The Future of Accessibility Powered by AI

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Join us for a talk about artificial intelligence for accessibility with Heather Dowdy on Thursday, July 18th, at RedShelf!

There is a unique opportunity for AI to revolutionize how we think about assistive technology and access to technology for people with disabilities. Learn about the Microsoft AI for Accessibility grant program, Azure cloud technology and the ethical considerations around AI and disability.

This topic is best suited for developers, designers, and anyone interested in artificial intelligence. If you have a side project or an idea for accessibility you'd like to pursue, this is a great opportunity to learn how you can apply for funding!


- 5:30 p.m.: Doors open
- 6:15 p.m.: Housekeeping announcements
- 6:30-7:30 p.m.: Presentation / Q&A
- 7:30 p.m.: Socializing begins
- 8:00 p.m.: Socializing / Event ends

About the Speaker

Heather Dowdy is the COO of the Microsoft AI for Accessibility grant program. She leads strategy and business operations to scale the impact of the growing number of AI for Accessibility grantees. With more than a decade of experience developing and demonstrating accessible technology in mobile, web and artificial intelligence, Heather is passionate about using the design thinking process to create solutions that improve usability for everyone.

As the oldest daughter of Deaf parents, Heather is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). Before relocating to Redmond, she was the Senior Product Manager of Accessibility Engineering at Motorola Mobility in Chicago. Heather has served as Chair of the Accessibility Working Group (AWG) of the Mobile Manufacturers’ Forum (MMF) and Chair of the Board of Directors of the World Institute on Disability. A strong believer in empowering communities through education and benevolence, she is the co-founder of Microsoft Ninja Camp, focused on STEM leadership training for high school students with disabilities. Heather obtained her Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A native Chicagoan, she can now be found exploring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three young children. Heather also enjoys reading, journaling, and interacting with different cultures while traveling abroad.

This event will be live-streamed and captioned --
Live stream:
Live captions:

About the Venue Sponsor

RedShelf ( is a leading supplier of digital learning materials providing technology to the learning community to accelerate the transition to digital. They are located on the northwest corner of Dearborn and Illinois.

RedShelf will be providing dinner and drinks. We are working on dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.

-Has elevators. The office is located on the 12th floor and the event space is located on the second floor of the office, accessible by elevator or stairs.
-Has ADA and all-gender restrooms.

An Accessible Experience

If you need accommodation for this event, please contact us ASAP, so we can ensure we can accommodate you.

We’ll update this event page to note any new details and accessibility info.