AccessU 2020 Keynote Speaker Spotlight: Jamie Knight *

John Slatin AccessU 2020 will run for two weeks from May 13th–20th. Like many of this year’s conferences, AccessU is also moving online. Along with our four tracks scheduled for the second week, we’ll have two lunchtime keynotes by leading experts in accessibility and disability advocacy. Jamie Knight, a senior research engineer with the BBC, will give the first keynote on May 19.

Jamie Knight, wearing earmuffs, holding Lion

As a research engineer, Jamie works on the accessibility of internal tools and organizes usability testing. He also works with teams across the company via the BBC’s Champions Network, which aims to introduce accessibility throughout the organization. From investigating how to make virtual reality (VR) accessible to resolving an issue with a screen reader, he has a wide range of responsibilities.

“No day is quite the same,” Jamie said via email. “I may be working with deaf participants to explore VR tooling one day and supporting a champion with a tricky JAWS issue the next day.”

Jamie’s keynote will center on accessibility barriers in VR and explore ways to make this medium more inclusive.

“Over the last two years we’ve worked with over 100 participants to map where the barriers are and how they are interrelated,” he said. “I’ll be talking about what we have learnt and some of the cool experiments we have run along the way.”

Jamie, who is autistic, lives in London. In his free time, he designs Lego gearboxes and builds model cars and mountain bikes. Accessibility tools he uses include screen magnification to reduce screen clutter, VoiceOver to understand better large amounts of text, and Proloquo4Text, an augmentative communication app, when he cannot speak.

He’s never far from his plush lion who, by coincidence, is named Lion. At a talk in 2018, he explained Lion’s importance in his life.

“He’s a big fluffy toy that goes everywhere with me and has done for a very long time,” Jamie said. “He’s reliable. He’s never let me down. He smells kind of specific. It’s a comfort object. He helps ease anxiety, but he’s also a great conversation starter.”

Check out the full talk “Cognitive Accessibility” delivered at Accessibility London in 2018.

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