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Category: FP7

The OASIS project launched its final video, providing insight in the project’s outcomes, and how the piloting was conducted.

The video features an interview with the OASIS project coordinator Silvio Bonfiglio (FIMI), as well as scenes from piloting and user forums in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Romania.

OASIS is a Large Scale Integrating Project — partially funded by the European Commission (FP7-ICT 215754) – with the aim to develop an open and innovative reference architecture, based upon ontologies and semantic services, that will allow plug and play and cost-effective interconnection of existing and newly developed services in all domains required for the independent and autonomous living of older people and their enhanced Quality of Life.

For more information: www.oasis-project.eu

A related video can be found at http://youtu.be/gOme8Qa-s9U which presents the OASIS project concept.

AEGIS released the Open Accessibility Framework (D1.2.1 AEGIS OAF and high-level architecture). It consists of two things:

  • A document describing the framework of things needed for 3rd generation accessibility, as validated by the prototypes and user/developer feedback in AEGIS
  • A collection of largely open source prototypes and code Deliverables implementing various aspects of the OAF, proven in AEGIS and contributed back to the open source projects of which they are part

This Deliverable (D1.2.1) contains the initial AEGIS Open Accessibility Framework (OAF) description. It is based upon:

  • The accessibility API and framework support from the existing Open Desktop (GNOME Accessibility framework) and the Java platform (the Java Accessibility API, keyboard operability guidelines, and theme support);
  • The AEGIS generic accessibility framework requirements (AEGIS ID1.2.1).

In addition, this Deliverable is informed by the early feedback from AEGIS consortium developments – highlighting anticipated areas that the OAF will necessarily need to cover. This includes:

  • ARIA implementations on various UI elements,
  • Initial work on JavaFX accessibility,
  • Alternate input systems for users with physical impairments (both for the open desktop as well as “thought experiments” for mobile),
  • Development of the RIM Blackberry mobile accessibility API and its use by the Oratio screen reader.

Finally, this Deliverable is informed by developments in the field of accessibility external to AEGIS development work. This includes:

  • ISO 13066 work to standardize AT-IT interoperability generally, and specifically to codify the set of information that must be provided via accessibility APIs;
  • The U.S. Access Board release of their “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” for the refresh of the Section 508 and Section 255 accessibility regulations/guidelines;
  • The Apple iPhone 3GS/4 (and iPad) which include a built-in screen reader and screen magnifier, both of which rely on a new set of multi-touch gestures for use;
  • The Android v1.6 and later operating system which includes the ‘Talk Back’ screen reading functionalit.

This initial OAF description will be updated throughout the remainder of the AEGIS project with the practical information we gain from implementing it in the desktop, web, and mobile space.

For more information, visit the OAEG OAF section. It outlines the Six Steps to Making an Accessible World: The Open Accessibility Framework.

AEGIS is an Integrated Project (IP) within the ICT programme of FP7.

The Special Thematic Session “Web Accessibility in Advanced Technologies” will be organised at the ICCHP 2012 in Linz, the 13th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs.

This conference will take place on July 11-13, 2012; with the Pre-Conference July 09-10, 2012. Place to be is the University of Linz, Altenbergerstraße 69, 4040 Linz, Austria.

The Web is rapidly evolving and converging with other media and technologies. Today the Web is on mobile devices, televisions, self-service terminals, and computer desktops. It is continuing to be increasingly ubiquitous and indistinguishable from other interfaces and an ambient part of our daily lives, particularly with the advancement of “the cloud.

Given the highly flexible and adaptable nature of the Web, its growth provides a critical potential of increased inclusion and equality for people with disabilities. However, it also raises new challenges for technology, software, and content developers in making their products and services accessible. In particular, the specific accessibility challenges and optimal ways for providing accessibility support are not well understood in all contexts, making it difficult to effectively design and develop accessible mainstream technologies.

This Special Thematic Session (STS) invites contribution and discussion on experiences with the day-to-day challenges that developers, evaluators, managers, policy makers, and other practitioners observe in implementing web accessibility in advanced technologies.

More specifically, this STS invites contributions analyzing good practices, use-cases, end-user requirements, promising accessibility features and solutions, and challenges in applying web accessibility in specific contexts such as (but not limited to):

  • HTML5 and rich internet applications;
  • Websites and applications for mobiles;
  • Digital/IP TV and audio-visual media.

This STS also welcomes research, surveys, and discussion of future trends and directions including (but not limited to) web telephony and real-time communication, self-service terminals (e.g. information kiosks, ticketing machines, ATM, etc.), online games, social networks, virtual and augmented environments, 3D Web, multi-touch, and the use of cloud technology for personalized accessible interfaces.

Acknowledgements: This Special Thematic Session (STS) is jointly organized by the EC-funded WAI-ACT, AEGIS, and ACCESSIBLE projects.

Chairs:

  • Shadi Abou-Zahra, W3C/WAI
  • Karel Van Isacker, EPR/MCA
  • Konstantinos Votis, CERTH/ITI

More information at http://www.icchp.org/node/363.

CLOUD4all, the European Commission funded program to develop a cloud-based accessibility architecture, started on 1st of November 2011. The project began with a meeting of the 30 partners and collaborators in Madrid, at Technosite/ONCE. Technosite is a member of the Raising the Floor Consortium and the coordinator for the project.
Raising the Floor – International is the technical coordinator for CLOUD4all. CLOUD4all will be carrying out research on some of the key core technologies of the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) and creating some of its first implementations. The 4-year, $3 million/year project is funding the European efforts of the Consortium to build the GPII.

Press release – Leuven, Belgium, 8 November 2011: The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven) today released an extension for OpenOffice.org Writer and LibreOffice Writer that enables users to evaluate and repair accessibility issues in word processing documents. “AccessODF” (http://sourceforge.net/p/accessodf/wiki/) is a freeware extension for OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice, two office suites that are freely available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux/Unix and Solaris. At the same time, K.U.Leuven also releases new versions of two other extensions: odt2daisy (http://odt2daisy.sourceforge.net/) and odt2braille (http://odt2braille.sourceforge.net/). The former enables users to export word processing documents to digital talking books in the DAISY format; the latter enables exporting to Braille and printing on a Braille embosser.
AccessODF, odt2daisy and odt2braille are being developed in the framework of the AEGIS project, an R&D project funded by the European Commission. The three extensions will be demonstrated at the AEGIS project’s Workshop and Conference, which take place in Brussels on 28-30 November 2011 (http://aegis-conference.eu/).

AccessODF

AccessODF is an extension that can be used in OpenOffice.org Writer and in LibreOffice Writer. It enables authors to find and repair accessibility issues in their documents, i.e. issues that make their documents difficult or even impossible to read for people with disabilities. This includes issues such as:

  • insufficient colour contrast between text and background,
  • missing text alternatives for images and other objects (such text alternatives are necessary for blind users and other users of text-to-speech software),
  • missing language identification for the document and for language changes inside the document (language information is needed for conversion into Braille and synthetic speech),
  • the use of proper Heading styles instead of big bold text to identify headings (this enables document navigation based on headings),
  • the use of proper tables instead of visually mimicking tables by using tabs or spaces,
  • the compatibility of images with DAISY, the de-facto standard for digital talking books.

The AccessODF extension displays its list of errors and warnings in a panel next to the main authoring area. For each accessibility issue, AccessODF provides a description and repair suggestions. Authors can repair the issues and recheck the document by pressing the Check button. For some issues, authors can simply press the Repair button to fix the issue automatically. For some other issues, pressing the Repair button guides authors to the appropriate dialog where they can fix the issues themselves. For all remaining issues, they can follow the instructions provided in the repair suggestions. If AccessODF lists an issue that is not an accessibility issue, authors can press the Ignore button.
Making Writer documents more accessible is not only important for users of Writer, but also for users of formats that Writer can export, for example PDF, XHTML, and – through extensions – DAISY and Braille. Accessibility evaluation and repair for Writer documents is a feature frequently requested by users of odt2daisy and odt2braille.

odt2daisy

odt2daisy is an extension that converts Writer documents into digital talking books in the DAISY format. It supports several versions of DAISY: not only the current version – DAISY 3.0 – but also the version DAISY 2.02 for compatibility with older DAISY players. odt2daisy supports Mathematical Markup Language (MathML) and multilingual documents. It uses the text-to-speech engines installed in the user’s operating system for speech synthesis.
odt2daisy was first released in November 2009. The new release includes many small improvements such as:

  • better support for tables and table captions,
  • better support for long text alternatives (“long descriptions”) for images,
  • better support for multilingual documents and non-Western languages,
  • preventing the use of incorrect bitrates for text-to-speech conversion,
  • better handling of title pages.

Many of these changes resulted from co-operation with a Flemish Braille and DAISY conversion centre.
odt2daisy is available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Linux and can be downloaded from http://odt2daisy.sourceforge.net/.

odt2braille

odt2braille is an extension that converts Writer documents into Braille or prints them on a Braille embosser. odt2braille was first released in August 2010. The new release includes numerous improvements, such as:

  • support for a larger number of Braille embossers,
  • support for a larger number of languages,
  • expanded Braille formatting settings for professional users: volume management, tables, footnotes, pictures, etcetera,
  • user interface localisation in other languages, e.g. Czech and Polish.

SourceForge selected odt2braille as “SourceForge Project of the Month” in April 2011: http://sourceforge.net/blog/april-project-of-the-month-odt2braille/. odt2braille can be downloaded from http://odt2braille.sourceforge.net/. At the time of writing, odt2braille is only available on Microsoft Windows. It will later become available as a Debian package prepared by the Debian Accessibility Project (http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-accessibility/). Mac users can try out a limited beta version (which does not have the print functionality, and has only been tested on Mac OS Leopard).

Open-Source Software

AccessODF, odt2braille, odt2daisy and most other software developed in the AEGIS project are or will be available as “open-source software”. This means that users will not only be able to download the finished product but also the programming code or “source code”. They can also modify and improve the source code, provided that they make their changes available to the developers or the community that maintains the software. This process enables a community of users to make improvements to the software and enables these improvements to be quickly available to other users.

About OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice

Several partners in the AEGIS project are making contributions to OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice, including Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), DART and FPD (both from Sweden). The OpenOffice.org Community (http://www.openoffice.org/) is an international team of volunteer and sponsored contributors who develop, translate, support, and promote the leading open source office productivity suite, OpenOffice.org. UNO, OpenOffice.org’s language-independent Application Programming Interface (API) is also available for developers, systems integrators, etcetera to use in OpenOffice.org extensions or in their own applications.
OpenOffice.org uses the OpenDocument Format OASIS Standard (ISO/IEC 26300) as well as supporting legacy file formats such as Microsoft Office, and is available on major computing platforms in over 100 languages. OpenOffice.org software was provided under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) until June 2011 and may be used free of charge for any purpose, private or commercial. OpenOffice.org development is expected to continue at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) under the Apache License.
LibreOffice (http://www.libreoffice.org/) is a free and open-source office suite based on the OpenOffice.org source code. It is a community-driven project of The Document Foundation. The Document Foundation was formed in September 2010 and has released several new versions of LibreOffice since that time. New code in LibreOffice is developed under a double license: the GNU Lesser General Public License Version 3 or any later version (LGPLv3+) and the Mozilla Public License (MPL).

Web Accessibility Initiative – Cooperation Framework for Guidance on Advanced Technologies, Evaluation Methodologies, and Research Agenda Setting to Support eAccessibility (WAI-ACT) will address critical areas of advanced accessibility support through activities that build upon the strengths of past web accessibility work, harmonize existing work, and help shape a research agenda in coordination with key stakeholders in Europe and internationally.

The project addresses the need for expanded European and international cooperation on the development of accessibility solutions for people with disabilities; for consensus-based, authoritative technical guidance to accelerate implementation of advanced technologies; for internationally harmonised evaluation methodologies; and for a coordinated research agenda on eAccessibility.

WAI-ACT addresses these challenges through development of a framework for open, expanded cooperation among European and international stakeholders, technical guidance on advanced web technologies; an evaluation methodology for web accessibility; and a research agenda for eAccessibility. Technical guidance will include a repository of information on accessibility support in web technologies, application notes on authoring accessible web page components, and code samples for web applications. WAI-ACT will result in: Expanded cooperation on the development of accessibility solutions; Authoritative accessibility guidance on advanced web technologies; Harmonized methodologies for evaluating accessibility of websites; and Common visions for a coordinated eAccessibility research agenda

WAI-ACT is co-funded by the European Commission as a Specific Support Action under the IST 7th Framework Programme. It is lead by and builds upon the strengths of the existing World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) cooperation mechanisms to facilitate strategic European and international participation throughout the project. Other project partners are Stiching Bartimeus Accessibility (SBA), Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology (Fraunhofer), and Johannes Keppler University (JKU). WAI-ACT will also seek active exchange with relevant networks in Europe such as eAccess+, and coordinate standardisation activities such as EC Mandate M/376.

WAI-ACT Project started as of 1 September 2011.
European Commission Project, 7th Framework Programme, IST 287725

Source: Project website