AXSChat Podcast

AXSChat Podcast with Dr. Anthony Giannoumis, Associate Professor of Universal Design of ICT at the Department of Computer Science at Oslo Metropolitan University

July 02, 2021 Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken talk with Anthony Giannoumis
AXSChat Podcast
AXSChat Podcast with Dr. Anthony Giannoumis, Associate Professor of Universal Design of ICT at the Department of Computer Science at Oslo Metropolitan University
Show Notes Transcript


Action researcher, social entrepreneur, equality advocate.

Anthony’s work focuses on technology policy and practice. He is an internationally recognized expert in universal design of information and communication technology (ICT). He leads several large-scale research and innovation projects based in over 27 countries.

Anthony is an Associate Professor of Universal Design of ICT at the Department of Computer Science at Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet). He maintains several international appointments including at the Harvard Law School Project on Disability at Harvard Law School, the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, the Department of Science and Informatics at the University of Eduardo Mondlane, and the Department of Education at Roma Tre University.

He works with the United Nations (UN) International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as the Vice Rapporteur for the subcommittee on ICT Accessibility and Research Coalition lead for the EQUALS Global Network. He is founder and Chair of the Board for the Global Universal Design Commission Europe AS, and Ser Innovation AS. He is a member of the board for Mfano Design Lab, the Global Universal Design Commission, Inclusive-IT, and Humans for Humans. He has been a member of the Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion and was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship as part of the DREAM research network.

Since 2014, Anthony has acted as a principal investigator for research and innovation projects with budgets totaling over 11 million EUR. He has authored over 47 peer-reviewed academic publications in leading international journals. Anthony has taught over 3,000 students. He has mentored over 23 startups, half of which have been led by women. 


00:00:03.720 --> 00:00:07.980
Neil Milliken: hello, and welcome to axschat i'm delighted today to be joined by Anthony.

00:00:10.290 --> 00:00:14.460
Neil Milliken: Anthony we had a great conversation off air, a few weeks back.

00:00:15.389 --> 00:00:30.900
Neil Milliken: you're working in academia, but also running businesses around accessibility, I thought it would be fantastic to have you on and share the work that you're doing with with our Community and our audience, so please, if you could tell us a bit about.

00:00:32.160 --> 00:00:35.850
Neil Milliken: Your background, who you are what you're doing and we'll take it from there.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: awesome awesome and thank you so much, just telling you earlier, how much of a privilege, it is for me to be here and how i've been an admiration of your work and the work that access chat so i'm just.

00:00:47.130 --> 00:00:59.460
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: i'm kind of fanboy over here about how wonderful, this is an opportunity, I guess, I started a career in industry and technology industry and then.

00:01:00.090 --> 00:01:11.880
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: realizing that it wasn't quite the match for me that I was hoping it would be, I immediately went into academia and I have a pretty interdisciplinary background everything from business.

00:01:12.210 --> 00:01:27.150
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: to public health to social and political science I happened upon this issue of universal design of technology about 10 years ago and fell madly in love and have been.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Put putting my life at the Center of that issue, ever since and part of that has been a lot of research part of that has been a lot of technology development.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: But in the last couple of years i've had the joy to launch six new businesses, focused on various issues around universal design and that's six businesses four countries three continents so it's been.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: A Labor of love and would not have been possible without the teams who are kind of making this stuff happen every day.

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Neil Milliken: and that in itself is is impressive but I mean the diversity of the businesses and where you are how how did you.

00:02:12.270 --> 00:02:28.230
Neil Milliken: decide, or what i'm going to do something in Ukraine versus Africa versus you know Scandinavia, because you're you're based in in Scandinavia, which is a hotbed of of universal design and sort of inclusive technology anyway.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: yeah I mean i'm a firm believer in following your motivation, so when I find something that gets me excited I just I wrap it in my both arms and run with it so.

00:02:42.780 --> 00:02:51.960
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Most of my initial points of contact happened, through my academic work, so it was either working with a student or maybe connecting with someone at a conference.

00:02:52.290 --> 00:02:59.040
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And then realizing that there was this spark of joy, both in our collaboration, as well as the kind of ideas, we were working with.

00:02:59.610 --> 00:03:04.590
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And so i'll just take an example, this company in Ukraine that we started a few years ago.

00:03:05.130 --> 00:03:13.440
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: It started as a random encounter at a conference a guy just approached me he said I love what you're doing, and he told me a little bit about what he was doing I said I love what you're doing.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And we connected, we started working on a new business model and we've been kind of running with it ever since.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: So you never know where these opportunities come up but it's really just about embracing it for me, whenever I find it and yeah we i'm in a very privileged position to be able to pursue these these these chances when I find them.

00:03:41.070 --> 00:03:48.450
Neil Milliken: And and sorry Antonio you got to say something you like you Okay, so we discussed previously.

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Neil Milliken: That.

00:03:51.180 --> 00:03:54.360
Neil Milliken: There was a lot of stuff we could learn from Africa.

00:03:55.230 --> 00:04:00.120
Neil Milliken: we're both interested and beginning i'm beginning to do a bit more work.

00:04:00.720 --> 00:04:06.780
Neil Milliken: In Africa with various different organizations, what is it about.

00:04:09.240 --> 00:04:20.010
Neil Milliken: places like Africa that that excites you in terms of innovation and attitudes towards technology, because because.

00:04:21.090 --> 00:04:30.690
Neil Milliken: On access chat we're always interested to see stuff going on outside of the UK USA the sort of outside of what we still want to see what's in Europe, because there is.

00:04:31.320 --> 00:04:38.880
Neil Milliken: Generally, a bias and a focus towards the English language so so so so one of the things that are you know attracted you to work.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: So i'm i'm not African.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: So I don't have any ancestry unless you go back a few hundred thousand years.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And so I don't want to speak for the Africa, you know any African country, but I have worked in Mozambique, for the past seven years and the progress i've seen.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: The country make as well as kind of the individual elements of society, make in these seven years has been profound.

00:05:07.590 --> 00:05:21.810
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And i've also gotten a chance to do a little bit of work in Uganda and a little bit of work in Somalia and it seems that a lot of the African countries are positioned to leapfrog a lot of the global North countries.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: When it comes to real social development, social impact issues and universal design and accessibility, this is one of those issues that I see as a key opportunity structure for a lot of countries in Africa in the next.

00:05:37.440 --> 00:05:47.340
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: 10 years and I, I would, if I were a betting man I would put my money on some of the, especially the urban environments and a lot of African countries.

00:05:48.090 --> 00:06:01.800
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Moving forward at a really accelerated pace on issues around accessibility around inclusion around diversity and one of the reasons I attribute this to is a lot of the mentality that we have to.

00:06:02.370 --> 00:06:11.040
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Take in the global north of the mental models, we need to use in order to understand and relate to marginalized groups of people.

00:06:11.340 --> 00:06:18.510
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: In an African context, a lot of times that's built in it's kind of baked into the bios of the way people think.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And that's partly to do with resource constraints it's also partly to do with the Community structures that exist in a lot of these regions.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: So I find that when I teach my students here in Norway about things like universal design, I have to make really compelling arguments for them to even consider it a relevant topic to.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: relate to to try to understand to embrace, but when I pitched these this work in in Mozambique at the university that I work out there.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: It takes maybe 30 seconds they the students immediately get it and they're iterating on it faster than I can iterate on it so they've been making they make connections almost immediately that my.

00:07:01.500 --> 00:07:09.690
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: mind has not yet been able to approach, so I find so much inspiration so much joy from interacting in working with them.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: and challenges myself to think differently about these issues of accessibility and universal design think radically differently, and I think that's the advantage that's coming out of a lot of these countries.

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Antonio Santos: and countries, countries like Muslim because they came from a long history of civil war.

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Antonio Santos: So that doesn't that that's that kind of also impact within society that in some cases, due to lack of resources also led to a lot of ingenuity from people to try to solve their own problems.

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Antonio Santos: In order to because there was nobody close to support those individuals in order to overcome sometimes.

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Antonio Santos: Things of their daily lives, have you what have you observed in Mozambique, that you for Okay, that we can learn from English to those approaches.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I think it's exactly what you say is this meant it's kind of a bootstrap mentality.

00:08:06.450 --> 00:08:20.640
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: That we have all the tools that we need to solve the the soft tools, the software infrastructure that we need to solve the problems that we have and a lot of that gained by access to the Internet, just as a fundamental kind of.

00:08:21.360 --> 00:08:32.520
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: support, so I think that's the approach that i've seen most often working with entrepreneurs, working with business developers in in, for example, Uganda.

00:08:33.960 --> 00:08:43.560
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: There, they are not willing to compromise on quality issues of quality and there are very aware and vigilant, of the kind of.

00:08:44.220 --> 00:08:57.240
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: stereotypes of prejudice and kind of reputation that Africa has in the international community and they're aware of that kind of very one dimensional narrative that a lot of times come out in the media, when we're talking about any African country.

00:08:57.660 --> 00:09:08.640
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And so they lean in a hard to the opposite of that narrative, which is about we don't need help, we need collaborators.

00:09:09.180 --> 00:09:25.590
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: We don't need people to you know donate We need people to work with us to find ways of solving some of the really intractable challenges that exist and that's not to deny that there are needs it's not to deny that there are really, really, really.

00:09:26.160 --> 00:09:34.170
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: difficult problems that are that exist in these countries it's to say that our way of thinking about how we kind of.

00:09:34.860 --> 00:09:53.880
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Quote unquote fix those problems is is maybe a little bit antiquated and we need to move forward into a direction that's more about innovation, more about grassroots mobilization and finding solutions from that are rooted in the Community and not brought down from on high.

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Antonio Santos: So I would like to introduce here a topic that we often don't talk, but it is about We often talk a lot about technology.

00:10:04.320 --> 00:10:14.190
Antonio Santos: about things that we are discovering today, but sometimes there's an element of low tech things that we have created in the past that sometimes our ignore it.

00:10:14.820 --> 00:10:28.710
Antonio Santos: You know, so all this is something that we can go back in our human history in terms of injury, that we can recover, in order to so so how make our work environments our spaces more.

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Antonio Santos: inclusive.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: yeah I think if I could answer that question, honestly and effectively I would.

00:10:36.930 --> 00:10:43.500
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I would be cashing a check at the Bank, right now, oh I wish I had a answer to that right off the tip of my tongue.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I would say, one of the technologies that's coming out that's being used quite a bit that they they're leaning into a lot of entrepreneurs and in the global South is just basic SMS.

00:10:55.050 --> 00:11:08.670
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: You can do so much with SMS technology and it's kind of accessible by design because it's text based right, so you have a situation where someone who is blind or partially sighted can access that that.

00:11:09.510 --> 00:11:27.690
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Technology on an equal basis with others, nine times out of 10, so I think stuff like that thinking differently about the technologies we've kind of grown used to and grown accustomed to can be a very, very fruitful area of innovation and development, and obviously access.

00:11:28.950 --> 00:11:30.330
Neil Milliken: I, I think that.

00:11:31.530 --> 00:11:40.440
Neil Milliken: SMS I I have heard about the depth of SMS for the last decade or so it's still going strong.

00:11:41.730 --> 00:11:49.950
Neil Milliken: I am will, for a long time to come, and I think it's really is the simplicity of the tool.

00:11:51.690 --> 00:11:53.520
Neil Milliken: is why people still use it.

00:11:55.140 --> 00:12:08.010
Neil Milliken: And I think that we often overcomplicate things just because we can we built industries in the West that require us to update constantly.

00:12:09.870 --> 00:12:19.140
Neil Milliken: Because we've created an expectation that this stuff is innovation and it's not necessarily making stuff better.

00:12:19.530 --> 00:12:24.900
Neil Milliken: Now, when we when we add an additional features to products.

00:12:26.040 --> 00:12:27.180
Neil Milliken: We create craft.

00:12:28.740 --> 00:12:39.030
Neil Milliken: And that that craft is is essentially things that you don't necessarily need or bits of a system that don't really serve you and and.

00:12:40.380 --> 00:12:47.160
Neil Milliken: We see this constantly and to a certain extent, that we you know we built a an economy around creating.

00:12:48.930 --> 00:12:51.450
Neil Milliken: Whereas I think that there's less of that.

00:12:52.680 --> 00:12:56.040
Neil Milliken: In some of the developing nations and.

00:12:57.420 --> 00:13:01.200
Neil Milliken: As a result of that they end up with a better quality of service.

00:13:01.260 --> 00:13:01.470
Neil Milliken: Have.

00:13:01.620 --> 00:13:07.950
Neil Milliken: It may not look polished but then the ability, the ability to reach.

00:13:08.190 --> 00:13:09.780
Neil Milliken: A wide number of people.

00:13:11.430 --> 00:13:28.620
Neil Milliken: The the simplicity of delivery really means that you've got something robust and what I see with when we have this sort of Western cultural imperialism of technology coming in, is like we can solve this with our cloud based solutions.

00:13:29.640 --> 00:13:39.060
Neil Milliken: You know it's all in the cloud or you know when you've got a flaky 3G connection or you're on a being on the cloud is the last thing you want.

00:13:41.010 --> 00:13:45.660
Neil Milliken: And, and even then also we're going to remember that people are.

00:13:46.710 --> 00:13:47.310
Neil Milliken: Paying.

00:13:49.050 --> 00:13:54.330
Neil Milliken: large proportion of their income to get this connectivity so so.

00:13:55.890 --> 00:13:59.100
Neil Milliken: bandwidth hungry video rich.

00:14:00.210 --> 00:14:00.780
Neil Milliken: You know.

00:14:01.860 --> 00:14:03.270
Neil Milliken: applications.

00:14:04.620 --> 00:14:16.260
Neil Milliken: don't serve the needs of the population now that's that's, not to say that there aren't mega cities in Africa with great connectivity and everywhere where everyone's using smartphones but.

00:14:16.260 --> 00:14:18.630
Neil Milliken: it's it's not true for the whole of the continent.

00:14:18.780 --> 00:14:31.110
Neil Milliken: yeah and as a result, there has been a lot more sort of thinking about functional design, I think, then, then somewhere where we can be a little complacent about our infrastructure.

00:14:32.400 --> 00:14:43.110
Neil Milliken: That said, you know i'll complacency about our infrastructure means that stuff gives us a cruddy experience a lot of the time because it's it's not as good as it's made out.

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Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: To me, I mean I wish I could.

00:14:46.560 --> 00:14:53.910
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: could take those words and just drill them into my students ears, because I think every computer science students starts out.

00:14:54.150 --> 00:15:04.320
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: With putting every possible line of code that they can into every application they create because they want to be able to show off all their knowledge and what they can do.

00:15:04.710 --> 00:15:11.280
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And that that mindset of going about it, saying what are the essential functions and features that we need.

00:15:11.640 --> 00:15:21.180
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: and focusing exclusively vigilantly on those functions and features until we have perfected them and we have a solution that meets somebody very narrow need.

00:15:22.080 --> 00:15:31.380
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: That I wish I could just bake that into their mindset and it's also it's also extremely important in innovation and entrepreneurship.

00:15:32.100 --> 00:15:40.140
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I work with so many innovators and entrepreneurs and they start off brainstorming ideas for a solution, and you end up with this very bloated.

00:15:40.500 --> 00:15:50.790
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: kind of oh it's going to do everything and it's the kitchen sink and it's going to you know prep your coffee in the morning and you're saying i'm sitting here thinking, but I don't need nine out of 10 of those.

00:15:51.570 --> 00:16:03.540
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: options, I need the one thing that you're doing well, I need you to double down on that and make that your your key value proposition, so I think it it's it scales kind of from the interface level.

00:16:03.930 --> 00:16:11.490
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: From that like feature and function rich application that you don't need all those features and functions, all the way up to the business model to say.

00:16:11.760 --> 00:16:18.360
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: we're not trying to sell something that fixes everything we're trying to sell something that fixes a real problem, a real need that people have.

00:16:19.080 --> 00:16:28.380
Antonio Santos: I need to tell a story that happened at that one of the hackathons that i've been helping organize so that there were different teams, so this idea of hackathon.

00:16:29.070 --> 00:16:37.620
Antonio Santos: People oh there's a, we need to write code and it developers and we had a two or three situations where.

00:16:38.250 --> 00:16:47.820
Antonio Santos: The developer was asking the other elements of a team So what do you want me to do, because the and he was a little desperate, because the solution.

00:16:48.150 --> 00:16:53.130
Antonio Santos: didn't involve any technology and he was there, looking at the others what should I do.

00:16:53.670 --> 00:17:09.780
Antonio Santos: And and and he was arrested because he had this idea i'm probably the most important person in the team, and certainly he realized that he wasn't yeah so, and so it was quite interesting to see someone came into an Avatar and I think that was a very valuable experience for him.

00:17:11.250 --> 00:17:15.630
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: yeah he probably grew more in that that two minutes, and he had his whole academic career.

00:17:16.260 --> 00:17:26.040
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: The future is low code no code, one of the things we're going to be putting into practice in the next few years is a very large scale training for.

00:17:26.430 --> 00:17:38.460
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Young girls in, and this was the funders original idea was encoding and we immediately said yes coding is important and what we're going to focus on is low code no code.

00:17:39.000 --> 00:17:50.370
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: and build them into coding in that with that direction with that mindset, so that the solutions that they're creating aren't just about creating the code, but actually solving a problem.

00:17:51.660 --> 00:17:57.690
Neil Milliken: yeah and I think that, then the whole idea of citizen developer.

00:17:59.010 --> 00:18:09.480
Neil Milliken: Has has some merit in in that what we're doing is giving people the tools that they need in order to solve problems that are relevant to them, I think that.

00:18:10.620 --> 00:18:16.050
Neil Milliken: I have some concerns about the the low code no code.

00:18:18.060 --> 00:18:25.560
Neil Milliken: what's good what's going on there, because not all of the platforms have really sort of taken accessibility to heart, yet.

00:18:25.590 --> 00:18:26.880
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Some art fair points.

00:18:26.880 --> 00:18:27.690
Neil Milliken: Right, though.

00:18:28.830 --> 00:18:43.800
Neil Milliken: We know that some of the platforms are working on components that are accessible so that that that's really you know good and and that we hope that the rest will will get there, and we encourage the rest to get there, so we you know we.

00:18:45.450 --> 00:18:45.990
Neil Milliken: But.

00:18:47.730 --> 00:18:51.630
Neil Milliken: The danger is it's fine when you're doing it for yourself, but these things have a life of their own.

00:18:51.840 --> 00:19:00.810
Neil Milliken: Absolute, though, so you know if someone invents something nice and it's not accessible, from the beginning, and it goes viral then you're excluding people so.

00:19:01.980 --> 00:19:09.480
Neil Milliken: Whereas with the code, you can teach people the accessibility, with the no code you're relying on components so there's.

00:19:11.160 --> 00:19:20.190
Neil Milliken: The where the responsibility lies to be thinking about how you include people is further back in the in the chain of manufacturer, if you like.

00:19:21.060 --> 00:19:30.150
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: But then that's a new battleground that I don't know that accessibility Community at least that i'm aware of, has taken on as a key priority.

00:19:30.570 --> 00:19:37.320
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Because the no code low codes solutions are cropping up every day there's a new product launch every day there's a new company launched.

00:19:37.710 --> 00:19:46.650
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And if we're not thinking ahead, you know what does this look like in 10 years when maybe no code low code is even more mainstream.

00:19:46.980 --> 00:19:55.860
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Then we're not going to be able to catch these companies at an earlier stage exactly like you're saying before they have launched a big you know viral new product.

00:19:56.880 --> 00:20:11.430
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And then we end up with the same situation that we're at now with everything from you know even back in the 90s was websites that were still still fighting with companies to make their websites accessible staying on the front end of this is going to be.

00:20:12.540 --> 00:20:15.900
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: just going to be a challenge it always is with accessibility yeah.

00:20:17.130 --> 00:20:30.960
Neil Milliken: But but that's it, you know I can still I mean I I use automation solution, I use no code stuff myself and and you can create technologies that are resisted.

00:20:31.470 --> 00:20:39.210
Neil Milliken: yeah so so it's it's not that the glass is half full or half empty, I can see it from both sides i'm.

00:20:40.260 --> 00:20:48.990
Neil Milliken: On this one, because I think there's a great opportunity for creating things that have real utility for individuals that can improve their lives.

00:20:49.320 --> 00:20:49.530
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: At the.

00:20:49.590 --> 00:20:51.120
Neil Milliken: same time we still need to.

00:20:52.200 --> 00:20:52.860
Neil Milliken: address that.

00:20:52.890 --> 00:21:05.430
Neil Milliken: Industry and that's hard when it's a growing industry because we've had that it's the same challenges, every time there is a change in in the industry, because you essentially go through that cycle once again.

00:21:06.810 --> 00:21:17.880
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And there's not been a lot of market consolidation, especially for these solutions that a lot of entrepreneurs are using whether it's you know just basic web application solutions or you know, on up to.

00:21:19.290 --> 00:21:26.310
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I mean I there are even kind of easy fixes and bolt ons for machine learning and stuff like that, and you know.

00:21:27.210 --> 00:21:33.990
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I think we, it would behoove us to stay on trend in these areas as advocates for accessibility.

00:21:34.830 --> 00:21:43.950
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Because if we can tackle the next Google before it becomes a Google then we've created serious impact that can last generations.

00:21:44.910 --> 00:21:55.980
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And you know i'm fighting the fight as much as anybody and I always feel like i'm on the back of my heels trying to catch up with not only the tech development, but the company's.

00:21:56.850 --> 00:22:11.100
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: sensitizing them to the need kind of giving them the tools that they can use to not just put accessibility into practice at a coding level but at a institutional level yeah yeah yeah.

00:22:11.430 --> 00:22:19.650
Neil Milliken: we're currently working on the sort of institutional stuff within my within my own organization and it's complex, you know we're 110,000 people like.

00:22:20.280 --> 00:22:36.750
Neil Milliken: Six industries 16 different practices, you know the the matrix of these large organizations and the variety of what they do, certainly makes it a challenge, but it keeps it interesting right.

00:22:38.910 --> 00:22:39.120
Neil Milliken: But.

00:22:40.590 --> 00:22:43.920
Neil Milliken: At the same time, I think the.

00:22:45.960 --> 00:22:50.220
Neil Milliken: There is something that we can do with.

00:22:51.330 --> 00:22:56.100
Neil Milliken: I said the development that I was interested in was the the Ai.

00:22:58.320 --> 00:23:00.780
Neil Milliken: paired coding assistant in github.

00:23:00.960 --> 00:23:01.710
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Oh yeah.

00:23:02.010 --> 00:23:07.980
Neil Milliken: Right so i'm thinking well that's it that's an intern in a pair coatings of thing right, so you work with with.

00:23:08.610 --> 00:23:27.150
Neil Milliken: Another programmer and you help each other, like iron out the glitches and solve the problems I just wonder whether or not you know there's an opportunity to use these new Ai pair coding assistance to to help inject accessibility, because a lot of it is rules based.

00:23:27.210 --> 00:23:38.520
Neil Milliken: So so so maybe we could we could do something like that that would then you know, take the burden off the again take the burden off the end user, because they.

00:23:38.520 --> 00:23:39.300
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: simply want.

00:23:39.420 --> 00:23:42.030
Neil Milliken: accessibility to be sort of frictionless.

00:23:43.320 --> 00:23:49.440
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I mean i'm optimistic about the opportunities that Ai presents for accessibility solutions.

00:23:50.790 --> 00:24:01.050
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I guess my only trepidation here is looking at the kind of the demographics and the diversity of the folks who are making those solutions.

00:24:01.740 --> 00:24:13.650
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I think this is where we can really create value is by ensuring that the work that we're doing an accessibility doesn't just end with an accessible platform, but actually becomes part of.

00:24:13.860 --> 00:24:19.860
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: training, recruitment hiring you know all the way up to the top levels so that.

00:24:20.340 --> 00:24:30.780
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: The next generation of any tech, but especially Ai is taking it as has the advantage of being developed by a very diverse group of stakeholders who you know.

00:24:31.650 --> 00:24:46.740
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I think there's science that shows will identify at an earlier stage potential problems that the Ai solutions could create and potential of you know value creation benefits that it can create so.

00:24:47.190 --> 00:24:54.840
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: yeah I mean this is just another advocate another person saying that we need more inclusive workplaces and we need more inclusive hiring practices.

00:24:55.020 --> 00:25:01.620
Neil Milliken: yeah We certainly do, and I think we, we were talking with heather dowdy from Microsoft to.

00:25:01.620 --> 00:25:02.520
Neil Milliken: His he.

00:25:03.660 --> 00:25:10.530
Neil Milliken: has been leading the Ai for accessibility program there and we were talking about intrusive data sets as well.

00:25:10.560 --> 00:25:32.850
Neil Milliken: yeah and how few there are, and so, how we might then solve some of those challenges, through through machine learning and things like generative adversarial networks to create new data sets because essentially also just relying on history.

00:25:34.170 --> 00:25:40.800
Neil Milliken: means that we're likely to repeat it and history's been inglorious in terms of.

00:25:41.940 --> 00:25:54.780
Neil Milliken: inclusion and order, the innate prejudices that cropped up, so there are plenty of examples of of why we ought not to be relying on on historical data so.

00:25:56.280 --> 00:25:58.380
Neil Milliken: How, how do, how do we.

00:25:59.520 --> 00:26:05.250
Neil Milliken: Other projects that you're aware of that might be working on this i'm aware of ones that need it's doing.

00:26:06.720 --> 00:26:18.750
Neil Milliken: generating sort of images for facial recognition that can training data sets that are taking so they're taking thousands of images of people of different ethnicities.

00:26:18.990 --> 00:26:22.680
Neil Milliken: And then putting them into the generative adversarial networks to create.

00:26:23.370 --> 00:26:32.070
Neil Milliken: 10s of thousands or millions of images to then train the Ai on other other other other things that you're aware of in this face that that.

00:26:34.530 --> 00:26:41.310
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I get involved in these Ai conversations and I should always put out before I start the conversation that I don't know anything about it.

00:26:42.690 --> 00:26:56.820
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: But I do know the people who are leading the edge when it comes to our ways of thinking, so you probably know her as well as I you to Trevor honors at the Ontario college of Art and Design I just had her on my podcast as a guest.

00:26:58.110 --> 00:27:06.630
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: She is lightyears ahead of any of us when it comes to how we think not only about the data sets but that about the whole process and the.

00:27:06.960 --> 00:27:17.370
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: ill effects that can come out of not recognizing the diversity of the human experience, so I would just my my response here is going to be check out you to she's amazing.

00:27:17.970 --> 00:27:23.160
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: The other group that I think is doing a lot of a lot of interesting work is.

00:27:24.090 --> 00:27:31.320
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: The research institutes and there's a lot of them around the world, but there's one here in Oslo my university that's working on explainable Ai.

00:27:31.830 --> 00:27:39.210
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: So that it's not this black box effect where we put a lot of data and we get some cool stuff out, but then we don't really know what's happening in the middle.

00:27:39.480 --> 00:27:46.260
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: But actually being able to pick apart and and and then understand a little bit more critically what those what those.

00:27:47.190 --> 00:27:58.500
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: With that performance is for his life, so I think those are the two places I would kind of direct people and to try to better understand these issues, but they're super complex.

00:28:00.000 --> 00:28:07.260
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Oh The other thing I wanted to point out here, because this is a new a good way of thinking that I actually learned from talk of all places, is a.

00:28:09.690 --> 00:28:12.300
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Our mindsets are always going to be bound and tie.

00:28:12.570 --> 00:28:27.000
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Right, so what you said about Okay, we can't use historical data, because in you know you go back not too long ago, and there are many large groups of people who weren't even considered human so, even if we were to say we're going to take a human population data around that.

00:28:27.330 --> 00:28:31.170
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Looking at it, historically, you know you're not going to be tackling a lot of groups of people.

00:28:31.440 --> 00:28:46.260
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: So we're always going to be bound in time we always have to think of it in that way, and so what our thinking is now will always be more closed minded more prejudicial than it will be in 10 2030 years, and this is just to take the words of.

00:28:47.400 --> 00:28:50.580
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: person more famous than I am the name is going to escape me now but.

00:28:51.090 --> 00:28:57.510
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: i'll paraphrase as well the moral arc of the universe that as long as long but it points towards justice, I think it was Nelson Mandela said that.

00:28:57.870 --> 00:29:02.970
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: So we think about how our evolution as a social as a society.

00:29:03.510 --> 00:29:13.200
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: will continue to progress, we will hopefully be cricketing doing progress towards justice, and in doing so it's going to be about recognizing you even greater diversity of human ness.

00:29:13.650 --> 00:29:17.790
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And it's it's already we already know this in the disability rights community, I mean the.

00:29:18.060 --> 00:29:27.720
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines disability as an evolving concept what we understand a disability today is not what it was 10 2030 years ago.

00:29:27.990 --> 00:29:48.900
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Even just people on the autism spectrum that concept was not available to us as a mental model in even in 90s early 70s 60s, I mean it just wasn't the same way of thinking, so we have to update how we think we have to update how we talk, because at any given time, we will always be more.

00:29:49.950 --> 00:29:54.450
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: More closed minded more closed off, then we will be in years to come.

00:29:56.700 --> 00:30:00.870
Neil Milliken: See you just mentioned models and models of disabilities, something that.

00:30:02.130 --> 00:30:10.620
Neil Milliken: comes up a lot, and we, there has been a tendency to you know follow a medical model for a long time.

00:30:12.360 --> 00:30:16.140
Neil Milliken: Scandinavia UK much more social model base.

00:30:18.120 --> 00:30:20.010
Neil Milliken: Both have issues.

00:30:22.470 --> 00:30:39.870
Neil Milliken: I recently sort of came across another one, which was like a bio ability model which which recognizes that sometimes you're disabled and sometimes you're not and it was kind of interesting to sort of see those and and then that gets into the whole sort of concept of identity and.

00:30:39.870 --> 00:30:42.900
Neil Milliken: How do you identify when you're when you sometimes consider yourself.

00:30:43.380 --> 00:30:56.880
Neil Milliken: disabled and sometimes you consider yourself not and and I can relate, because, as someone with sort of neurodegenerative conditions to disable it, so I certainly don't look at other times it's really.

00:30:57.960 --> 00:30:58.980
Neil Milliken: debilitating.

00:30:59.070 --> 00:31:00.540
Neil Milliken: You get into certain situations you.

00:31:01.710 --> 00:31:05.520
Neil Milliken: fail to do things that people find perfectly easy so.

00:31:07.620 --> 00:31:13.200
Neil Milliken: So yeah I think these models are going to evolve to, and that will change our understanding of stuff.

00:31:14.490 --> 00:31:23.850
Neil Milliken: But and I guess at some of that it's going to relate and impact on legislation and regulation and how how we do things to.

00:31:24.810 --> 00:31:25.440
Neil Milliken: I think that.

00:31:25.830 --> 00:31:41.610
Neil Milliken: Hopefully, though, you know coming full circle back to where we started that sort of design and for all approach the inclusive design approach will remain and and essentially that what we will end up with is.

00:31:42.660 --> 00:31:58.020
Neil Milliken: ways of doing business of building, technology that understand that there is diversity and people and and that we enter interact with things in different ways, the cultures have different nuances in how they interact with things even.

00:32:00.030 --> 00:32:07.050
Neil Milliken: And that that through process of consultation and consideration that we can.

00:32:08.130 --> 00:32:17.160
Neil Milliken: Design better tech better systems, hopefully, better, more inclusive societies as well, so, aside from technology.

00:32:18.180 --> 00:32:30.720
Neil Milliken: And, aside from design order the other things that do you get involved in in terms of how you can influence the world of inclusion.

00:32:31.320 --> 00:32:43.440
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: yeah so my I guess you could say my career trajectory has really been focused on bringing the principles of accessibility and universal design into radically different spheres.

00:32:44.370 --> 00:32:51.990
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: As radically, as I can get really, and so one of the first kind of bridges I started to connect was with.

00:32:52.500 --> 00:33:07.200
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: The kind of theoretical, as well as practical approaches to innovation so looking at not just be taking tech and retrofitting it or even just designing tech in a way that's accessible, but really conceiving of.

00:33:08.070 --> 00:33:20.880
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: problems and solutions, using a universal design and accessibility mindset, so that way as you continue down that journey as an innovator, and an entrepreneur all of the work that you're going to be producing is going to have those value systems embedded in it.

00:33:21.360 --> 00:33:33.510
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And this comes from like broader sociological theories about the relationship between technology and society and all that but that's not that's neither here nor there, though important point here is taking the the value systems that we share.

00:33:34.710 --> 00:33:40.620
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: that's all wrapped up in human rights, but also in technology and design and using that to seed.

00:33:41.670 --> 00:33:52.830
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: The same sort of kind of concentrated ethics in other areas and innovation is one entrepreneurship is another another area that i've been working in.

00:33:53.250 --> 00:33:58.170
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: As I already mentioned in Mozambique and Uganda is international development, so the international development space.

00:33:58.530 --> 00:34:08.010
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: has largely ignored issues around disability rights, there are some pockets, where disability rights as a key consideration, but you know if I could be super critical here.

00:34:08.730 --> 00:34:14.940
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: You know whether its funding that's going to international development programs or it's the implementation of those programs.

00:34:15.720 --> 00:34:23.220
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: you'd be hard pressed to find something that is it truly inclusive, even if they are inclusive by name.

00:34:23.790 --> 00:34:39.780
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And that's because people disabilities often get left off of that list of we're going to help all of these groups of people oh yeah and then we also need to think about accessibility and disability related issues, so I I i've been trying to make sure that the that work has been.

00:34:40.860 --> 00:34:49.440
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Connected a little bit more closely, so that when we're going about entering any international development process or again baking in accessibility universal design at the outset.

00:34:49.950 --> 00:34:58.680
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And another great person who's working in this field, who is doing his PhD in Portugal, I think at the University of Lisbon is a man named George monique.

00:34:58.980 --> 00:35:07.920
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And it's ma n H IQ you E, so you can Google him find him, he is a genius when it comes to this issue of international development and accessibility.

00:35:08.790 --> 00:35:15.690
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Building it into funding models building it into practical implementation models he's been working in the space for his whole life.

00:35:16.680 --> 00:35:26.760
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: So he is far greater expert than I am to speak about it but i've kind of taken on his mindset and tried to make sure that the work that i'm doing in the.

00:35:27.420 --> 00:35:42.930
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Global south is really anchored in the same human rights accessibility universal design technology principles and practices so that as we're doing more work out in the world it's reaching more people.

00:35:43.920 --> 00:35:53.580
Antonio Santos: So Anthony of following that so I presume that over the last couple of you have done a lot of ideation a lot of that type of work so.

00:35:54.210 --> 00:35:59.940
Antonio Santos: How can we make sure that variable to listen to everyone, I we can establish that environment.

00:36:00.510 --> 00:36:09.510
Antonio Santos: That you know that when you are in Houston back you're able to create a space where people you don't you're not just talking with the experts, but we're talking with the individual that we're going to serve.

00:36:10.020 --> 00:36:19.170
Antonio Santos: Now, and now that we are all online, we also the issue is even more difficult because we have to connect the story, how can we make sure that we actually.

00:36:20.370 --> 00:36:28.530
Antonio Santos: provide the space where we can have that listening opportunity to make sure that we don't end up just talking between ourselves yeah.

00:36:28.950 --> 00:36:36.720
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I mean that's kind of the million dollar question is, and when I talk to my students about these issues, one of their first kind of.

00:36:37.200 --> 00:36:46.770
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: pushback is, how can I possibly work with the full diversity of the human spectrum in my design and my creation of my new technologies and.

00:36:47.040 --> 00:37:03.900
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: there's not a lot of good salute there's not a lot of good ways of thinking, I mean we have things like the Wick egg standards which fix some things for some people, some of the time, but we don't really have a solution in any way, shape or form that fits with the universal design mindset.

00:37:04.920 --> 00:37:14.040
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: We don't have solutions that deal with intersection ality, for example, so like we can kind of figure out how we can work things for some people with disability, some of the time.

00:37:14.430 --> 00:37:22.020
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: But we don't know anything about what it is to experience a barrier accessing you're using technology for a woman with a disability.

00:37:22.440 --> 00:37:32.130
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: An older woman with a disability older woman who lives in a rural area with a disability older transgender woman who lives in a rural area with a disability, I mean when you start stalking.

00:37:32.400 --> 00:37:42.960
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: These identities marginalized identities on one another, our ability, I think, just cognitively but certainly scientifically it just falls flat.

00:37:43.590 --> 00:37:50.130
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Because we're so used to for so long, putting people into boxes you're a person with a disability, so we know what to do for you.

00:37:50.580 --> 00:37:54.630
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: you're a woman, so we know what to do for you, your racial ethnic minority, so you know what to do, but.

00:37:54.870 --> 00:38:02.970
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: we've just now gotten to a point, thanks to Kim crenshaw the genius behind intersection ality we're just now getting to the point where we can even acknowledge.

00:38:03.330 --> 00:38:12.720
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: That these identities can coexist, and that the challenges barriers discrimination that these individuals experience are exponentially greater than if it's just one identity alone.

00:38:13.350 --> 00:38:23.160
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And so we don't know what it's like to develop technology for people who have intersection of identities, people who hold intersection of identity, but I think that's in that in becomes the solution.

00:38:23.640 --> 00:38:28.740
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Is we find ways of working with collaborating with people who have multiple marginalized identities.

00:38:29.100 --> 00:38:38.340
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: and in doing so, this is one of the core value systems of universal design make it work for the most marginalized group the most extreme users and it will work better for everybody.

00:38:38.940 --> 00:38:52.500
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: So I think it's about tapping into those communities working in collaboration with those communities letting them lead and drive the process questioning all of our assumptions and biases that we bring to the table whenever we're trying to do this sort of work.

00:38:53.940 --> 00:39:03.420
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: it's and it's again an evolving issue that will never be able to nail down and this frustrates my students, more than anything is because they always want.

00:39:03.960 --> 00:39:17.370
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Give me the answer what's the answer what's gonna be the answer on the test what's the answer to this problem there's no answer, we have to stay vigilant, we have to learn, we have to empathize and find ways of bringing everybody into the to belong.

00:39:17.700 --> 00:39:29.310
Antonio Santos: And like one of my university teachers told me, you know now that you finish a lot of free to go to the world and learn and for the by yourself that's why you are here.

00:39:29.790 --> 00:39:37.860
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Yes, yes, and maybe that's an area that I think we could really do well to consider in the universal design space so we've been trying a lot.

00:39:38.100 --> 00:39:50.340
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: To bring universal design into hard skills acquired hard skills like coding right but we haven't I think done enough to start thinking about how we can integrate a universal design mindset into Meta skills.

00:39:50.880 --> 00:40:00.930
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And the power skills, so what is a universal design leader look like what is a universal design creative thinker look like what does a universal design critical thinker look like.

00:40:01.320 --> 00:40:10.920
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: I think that what does it mean to be able to learn how to learn about an issue like universal design I think that's a really compelling way of.

00:40:11.820 --> 00:40:25.230
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Bridging this gap between a topic that has historically been very anchored in practical reality and start bringing into more mindset and more ways of thinking.

00:40:25.770 --> 00:40:34.830
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: Rather than only focusing on ways of doing I always tell, I get the pushback that i'm sure everyone has ever always for an accessibility space it's going to cost too much money.

00:40:35.250 --> 00:40:39.510
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: And I always push back, and I say you know what it costs you nothing to change your mind.

00:40:40.470 --> 00:40:49.050
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: change your mind about this issue and it's absolutely free and you will figure it out along the way, you will innovate new ways of working, you will innovate new ways of doing this.

00:40:49.680 --> 00:40:56.820
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: But as long as you have that mental block up you're never it is going to cost too much because you're not going to be working in that mindset.

00:40:57.870 --> 00:41:00.780
Neil Milliken: yeah I think that sometimes.

00:41:01.920 --> 00:41:08.610
Neil Milliken: Fixing it after the fact, costs a lot of money and so people get said that it's not that expensive.

00:41:09.840 --> 00:41:12.270
Neil Milliken: include people from the beginning, so.

00:41:14.130 --> 00:41:20.430
Neil Milliken: That that mindset changes really important, so thank you we've we've pretty much hit the buttons.

00:41:21.450 --> 00:41:27.870
Neil Milliken: Not not in terms of the conversation, but in terms of time, so it's been a real pleasure.

00:41:28.500 --> 00:41:39.930
Neil Milliken: We need to also think about Facebook says my clear text and my acronym for keeping us on air and keeping us going and also you know acknowledge Deborah that who's not here today because she's.

00:41:40.440 --> 00:41:49.770
Neil Milliken: she's taking some time out but she'll be with us on Tuesday so look forward to join us, then, for Q amp a on Twitter.

00:41:50.310 --> 00:41:57.390
Dr. Anthony Giannoumis: i'm super excited and i'm so grateful again and Deborah is one of my personal superheroes so I can't wait to have a chat with her on Tuesday.