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Archive for January, 2012

The numerous political initiatives and the increasing financial involvement of firms attest of the growing attention to e-Accessibility. It was still, a few years ago, a question limited to specialists. Today, however, it is a regular preoccupation in the ICT sector. But this achievement must be nuanced. Nowadays, e-Accessibility is still considered as a supplement to the information system development: features dedicated to the disabled population, facultative feature, economical investment detached from any return on investment, e-Accessibility is often thought as an external problem, peripheral to the development of the Information Society. But it appears more and more clearly that this externalizing perspective is one of the most important reasons of the difficulties of e-Accessibility development. Technically, any underestimate of accessibility at the earliest design stage of a device or a website implies a complex and costly reengineering. Economically, it restricts the target of e-Accessibility to the disabled persons, which prevents decision makers to apprehend the larger benefits for companies and society as a whole. Finally, politically, this limited perspective turns us away from the juridical paradigm stating that society, not the individual, is responsible for any disability and, from this point of view, that accessibility is a primordial need for everyone. For all these reasons, putting e-Accessibility at the core is an urgent technological, economical and socio-political necessity. It is in this context that the Institute of e-Accessibility (IAN) organizes the 6th European Forum on e-Accessibility on the theme: “Putting e-Accessibility at the core of the information systems”. Registration is now open.
Link to event website.

Making Mobile Phones and Services Accessible for Persons with Disabilities is a joint report of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and G3ict. Researched and Edited by the Center for Internet & Society, and was released in November 2011.

Mobile communications have become in less than two decades omnipresent in all countries, reaching out to the most isolated and underserved populations in developed and developing countries alike. In 2011more than 5.4 billion mobile phones are in use, almost one per human being on the planet.

In the midst of this telecommunication revolution, however, populations of senior citizens and persons living with disabilities have been left out due to accessibility factors: complex human interfaces difficult to understand and activate for persons with cognitive impairments or learning disabilities, lack of alternative communications for persons living with low vision, blind, hard of hearing or deaf, or, quite often handset ergonomics too difficult for persons with physical disabilities such as dexterity or mobility limitations.

This report contains references to the new legislative and regulatory framework set by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an important resource for policy makers. It also covers practical elements required for a successful implementation of those programs and policies.

Download report.

The aim of the study “Internal market for inclusive and assistive ICT, targeted market analysis and legislative aspects” was to examine the main barriers and opportunities today in the European Internal Market for assistive ICT and look at what could be gained from addressing these.
The study has assessed the different models existing in nine Member States for the provision of assistive ICT to people with a disability, analysed the demand- and supply side of the market and conducted a number of case studies. The study puts forward a number of scenarios, conclusions and recommendations for the achievement of the European Internal Market for assistive ICT that supports the digital inclusion of people with a disability.

Download the final report (September 2011).

The EC funded ATLEC (Assistive Technology Learning Through A Unified Curriculum – 518229-LLP-1-2011-1-UK-LEONARDO-LMP) project organises its kick-off meeting on 16-17/01/2012 in Nottingham, UK.

Studies throughout Europe under ACCESSIBLE and AEGIS (FP7 projects), and KA3 project ImPaCT highlighted in their pan-European surveys with over 1000 end-users and AT (Assistive Technologies) specialists that training is the core barrier towards using AT by end-users. This lack of training is subsequently also recognised as main barrier to assume a daily job in a regular working environment.

Although there are European initiatives such as EASTIN (www.eastin.info), which already gather (partial) ISO structured databases on AT, the actual ICT AT training is lacking, or not meeting the needs of the end-users. Although there are a number of initiatives on AT across the EU such as ATVET (UK), Blind people in Qualification (Austria), IMPACT, Keeping Pace with Assistive Technology (IT), they mainly address training of the trainers and professionals working with PwDs, and not the actual beneficiaries (people with disabilities) which remain largely unaware of the ICT AT that is there for them. ATLEC is to fill this gap and will focus on training the learners in specific skills particularly tailored according to their individual and employability needs, while also creating the job profile of ICT AT trainer.

The innovation of this project lies with the user centred design approach as well as the individual tailoring of the ATLEC curriculum and training materials to the learners’ needs, combined with the implementation of mobile learning objects to support the training, as well as applying mentoring as an additional supportive aspect of the ATLEC training services. The focus is on the person with disability (his/her needs and abilities as a learner), as well as the trainer.

Also the pedagogical methodologies will be innovative, using blended learning (F2F, online and mobile), resulting in accessible WCAG2.0 compliant learning/training objects, which are thus exchangeable with other learning initiatives. All ATLEC learning objects, training material and mobile applications will also be offered through the platform the ViPi project (KA3-ICT, 511792-LLP-1-2010-1-GR-KA3-KA3NW) aims to launch in 2012, and which is coordinated by PhoenixKM.

Training the end-users in appropriate usage of ICT-based AT means also teaching them new skills, digital competencies, learning to learn skills (key competencies), empowering them with a greater confidence, adaptability and a more positive attitude towards risk taking and access to an otherwise still to a large degree inaccessible physical, technological and attitudinal employment environment.

Apart from providing them the knowledge about AT ICT usage, and what is most appropriate for their specific disability, a mentoring scheme will be set up and ran in workplaces in Belgium and Greece, directly linking the knowledge and skills acquired with the practice, while also facing the reality in the working environment.

Last but not least the job profile of ICT AT trainer and the workplace mentoring scheme qualifying people with disabilities from unemployed, unqualified into qualified trainers will greatly increase their self-esteem, confidence and provide them with easier access to the regular labour market, as well as create new employment opportunities for the People with Disabilities communities. In the long term, this will lessen the social and economic burden.