DO-IT's Quick Trip to the UK

Dan Comden, DO-IT Staff

The week of February 1-7 was a hectic one. Flying to the UK for a conference at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) for a one-day conference means at least three days in travel time total, plus a day or two to deal with jet lag on the other end—this is an eight-hour time change. And, because my colleague at the University of Sussex, Mrs. EA Draffan, is planning extra activities, I didn't exactly know the schedule until I arrived. Here's what happened:

Saturday: Leave Seattle. Travel overnight to England. Fortunately this is not the optimal time for tourism to sunny England so the flight is fairly empty, making it easy for me to polish my upcoming presentations.

Sunday: Arrive early morning Gatwick Airport. Begin to assimilate time change. Realize that I've caught a cold on the flight.

Monday: Travel to Taunton in Southwest England to meet with members of a Regional Support Center involved in a pilot project to provide technical support to Specialist Colleges (e.g., schools for the blind or deaf) in order to bring them up to par with Internet access and other education technology. Topics for training and concerns about areas of support and responsibility are discussed. On the trip back to Sussex, stop in Weymouth to briefly meet with the programmer for the TechDis Accessibility Database .

Tuesday: Travel to University of Sussex to meet with a company representative who is demonstrating a new portable keyboard/organizer that is an extension of the AlphaSmart™ keyboard. Combined with the Palm OS™, it's an intriguing product but lacks some usability features such as enlargeable fonts and adequate backlighting. The threat of snow has us leaving early for the long drive to Manchester.

Wednesday: UCISA-SG conference is for Information Systems (IS) personnel involved with higher education who are interested in learning more about technology and disabilities. I provide an overview of assistive technology (AT) with EA as well as an introduction to Accessible Web design with Lawrie Phipps of TechDis. About 100 attendees are provided with descriptions and demonstrations of AT and also view an AT overview video produced by DO-IT. The evening is spent with friends in Cheshire, west of Manchester.

Thursday: An early departure for York University's TechDis office to co-present a full day training session for 16 Disability Officers and Web designers from various colleges and universities who are learning more about specific AT solutions and Web accessibility testing techniques. Afterwards, a long drive back to Sussex.

Friday: Up in time for a last meeting about plans for CSUN conference next month; then a trip to the airport for the flight home. During the long flight, take the time to reflect on the week's frantic schedule and promise myself that next time I won't try to do two weeks' worth of work in four days!