Introducing the Maryland Initiative for Digital Accessibility (MIDA)
Jonathan Lazar, Paul T. Jaeger, Ana Palla
Date: April 27, 2023
The world of digital technologies and content is designed to meet the needs of the average person, often creating inaccessibility for people with disabilities. That means that over 20% of people are structurally excluded from education, employment, and healthcare. The Maryland Initiative for Digital Accessibility will make technology accessible and help make the world more inclusive of and for people with disabilities. Read more about MIDA.
About the Speakers
Dr. Jonathan Lazar is a professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, USA. Dr. Lazar joined the University of Maryland in 2019, after 19 years as a professor of computer and information sciences at Towson University, where he served as director of the information systems program for 14 years.
Dr. Lazar has authored or edited 16 books, including Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction (2nd edition, co-authored with Heidi Feng and Harry Hochheiser), Ensuring Digital Accessibility Through Process and Policy (co-authored with Dan Goldstein and Anne Taylor), Disability, Human Rights, and Information Technology (co-edited with Michael Stein), Accessible Technology and the Developing World (co-edited with Michael Stein), Universal Usability: Designing Computer Interfaces for Diverse User Populations, and Web Usability: A User-Centered Design Approach. His 16th book, Foundations of Information Law (co-authored with Paul Jaeger, Ursula Gorham, and Natalie Greene Taylor) will be published in mid-2023. He has published over 150 refereed articles in journals, conference proceedings, edited books, and magazines, and has been granted two US patents for his work on accessible web-based security features for blind users.
Dr. Lazar frequently serves as an adviser to government agencies and regularly provides testimony at federal and state levels, and multiple US federal regulations cite his research publications. He has been on the Executive Board of the Friends of the Maryland Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped since 2009, has served as the co-chair of the Cambridge University Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology (CWUAAT) since 2012, has been on the program committee of the ACM Conference on Accessible Computing (ASSETS) most years since 2006, and served on the executive committee from ACM SIGCHI from 2010-2015. Dr. Lazar was the general chair of the ASSETS 2021 conference. Dr. Lazar is the director of the Trace Center and is a faculty member in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab.
Paul T. Jaeger
Paul T. Jaeger is a Professor at the College of Information Studies, and Director of the Information Policy and Access Center (iPAC) at the University of Maryland, College Park. A lifelong member of the disability community, Paul has spent much of his career writing and teaching about the ways in which laws and policies shape the experiences of disabled people, as well as advocating for improvements to those laws and policies. Paul is an unshakable mentor to nontraditional students in higher education and has won multiple awards which only begin to scratch the surface of the support he offers students. Paul is also a renowned scholar in his field of Library and Information Sciences, bringing Critical Disability Studies and Accessibility to the forefront of conversations around information justice. Paul co-founded the Disability Summit with Dr. Stephanie J. Cork.
Dr. Ana Palla is a Senior IT Accessibility and UX Specialist at the Academic Technology & Innovation unit in the Division of Information Technology at the University of Maryland. Dr. Palla leads the University of Maryland’s digital accessibility efforts, which include overseeing the implementation of the UMD IT Accessibility Plan, web accessibility policy, and many services, tools, and guidelines for accessible on-campus media production, accessible e-learning tools, and procurement of accessible technology. Dr. Palla has an affiliation with the School of Public Health as a lecturer, the College of Information Studies as a member of the Maryland Institute of Digital Accessibility (MIDA) and has served as co-chair for the UMD President’s Commission on Disability Issues (PDCI) for 7 years where disability advocacy and community engagement was a central role of her activities.