Who We Are: The People and Organizations that Make Up the RtF Initiative

Who we are - Diverse participation

Raising the Floor brings together like-minded people from many different disciplines and backgrounds who share this goal under whatever label. This includes people from software development, academia, industry (mainstream and Assistive Technology), consumers, non-governmental organizations, governments and activists.

RtF is a meritocracy that allows anyone to learn, increase their skills, and rise to the top of the areas they work in. Just one of the benefits of RtF is that it allows new participants, particularly those who are also users of RtF technologies, to develop their skills and opportunities while advancing RtF.

The strength of RtF is the calibre of the people and programs that make up the RtF initiative and their common objective of ensuring access to the Web for all.

The Co-Directors

Photo of Gregg Vanderheiden

Gregg Vanderheiden is a professor of Industrial and Biomedical Engineering, and founder and director of Trace R&D Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has worked in technology and disability for more than 39 years and currently directs the NIDRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Universal Interfaces and Information Technology Access, and co-directs the RERC on Telecommunications Access (joint with Gallaudet University).
Gregg pioneered in the field of Augmentative Communication (a name taken from his writings), working with people having physical, visual, hearing and cognitive disabilities. His work with the computer industry led to many of the access features that are standard today. For example, READ MORE

Photo of Jutta Treviranus

Jutta Treviranus is the Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) and professor at OCAD University in Toronto, formerly the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre. The IDRC conducts proactive research and development in the inclusive design of emerging information and communication technology and practices. Jutta also heads the Inclusive Design Institute a multi-university regional centre of expertise on inclusive design. Jutta has led many international multi-partner research networks that have created broadly implemented technical innovations that support inclusion. These include the Fluid Project, Fluid Engage, CulturAll, Stretch, FLOE and many others. Jutta and her team READMORE


Patrick Roe received a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1986 from the ‘Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL)’. He went on to be employed at the EPFL in the Electromagnetics and Acoustics Laboratory (LEMA) where he has worked as a senior researcher on several European projects in the areas of acoustics, active noise control and accessibility to ICT systems and services for people with disabilities. His latest project was the Coordination Action in R&D in Accessible and Assistive ICT (CARDIAC), of which he was the coordinator.
Before this he was the Swiss representative of the three COST219 Actions, which ran over 20 years (1986-2008), ending up as Chairman of the COST 219ter Action “Accessibility for All to Services and Terminals for Next Generation Networks”. Within the framework of this Action, he has been the main editor of several publications and books, the most recent of which is entitled “Towards an inclusive future – Impact and wider potential of information and communication technologies”. He is a Member of the AES (Audio Engineering Society) and is currently the Chairman of the Swiss Exam Committee for the Federal Sound Technician exams.
You may reach Patrick at Patrick@raisingthefloor.org.

Executive Director

Eva de Lera is the Executive Director for Raising the Floor - International and the Program Manager for its European efforts toward building a Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII). She provides strategic leadership and direction, and oversees its programs and the operation of the Association.

Previously, Eva was the Senior Strategist for the Office of Learning Technologies at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), the first virtual university, founded in 1994. In her role, Eva worked with the UOC's leadership to help create new opportunities and innovative educational technology projects and programs. She introduced User Experience at UOC, helping lead the transformation of the design and development teams, as well as integrating accessibility technologies into all developments, as a way to improve engagement beyond people with disabilities (MyWay project).

Eva received her BA in Psychology from New York University, a M.A. in Information Society from UOC and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV). Her background is in art and creativity, technology, marketing communications and online education, and as such she's worked as a consultant, strategist and advisor for different companies and organizations. You may reach Eva at Eva@raisingthefloor.org.


Technological Advisory Board 

To help guide the organization technically especially around building the system to work in the new technical world that is emerging and to ensure security and scalability, a number of technology leaders have agreed to serve on our Technological Advisory Board. 

Brian Behlendorf Brian Behlendorf

A primary developer of the Apache Web server, Mozilla Foundation Board Member and Chief Technical Officer for World Economic Forum. READ MORE

David Boloker David Boloker

Chief Technical Officer for Emerging Internet Technologies in IBM Software Group. READ MORE

Vint Cerf Vint Cerf

Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google and one of the fathers of the Internet. READ MORE 

Bill Coleman Bill Coleman

Partner at Alsop Louie Partners, founder and CEO of several IT firms, former VP at SUN, and the benefactor for the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities. READ MORE

Dale Hatifled Dale Hatfield

Silicon Flatirons and former Chief Technologist for the US Federal Communications Commission. READ MORE

 RtF Board of Advisors

The initial members of our Board of Advisors include:

Saulo Barretto Saulo Barretto

BRAZIL The Human Project

Evangelos Bekiaris Evangelos Bekiaris Ph.D.

GREECE The Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH)

Judy Brewer Judy Brewer

US World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) - Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

Pier Luigi Emiliani Pier Luigi Emiliani

ITALY Former Director of Institute of Applied Physics, National Research Council

Jim Fruchterman Jim Fruchterman

US CEO Benetech

Abdul Waheed Khan Abdul Waheed Khan Ph.D

Former UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information

Hiroshi Kawamura Hiroshi Kawamura

JAPAN DAISY Consortium

Peter Korn Peter Korn


Axel Leblois Axel Leblois


Clayton Lewis Clayton Lewis Ph.D.

US Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities

José Angel Martinez José Angel Martinez

SPAIN Technosite ONCE

Mark McCusker Mark McCusker


Sang-Mook Lee Sang-Mook Lee Ph.D.

KOREA Seoul National University

Catherine Ngugi Catherine Ngugi


Rich Schwerdtfeger Rich Schwerdtfeger D.E.

US IBM - Lead Accessibility Architect 

Early Participants

Raising the Floor needs, and has attracted, a wide range of different people and organizations from across the spectrum. Participants include consumers, developers, researchers, practitioners, policy people, vendors and manufactures large and small, mainstream and assistive technology. They are located across the globe on every continent except Antarctica. 

Some of the early participants and supporters of the Raising the Floor effort include:

NOTE: Since this list was compiled by combining lists we are sure there are errors. If you spot an error please let us know by sending an email to info@raisingthefloor.org and put [Participation] in the subject line. If you are interested in joining in see Get Involved.

Name Affiliation
Jan Alexandersson DFKI
Aries Arditi Lighthouse International
Chieko Asakawa IBM Research
Jeff Bigham University of Rochester
Alan W. Black Carnegie Mellon Univ., Language Technologies Institute
Cathy Bodine U of Colorado, Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities
David Boloker IBM, CTO - Emerging Technology Group
Yevgen Borodin Charmtech Labs LLC
Judy Brewer WAI W3C
Paul Budde BuddeComm
Sheryl Burgstahler Univ. of Washington
Ben Caldwell Trace Center University of Wisconsin - Madison
Kevin Carey RNIB UK Humanity
Vint Cerf Google
Charles Chen Google  - Fire Vox
Wendy Chisholm Consultant
Curtis Chong NFB
Bill Coleman Alsop Louie Partners
Frank DeRuyter Duke University AAC RERC
Roberto Ellero International Webmasters Association / HTML Writers Guild
Pier Luigi Emiliani Director Institute of Applied Physics, NRC, Italy
Neal Ewers Ravenswood Productions
Lainey Feingold Law Office of Lainey Feingold
Jim Fruchterman Benetech
Krzysztof Gajos Harvard University
Larry Goldberg WGBH
Elena Gómez Technosite
Jon Gunderson University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
Vicki Hanson IBM and Univ. of Dundee
Dale Hatfield Silicon Flat Irons
Katie Haritos-Shea Consultant
Chris Hofstader Consultant
Steve Jacobs Ideal
Simon Judge OATSoft
Hiroshi Kawamura DAISY Consortium
Maureen Kaine-Krolak Consultant
George Kerscher Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic
Matt King IBM
Peter Korn Oracle & AEGIS
Richard Ladner Univ. of Washington
Axel Leblois G3ICT The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs
Seongil Lee Sungkyunkwan University – Korea
Steve Lee OATSoft
Clayton Lewis U of Colorado, Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities
Larry L. Lewis Jr. Flying Blind
Mats Lundälv DART, AEGIS, OATSoft and Conceptcoding.org
Jamal Mazrui FCC
Joseph McNulty Helen Keller National Center
Martin McKay TextHelp
Olivier Nzepa University of Yaounde - Cameroon
Mari Ostendorf Univ. of Washington
Ed Price Georgia Tech
Whitney Quesenbery Whitney Interactive Design, LLC
TV Raman Google
P.L. Patrick Rau Inst of Human Factors & Ergo. , Dept of Indust. Engr. Tsinghua University, China
Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo Fundación Sidar
Brad Ruderman Accenture
Martin Sabry aIdeas
Janina Sajka Consultant
Roberto Scano International Webmasters Association / HTML Writers Guild
Richard Schwerdtfeger IBM
Andrew Sears UMBC
Lisa Seeman   Athena ICT
Jo Ann Simons   Cardinal Cushing Centers
Ragnar H. Simonsen Center for Assisitive Technology (SIKTE),Norway
Rob Sinclair Microsoft
Hironobu Takagi IBM Research
Jim Tobias Inclusive Technologies
Jutta Treviranus U of Toronto Adaptive Technology Resource Centre
Gianna Tsakou Singular Logic
Dimitrios Tzovaras Informatics and Telematics Institute - CERTH, Greece
José Ángel Martínez Usero INREDIS Project
Gregg Vanderheiden Trace Center University of Wisconsin - Madison
Karel Van Isacker PhoenixKM BVBA
Konstantinos Votis Informatics and Telematics Institute - CERTH, Greece
Will Walker Oracle
Jerry Weisman Assistive Technology Solutions
Norman Williams Gallaudet University
Denise Wood University of South Australia
Shigeru Yamauchi Assistive Technology Development Organization
Jerry Zhu UW Madison Computer Science (text to picture)
Gottfried Zimmermann Media University Stuttgart


Raising the Floor is currently funded directly by the the following sponsors

  • National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) , US Dept of Education under grant #H133E080022.
  • Adobe Foundation - through a generous gift to support the initiation and organization of Raising the Floor and its teams.

In addition, RtF is funded indirectly through the support of its many participants.  Indirect funding for RtF efforts by its participants includes the following:

  • National Science Foundation - Support for several partner projects, including the University of Washington's WebAnywhere project, the University of Wisconsin's Text-to-Picture Synthesis project, and many others.
  • United Nations - Support for the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICT (G3ICT). 
  • Mozilla Foundation - Joint funding with Benetech to build a DAISY eBook reader for use with the Firefox web browser, support for the Fire Vox and Bookshare projects.
  • Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education - Support for the Bookshare for Education project.
  • Skoll Foundation and Omidyar Network General support of Benetech.

If your work contributes to RtF and your funding agency is not named here, please let us know by sending an email to contribution@RaisingTheFloor.net with [Participation] in the subject line.