Inclusive Workforce

#ShiverStrong: Remembering Brent Shiver

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It is with great sadness that we at IBM mark the passing of our colleague Dr. Brent Shiver. Brent joined the IBM Accessibility team in 2014 right after completing a PhD in Computer Science from DePaul University. 

Creator and inventor

 A talented developer, he worked on a wide range of projects, from a mobile app for requesting job accommodations to our automated accessibility test tools. Brent was also active in research, exploring ways to make automated captions more comprehensible, and publishing his work at international conferences like the ASSETS Conference on Computers and Accessibility [1,2,3]. His perspective as a Deaf person was an essential part of his impact: “Because of my deafness, I see the world differently from my colleagues and can make technical and innovative contributions from angles not usually considered.” Brent’s many patent inventions covered a broad range of topics from applying technology to directing service animals [4] to tailoring search results [5]. He never let a good idea fall by the wayside.

Brent signing to an ASSETS 2018 attendee at the presentation of his poster 'Leveraging pauses to improve video captions'
Brent presenting his research at the ASSETS 2018 poster session.

Advocate with humor

Of all his many professional contributions, perhaps the most important was his advocacy for the Deaf and hard of hearing community, both within IBM and more broadly. 

“I am accustomed to a world without sound. Many call it silence, but from my perspective, I’m here to make as much noise as possible – at work and in my personal life.” 

Brent Shiver

Brent was adept at using technology to overcome barriers, whether typing into a laptop to converse with a blind colleague during an informal gathering, or sharing a mobile speech recognition app to chat while traveling without access to sign language interpreters. He was truly inclusive, recognizing that different individuals’ communication choices may differ, but are all equally important.  At all times, his strong sense of humor shone through. In meetings where audio problems interrupted the conversation, a person asking “Can everyone hear me now?” might find the interpreter translating Brent’s instant response of: “No, I still can’t hear you.” He loved to point out when we were having “hearing people’s problems.” ❤️

Brent signing
Brent signing

Teacher and role model

Brent published videos and blogged about the technologies and services that enabled him to be productive at work [6,7,8], always pushing for better inclusion. He taught us all so much about Deaf culture, sign language, and interpretation. He had a tenacity balanced with a sense of humor that was impossible to resist, and his boisterous laughter was contagious. 

Brent Shiver communicating on his laptop with an ASL interpreter on a web conference.
Brent communicating on his laptop with an ASL interpreter on a web conference.

Brent also found time to give to the community in other ways. He was active in promoting STEM studies, and volunteered as a wrestling coach at the Texas School for the Deaf, drawing on his own experience as a wrestling champion. In 2007 he was inducted into the Georgia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. 🏆

#ShiverStrong

Brent’s #ShiverStrong approach to fighting cancer was tenacious, brave and filled with grace.  We are desperately sad to lose such a beloved member of our team and will miss him enormously. Our love and sympathies go out to his wife Shannon and their two sons Jax and Beckett.

the core IBM Accessibility team at IBM Design's office in Austin.
The core IBM Accessibility team at IBM Design’s office in Austin.
  1. Michael Gower, Brent Shiver, Charu Pandhi, and Shari Trewin. 2018. Leveraging Pauses to improve video captions. In Proceedings of the 20th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS ’18). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 414–416. 
  2. Brent N. Shiver and Rosalee J. Wolfe. 2015. Evaluating Alternatives for Better Deaf Accessibility to Selected Web-Based Multimedia. In Proceedings of the 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers & Accessibility (ASSETS ’15). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 231–238. 
  3. Jerry Schnepp and Brent Shiver. 2011. Improving deaf accessibility in remote usability testing In The proceedings of the 13th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers and accessibility (ASSETS ’11). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 255–256.
  4. Jiawei Wu, Shunguo Yan, Brent Shiver, Thomas Brunet, Ali Unwala, Alberto Fung, US Patent US10806125B1. Service Animal Navigation
  5. Susann M. Keohane, Maureen E. Kraft, Brent N. Shiver. US Patent US20190243837A1. Providing Search Result Content Tailored to Stage of Project and User Proficiency and Role on Given Topic 
  6. IBM Accessibility video https://www.facebook.com/brent.shiver/posts/10211195550821743
  7. Brent Shiver. 2020. Harnessing the Power of Video Remote Interpreting in Professional Space
  8. Brent’s blogs on IBM Age & Ability

IBM Accessibility Manager & Researcher

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