headings provide a light grouping to help you skim the offerings. Bon appétit!

Technology, Tools, and Devices


The year in captions for 2009.

Usability and Design

  • What are the essential points of usability? Watch this recording of Steve Krug [No klonger availkable.] and "The Least You Can Do About (TM) Usability" from the Business of Software conference in Boston, September 3-4, 2008 (includes pet peeve – audience asks questions with no microphone and speaker doesn't repeat questions. Grrr!)


  • A Guide to Ensuring Your E-Learning Materials Are Accessible and Inclusive (.pdf). JISC Regional Support Centre, Scotland North & East, Edinburgh’s Telford College. [Scotland]
  • Disability Information Scotland is a national project that provides reliable, accurate, and accessible information for people living with disability in Scotland. They offer several free online certificate courses designed to improve your general knowledge and understanding of accessible Information. They also provide excellent Training Resources & Publications [Scotland]
  • What do you think will happen in 2010? In the January 2010 article "Predictions for 2010" by the staff of eLearn magazine, Roger Schank predicted that e-learning on mobile phones (m-learning) would go away. (At the start of each year, eLearn Magazine's contributors predict what changes are afoot for the coming 12 months.) His prediction was attacked by many in a lively debate about Roger Schank's Prediction for 2010 in eLearn Magazine's blog (no longer available). Read his followup post about this in "Learning Hasn’t Changed (guest post by Roger Schank)", December 13, 2012.

Related Links

Interviews with Accessibility Movers and Shakers

  • From India comes a great article published in the STC Intercom, "
    Accessibility in India: An Interview with Shilpi Kapoor
    ", by By Makarand Pandit, Intercom, August 2013.
  • In other news from India, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched "the first website of a Ministry of the Government of India that fulfills accessibility norms for Persons with Disabilities."
  • From China comes an interview with Frances West, Director, IBM Human Ability & Accessibility Center (HA&AC). The article's title is "Advancing Technological and Societal Inclusion in China". (no longer available as of May 11, 2014)
  • Visionaware had an interview with Pratik Patel "Pratik Patel's Passion for Knowledge". Mr. Patel is the Director of Information Technology Access for the City University of New York and member of the Governor's Advisory Council to the New York State Department of Education. His passion for knowledge is what makes him an interesting person to follow on Twitter and elsewhere. You know you'll learn something from him!
  • Disaboom recently interviewed Dr. Alan Brightman, Senior Policy Director for Special Communities at Yahoo!, Inc., and the Founder of Apple Computer's Worldwide Disability Solutions Group, in a two-part article. The first interview with Dr. Brightman discusses his roles as "Assistive Technology Pioneer, Advocate for People with Disabilities". The second interview with Dr. Brightman discusses how his workplace, Yahoo!, "gets" disability, accessibility, and assistive technology. This goes in the category of "must-read". (unfortunately, the disaboom website is no longer on line as of May 11, 2014.)


The Irish Times article "Wheelchair access to concerts" highlights the issues facing concertgoers with wheelchairs, as well as the (lack of) understanding at concert venues. (PDF of the article: "Irish wheelchair users fight lines to get concert tickets".


"Nil by mouth" (Nothing by Mouth) is a post by movie critic, Roger Ebert, about not being able to eat or drink after his throat surgeries, posted 6 Jan 2010. Read it. [Note: this has nothing to do with the bleak Gary Oldman 1998 movie "Nil by Mouth".]

Weekend Fun

Link Contributors

This post was glued together with links or inspiration from many people. They are listed with their Twitter names.


Thanks to all of you!