- The Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette has a nice story about the new Quality of Life Technology Center shared between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.
- A group of researchers from JHU, CCNY, Northwestern and the University of Maryland-College Park are working on a surface to facilitate a tactile interface for users with vision impairment.
- Science Daily reports on an IBM project to develop a system that can be manipulated by thought (honest).
- And of course, production has begun on the OLPC device (XO), which has also been a topic recently on the SIGCSE listserv.
I am not an economist, so I am not going to comment on the relative merits of such competition. But as a teacher, I think the discussion itself has merit in computing education, especially when we read about the anticipated high demand for computer science people (or "High-demand employment requires high-caliber education") and the benefits such access can provide to all, including those in developing countries (yes, there are consequences too, which is why the discussion is non-trivial).
And clearly accessibility is not limited to those with mobility, vision or hearing issues either. I would be happy to be involved with a SIGCSE conference that facilitated discussion(s) on access around the world, the issues that arise across cultures and political systems, legality, social impact -- hey, I work at a liberal arts college, and I believe computing has much to offer these discussions.
Still, the resources (time, space, energy, pages) at a SIGCSE conference are limited, no matter how many "threads of discussion" are processing. I look forward to learning about initiatives to provide low-cost computing around the globe, and SIGCSE 2008 can be one of the places where I learn more about this topic.