Vision-Aid announces Chieko Asakawa as keynote speaker for the 2017 Boston Accessibility Conference

Chieko Asakawa

CAMBRIDGE, MA– Vision-Aid, a non-profit organization in its pursuit to bring about awareness, technologies and low cost solutions for the visually impaired, announced that Chieko Asakawa will be the keynote speaker at the 2017 Boston Accessibility Conference on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 in Cambridge, MA.

The conference will be held at IBM Innovation Center in Cambridge. It’s a free event. For more information, visit: .

Asakawa will talk about Cognitive Assistant for the Blind. Here is the summary of the talk:

Computers have been changing the lives of blind people. Synthesized voice helped them access online services. Now, new cognitive computing technologies are reaching the point where computers can help in sensing, recognizing, and understanding real-world for people without vision.

Chieko Asakawa

In this talk, Asakawa will talk about her research activities related to Information Accessibility that she has been working with, at IBM Research. Then, after introducing the concept of Cognitive Assistant for the Blind, she will show us a large-scale indoor navigation system, NavCog which her team has developed, as the first step toward the goal. Lastly, computer vision-based technologies that should help improve the quality of lives for the blind will be covered by showing a variety of demos and videos.

Asakawa has been instrumental in furthering accessibility research and development for three decades. By challenging traditional thinking on how the visually impaired use technology, she has explored solutions to improve Web accessibility and usability for the visually impaired and others with special needs. Series of pioneering technologies generated under Asakawa’s leadership significantly contributed in advancing information accessibility, including groundbreaking work in digital Braille and voice Web browser.

Today, Asakawa is focusing on advancing cognitive assistant research to help the blind regain information by augmenting missing or weakened abilities in the real world. She is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and IBM Academy of Technology. She was inducted into the Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame in 2003.

Asakawa was appointed to IBM Fellow in 2009, IBM’s most prestigious technical honor. In 2013, the government of Japan awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon to her. She has been also serving as an IBM Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University since 2014.

The conference will also include:

–  Panel discussion on Innovations in Low Cost Assistive Technology solutions

– Panel discussion on Empowering and employing the visually impaired, among other topics.


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