Accessibility and usability consultant, Feel The BenefIT
Gerry Ellis is blind, and is an accessibility and usability consultant under the name Feel The BenefIT. He has worked for more than 35 years as a software engineer and mainframe technical specialist at Bank of Ireland, and is a fellow of the Irish Computer Society. He is former chair of the Irish Council for People with Disabilities, and was a founding member and first chair of the Visually Impaired Computer Society and the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability.
Gerry has represented the interests of people with disabilities for Comreg and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland user groups, the RTÉ Audience Council, and he was a director of the Southside Partnership. He is the vice-chair of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Joint Coordinating Activity on Accessibility and Human Factors. ITU is the UN’s specialised body for information and communication technology, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
Gerry was a guest lecturer for the MA course in accessibility to media, arts and culture in the University of Macerata, Italy; and a guest author of a chapter for a book on accessibility of audio description, which was coordinated by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. The chapter challenges the concept of normality in society in relation to impairment and disability.
He is a member of the European Disability Forum’s ICT Expert Group, which represents the interests of 80m people with disabilities in Europe from Brussels. He has spoken at conferences in more than 30 countries on five continents on accessibility-related issues, including meeting the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Gerry was part of the group that produced a CEN Agreement on a curriculum for training ICT professionals in universal design; and was involved in the International Standards Organisation JTAG group that reviewed and updated the ISO/IEC Guide 71 and CEN-CENELEC Guide 6. The document advises standards bodies and standards developers on how to include the needs of people with disabilities and older people when developing standards.