SXSW 2016

 SXSW 2016 Summary

At SXSW 2016, the world’s biggest interact festival, Gene and Dave examine many of the disability related products, services, and presentations  that can enable people with disabilities.  We learned about unique assistive technology, we got the low down on the latest in accessible information technology, and learned how to “see” without eyes, donate our voice, and interact with all sorts of gadgets.  Learn how blind people can watch a Disney movie, how blind people can edit music, and how children with autism can paint on fabric, over and over again.

(re)Make The World: Designing for Disability

We were really impressed with this session. These folks partnered with Google to make something they called Tikkun Olam Makers, or TOM for short.  I met one of the speakers, a woman named Kim. I think her video will explain it better than I can. I hope this sounds okay, I stole it from their website

We were so impressed with this presentation we committed to getting involved in bringing TOM to Austin, and already started recruiting people to work with us on this, so we’re looking forward to Austin TOM.

Mainstreaming Accessibility

By Light House for the Blind and Visually Impaired

This panel was really exciting because they’re talking about mainstream accessibility. If we have some disability issue we have to google vendors to find specialty stuff we need, But these people are out there and they’re trying to make accessibility seamless.  Some folks from Pixar tell their story, this is Jonas Rivera in Paul Cichcki.

Okay so just to be clear let’s say you’re watching the Disney movie you Got a remote you select audio description enabled by Disney movie anywhere that’s DNA and whatever DVD Blu-ray or movie you’re watching you will hear someone describe between the dialogue description of the people furniture they’re there Color size and shape this is also that people who are blind can enjoy movies. I thought that was a great story.

Dave just when you think you’ve heard it all also at this mainstreaming accessibility panel we met a gentleman name Christian Erfurt, the Chief Executive Officer

This is such a great organization let’s say that you’re blind and you want to go do your kids want to see your kids baseball game. So you get on the web to be in my and the it’ll guide you through what steps to take next entering your smart phone video mode to whatever you want to see.

So let’s say you’re at your kids baseball game and your blind. You point your smart phone at the baseball field and someone at in will describe the game to you. They will tell you there’s a runaround base or the batter hits a long drive into left field or whatever. You can really use it for anything though. Some people were visually impaired have called in and they do want to make a recipe but they can see what spices they’ve got, or what’s in their refrigerator and they’ll just point their phone camera in the kitchen and someone at bemyeyes will describe what is where.

This mainstream accessibility panel was being moderated by John from lighthouse for the blind in San Francisco so it’s no surprise they also have someone presenting how sound editing software for people who are blind. We met a gentleman there from who will tell you how to get free software to edit your music. So if there are singers out there or any musicians who want edit your own music, and are blind, go to to get the tools to do it.


There was another presenter they’re that I believe we saw last year talking about vocal ID. Imagine this your child needs an augmentative communication device. That means you type whenever you want to be said and electronic voice will speak whatever you dictate. Well, if you’re a kid especially if your little girl and the only voices out there are Male and sound older it could be very disappointing. What the people at vocal ID did is have people of all ages to come in and record a number of voice samples, and then they have the disabled person come and make whatever sound can whether they grunt or mumble something the folks of vocal ID will marry those two sound samples, the voice of the person and the voice of someone of the same gender in similar age. I think it’s a great way to donate your voice.

Over ten million people live with voicelessness. Much like Stephen Hawking, they rely on text-to-speech devices to express themselves. Yet, young or old, male or female, shy or outgoing — they all speak with similar voices.

Add to that the hundreds of millions who use generic sounding virtual assistants, GPS navigation, and screen readers, it becomes increasingly clear that digital voices must evolve.

VocaliD is the voice company that is bringing speaking machines to life. We leverage our voicebank and proprietary voice blending technology to create unique vocal persona for any device that turns text into speech.  Check out VocalID’s web site,, to learn how you can donate your voice to help someone who has a speech impairment.

Michigan State textile –interactive textile for autistic kids

Dave looks for Gene


Dewey Awards

The Dewey Awards honor people from all over the world who use technology and media to provide community service and inspire others.  Gene is a former Dewey Winburne Award nominee.

The Dewey Awards was officiated by Sharron Rush, founder of Knowbility.  Knowblity does ground breaking work in Austin, making the WEB accessible for people with disabilities.


R2D2 Interview

Access issues, buttons, ramps, Zach gets carried

Other robots


No motorized vehicles sign

Dave rolls on fish mat – by Lumo Interactive

AJ – EpiWatch

Brittany – AbleThrive

Brittany and Ian, Ian has computer chip in his brain

Tech Inclusion – Steve Guengerich, Knowbility Co-founder and first board chairman


The Gene and Dave Show would like to thank:

SXSW Press Group

R2D2, courtesy of Central Texas Droids.

Presenters and vendors, including,

Dewey Awards,

Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM)

Our sponsors, Celia Hughes with VSA of Texas, and

Amerigroup for funding captions and crew.

Doug and the crew at Austin Public, that have helped us produce

The Gene and Dave Show.

And our cameraman, Matt Broome.