The future of accessible ICT – Notes

[These are just rough notes ahead of a proper blog post on this event.]

These are notes from an event hosted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology on the future of accessibility in ICT on 22 Jan 2013. Event of an EU project CARDIAC. A near live blog.

Presentation 1 – Research Actions to Facilitate Inclusion

Results of the CARDIAC project – main result a research agenda roadmap.

See project website:

To advise the EC where to direct future research funding.

Used a process called Structured Dialogic Design Process (SDDP) to gather collective wisdom of a wide variety of stakeholders.

Triggering questions:
What mechanisms would ensure successful technology transfer?
What type of research is missing?
Another question?

Roadmap produced from 90-100 Reseach Ideas.

Research Actions organised in 14 Research Lines that are time distributed.

Comment – a broad research roadmap covering human factors and social issues as well as technological ones.

Trends on Inclusive Network Based Applications

Based on the model of ambient intelligence

Web 2.0 / Semantic Web

Use of social media to reduce isolation

Do people understand ambient technology, do they want it?

Inclusive user interaction

Example of research line of ambient technologies accessing ubiquitous environments.

Technology Transfer

How can users be integrated into technology transfer process?

Market and business theme.

Public procurement

Internet for All

Mike Short, IET President

Going trend for mobile and tablets.

Mobile is a key factor on accessibility to the Internet.

Social Networks

Growth of Apps

Mobile OSs have “rules” for developers that could influence accessibility.

Taking accessibility from a sense perspective

6th sense – e.g. Location based services.

Infrastructure challenge – e.g. better online customer care and support.

Networks now about speed, ease of use, and support.

A human/user centred view required.

Research Challenges:

Global standards / user inputs – accessibility community not effectively inputting to standards.

Better understanding of data protection.

mapping Interoperability Requirements in Assisted Living

Graham Worsley – UK Technology Strategy Board

Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP)

Challenges in assisted living – interoperability

4 successful projects funded 2012 on with a total of 169,000 users across the 4 projects.

Problem of non conformance with Medical Devices Directive when seeking to use customer’s own devices to deliver telecare.

The biggest challenges are organisational not technical.

What makes systems accessible?

Grunela Astbrink

What makes systems accessible is people!

E.g. Champions, Researchers, Company Designers, ….

Hardware and Software working seamlessly with network based services accessed by accessible interfaces.

WCAG 2.0, Equality Act 2010, Inclusive Design, Industrial Products – there are people behind all these.

Measuring Progress of eAccessibility in Europe (MeAC) – EU project:
Deficit Gap and Patchwork

Latest Study on telecoms, broadcasting and Internet
URL on slide see CARDIAC website

Examples of accessibility challenges:

– railway ticketing machine and people with intellectual disability (and all of us!)

– person with CP using a mobile phone (speech and dexterity problems)

Positive aspects:

Business Taskforce on Accessible Technology (BTAT)

– accessibility maturity model
– Accessibility Technology Charter

Investment in accessible ICT met a range of business goals.

Examples of easy to use mobile phones marketed for older people – initially a challenge to get business to see the opportunity.

Public Procurement:

Increased industry awareness.

EU Mandate 376

US and EU working towards harmonisation but challenges because of different perspectives.

Knowledge Sharing – a global community – need to include developing countries

“Nothing about us without us” including disabled people across research, standards development, etc.

Listening and heeding the lived experience of disability

Training and Mentoring.

Realistic end user focus.

Looking forward to research that will have a positive impact on making systems accessible!

Research Priorities for Accessible Smart Living

Peter Ball, Building Research Institute

Not noted because not relevant to my current role on access to education and the web.

How Fond Hopes Became Reality

Alan Newell, University of Dundee

Not a democrat – anything he has ever achieved has been done against popular support!

We need to improve our communications.

Book: Design at the Digital Divide

Mainstream technologists over-estimate the problems and underestimate the benefits of inclusive design

Data and guidelines are necessary but not sufficient – an empathy with potential users is required

How do we make mainstream designers to be a little bit more committed to inclusive design?

(c.f. Our paper on a challenge to web accessibility guidelines – for W4A – putting people and processes first)

Simple messages we put together forcibly – data and statistics are not that powerful at changing minds – what we need is stories! Data informs a good story changes minds. C.f literature and theatre. Appreciate disabled people as people not as statistics and stereotypes.

“The excellent is an enemy of the good”

Need rewards not guilt.

Inclusive design is:

– achievable with modest effort
– scientifically and technically challenging

Design for everyone is not a good design brief!!!

How to deliver the message?

Need narratives to build around our data – c.f. Scenario based design

Reality can be far too complex but fictional stories based on reality can help.

A good story is safe context for design.

Enlist the help of good communicators – film makers, advertisers, marketeers etc.

E.g. Dundee’s use of professional theatre in user based research.

(Note to self – how to employ in LA requirement capture work?)

Scriptwriters and actors are ethnographers.

Focus on the people rather than the technology.

A pragmatic solution is to offer trained actors as surrogates for disabled people. More easily available, can present particular combination of characters, skilled in think allowed – most general public are not, removes ethical problems, suspension of disbelief – therefor work with early prototypes before huge design effort has been invested.

The use of professional actors and scriptwriters needs to be budgeted into projects as much as other professionals e.g. developers and psychologists.

Note – Alan inspired me when I first started working in accessibility and still does!

A path forward

Greg Vanderheiden

There is a widening digital divide.

But many can’t use the modern interfaces for various reasons.

Access solutions are so complex that people who need then can’t use them.

Vendors of AT can’t serve all platforms and all devices. Many are in crisis.

We are currently loosing ground – only 3 – 15% of people in developed countries who need access technology are needing it.

Decreasing social resources – never been good at serving the tails.

We need something that is simpler, costs less per person,works across ICT, …

What if we have access on any device, anywhere? The GPII vision. Cloud based and using the power of everyday devices.

Cloud for all project EU funded

US funding for needs and preferences work (check out relation to IMS AfA)

Engineering Policy

Brian Collins

Note – engineering policy is ambiguous in English but both meanings are relevant.

Very little engineering policy as opposed to science policy in the UK.

Misalignment between accountability, authority and responsibility.

Digital Economies Programme of the UK research council.

Guido Gybels ICT Innovation Expert formally of RNID

Mainstream for most, specialised where needed – sometimes a tension here.

Many advantages of using mainstream technologies.

AT needs to be allowed to evolve.

AT as extension of the mainstream.

The technology is not the objective!

It is about citizenship/participation in society. This is not for a parallel society but for our society.

What are current technology drivers.

– social networking
– content is king
– connectivity + networking -> smart solutions
– cloud based storage and processing
– alternative input solutions e.g. Wii, Connetic

Get beyond requirements and pilots

Research Topics:

– battery technology
– ubiquitous user preference and ability profiling
– true smart (connected) solutions
– AI
– IPv6
– spectrum sharing, co-existence, new wireless technologies


– open standards, part of mainstream track
– insist on real-world business plans
– actively share and adopt best practice

Panel Discussion:

Not noted


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