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PRESS RELEASE – Brussels, Belgium, 17 February 2012 – Recent studies throughout Europe [e.g. ACCESSIBLE, AEGIS (FP7 projects), and KA3 project ImPaCT in Europe] with over 1000 end-users and Assistive Technologies (AT) specialists, indicate that lack of training is one of the core barriers towards effective usage of Assistive Technology (AT) by people with disabilities. This lack of training is subsequently also recognised as a main barrier for people with disabilities gaining employment in the regular labour market.

Alongside various European initiatives that address training the trainers and professionals who work with people with disabilities, ATLEC, (Assistive Technology Learning Through A Unified Curriculum) a 2 year project partially funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning program, aims to fill the current gap concerning the ICT AT training of people with disabilities.
ATLEC will support their learning in order to develop specific skills, particularly tailored to their individual and employability needs, while also creating the job profile of ICT AT trainer, relevant for VET (Vocational Education and Training) Centres.

“The ATLEC project gives us an opportunity to work with colleagues across Europe in establishing and developing assistive technology for young people and for adults with physical and learning disabilities.
In the world of Disability we only move forward by working together. We are all European citizens and it’s very important we share our expertise across the European Community. The more we share together, the better.3
(David Stewart OBE, Headteacher at Oak Field School & Sports College, Nottingham, UK)

The kick-off meeting of the ATLEC project took place on 16-17/01/2012 in Nottingham, UK. It brought together experts in the field from four different countries. The ATLEC partnership consists of: Oak Field School and Sports College (U.K.) –contractor-, PhoenixKM BVBA (BE) –coordinator-, Disability NOW (GR), AIAS Bologna onlus (IT), Greenhat Interactive Ltd (U.K.), and the University of Athens (GR).

The innovation of this project lies with the individual tailoring of the ATLEC curriculum and training materials to the learners’ needs, combined with the implementation of mobile learning applications to support the learning, as well as applying mentoring as an additional supportive aspect of the ATLEC training services. The learner and his/her needs and potential are central in the project, as well as the relationship between the learner and the trainer who is expected to equally benefit from the learning process.

Supporting the end-users’ learning in effective usage of ICT-based AT means enables them to gain new skills, including self-directed learning and also allows them to gain self confidence, improve their adaptability skills and their attitude towards risk taking which is necessary to address the challenges of the employment environment that in many cases is still full of physical, technological and attitudinal barriers.
A mentoring scheme will be set up and run 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.

The applied pedagogical methodologies will use blended learning (face-to-face, online and mobile), and will provide accessible WCAG2.0 compliant learning/training objects/material, which are thus exchangeable with other learning initiatives. All ATLEC learning opportunities objects, learning materials and mobile applications will also be offered through the platform of the ViPi project (KA3-ICT, 511792-LLP-1-2010-1-GR-KA3-KA3NW, www.vipi-project.eu) that aims to launch in 2012, and which is also coordinated by PhoenixKM BVBA.

Finally, the ATLEC consortium is focusing on promoting free access to the resources developed. The mobile application will be freely available via the Android market, while all created material will follow a creative commons license. This approach will ensure that the research, methodology and outcomes of the project will be freely available to everyone.

The 2nd ATLEC project partnership meeting will take place in Belgium (Ypres) and is scheduled for 25-26/6/2012, in combination with a local workshop.

Follow ATLEC project via Twitter: www.twitter.com/ATLEC_project
or via Facebook: www.facebook.com/ATLECproject

Using social media is for everyone, also for people with disabilities. However, many accessibility issues arise, which were strikingly discussed in the presentation “Social Media Accessibility: Where Are We Today? A modest attempt at awaking the giants” by Denis Boudreau at CSUN 2012.

Media Access Australia now released a nice list of guidelines how a person with disabilities can use YouTube (guidelines) , Twitter (guidelines) and Facebook (guidelines).

At CSUN 2012, Rich Schwerdtfeger, Steve Falkner, and Marco Zehe gave an excellent presentation on the state of the art of HTML 5 accessibility. See slides and video.

The “Interactive Technologies and Games: Education, Health and Disability 2012″ (ITAG) conference takes place this year on 23-24 October 2012 at Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham.

Call for papers

The aim of the conference is to bring together academics and practitioners working with interactive technologies to explore and innovate within the areas of Education, Health and Disability. We have a particular focus on the use of gaming hardware and software to implement accessible solutions, interaction design using new input/output devices and the increasing impact of ubiquitous computing on our everyday well being.
The conference provides an excellent opportunity to showcase practice and to mainstream research ideas and outcomes. It introduces a wider audience to key findings and products from research and illustrates how practice feeds back into and informs research. The conference creates a forum for two-way communication between the academic and practitioner communities and particularly welcomes user led presentations and workshops.
The programme includes presentations of papers, workshops, and an exhibition space for demonstrations and posters. This event is held in partnership with GameCity – the World’s best-loved videogame festival (http://gamecity.org/) and delegates are welcome to attend all GameCity events including the opening drinks reception.

Scope

As guidance to participants on scope of papers and activities we state that: ‘Education’ includes both compulsory and post-compulsory education; ‘Disability’ includes physical, sensory and cognitive impairment; and the impact of interactive technologies and games on health and well-being is also a focus of this conference. An emphasis is placed on practical applications and guides to where currently available training resources and tools can be found and used. A selection of papers will be published electronically in full, so presentations will be limited to 20 minutes for the key findings, including time for questions from the floor. It is hoped (as in previous years) that the best papers will be published in a special issue of a relevant academic journal. Previous special issues have included:

  • Journal of Assistive Technologies – Volume 3 issue 2 June 2009 (ITAG 2008 selected papers)
  • Computers and Education – Volume 56, issue 1 (ITAG 2009 selected papers)
  • International Journal of Games Based Learning – in press (ITAG 2010 selected papers)
  • Journal of Assistive Technologies – Volume 6 issue 3 in development (ITAG 2011 selected papers)

Themes and topics:

The conference encourages multidisciplinary papers and examples of themes and topics include (but don’t let this restrict you):

Games Based Learning:

  • Social and collaborative aspects of games (e.g., educational aspects of Massively Multiplayer Online Games)
  • The efficacy of games based learning
  • Self authored content and personalisation in games
  • Learning theory, pedagogy and instructional design in games
  • Motivational aspects of games
  • Collaboration between Science and Art for more effective learning
  • Games to promote the inclusion (e.g., for offenders and people with disabilities, motivation of female gamers)

Game related Technologies:

  • Using contemporary games controllers to create new opportunities in health and rehabilitation applications (e.g., applications for Wii Fit, Kinect. Move).
  • Brain control interfaces to games
  • Pervasiveness and mobility of games
  • Location based services
  • Handheld learning in the classroom

Games for Health:

  • Serious games for clinical assessment (e.g. after stroke)
  • Serious games for rehabilitation and treatment (e.g. of phobias, ADHA, post-traumatic stress disorders, stroke)
  • ‘Modding’ for health
  • Art and music rehabilitation in 3D multisensory environments
  • Games for children in hospital
  • Games to increase physical activity in children

Accessibility and Design:

  • Open source accessibility
  • Participatory design
  • Design for all
  • Natural user interfaces
  • The representation and promotion of gender equality in games
  • Alternative input modalities to games for people with disabilities (e.g., brain, haptic and audio interfaces)
  • Access to interactive technologies for elderly people

Web based technologies:

  • Resources for interactive learning tools and environments, e.g. Flash, podcasts, simulations, mobile games, Web 2.0 tool etc.
  • The Internet as a communication medium ( e.g. for people with Asperger Syndrome).
  • Browser based games and linking into social media channels

Submissions

Those wishing to present papers or hold a workshop should send abstracts, to a maximum of 500 words. For those hoping to exhibit or produce a poster, a 300-word abstract is required. The deadline for submissions is Friday1st June 2012 to be sent to: karen.krelle@ntu.ac.uk
Final copies of accepted papers are required by Friday 14th September 2012
There is a conference fee of £150 for 2 days, and £80 for 1 day registration. This price includes your invitation to the Game City opening event, lunch, and morning and afternoon refreshments.

Accommodation and Travel Links:  https://www.conferencebookings.co.uk/delegate/NCBITAGEHD2010 and http://www.nctx.co.uk/

Prizes Offered:

As in previous years prizes will be awarded!

  • Best Paper Award: £250
  • Best Student Paper award: £250
  • Best Student Poster: £150