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The IADIS Interfaces and Human Computer Interaction (IHCI) 2010 conference will take place in Freiburg, Germany, on 28–30 July 2010. It is part of the IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems (MCCSIS 2010) which takes place in Freiburg on 26–31 July 2010. The event aims to address the main issues of concern within Interface Culture and Design with a particular emphasis on the affective aspects of design, development and implementation of interfaces and the generational implications for design of human and technology interaction. This conference aims to explore and discuss innovative studies of technology and its application in interfaces and welcomes research in progress, case studies, practical demonstrations and workshops in addition to the traditional submission categories.
The conference will comprise of invited talks and oral presentations. Topics related to Interfaces and Human Computer Interaction are of interest. These include, but are not limited to the following areas:
– Affective User-centred analysis, design and evaluation
– The value of Affective Interfaces/ Systems/Application/ Interaction
– Generational differences and technology design
– Measurement of success of emotional technology/interfaces
– Supporting user populations from difference generations
– Supporting user populations with Physical Disabilities
– Supporting user populations with Intellectual Disabilities
– Creativity Support Systems
– Emotional Design issues/methods/experiences for novel interfaces including tangible, mixed reality interfaces and multi-modal interfaces
– Emotional Design issues/methods/experiences for mobile and ubiquitous computing
– Usability
– User studies and fieldwork
– Methodological implications of emotional user studies.
– Participatory design and cooperative design techniques
– Ethical issues in emotional design
– HCI education and design education
– Eliciting User Requirements

Important Dates:
– Submission Deadline: 19 February 2010
– Notification to Authors: 19 March 2010
– Final Camera-Ready Submission and Early Registration: Until 12 April 2010
– Late Registration: After 12 April 2010

More information on the website: www.ihci-conf.org

As appeared on PlatformOnline:

After taking in some sessions on technologies designed to improve health and education, we took a moment to speak David Brown, professor of interactive systems for social inclusion at NTU, and Penny Standen, professor of health, psychology and learning disabilities at the University of Nottingham, about their research into ‘serious games’.

What’s the difference between serious games and commercial games?

David Brown: Commercial games can be serious games, but it just means that, unlike commercial games with an entertainment purpose, serious games usually have some kind of learning or rehabilitation focus rather than purely entertainment.

At today’s conference, you presented several games designed to rehabilitate people with disabilities and health problems. Can you describe how one of those games would be used?

DB: One of the games that we develop is a 3D introduction to work. [It] uses the [Source] engine that’s used to produce [Half-Life 2]. Except we produce a new level of the game – it is modded. And instead of running around killing everybody, we strip all the weapons out, and we just use the characters the environments, the settings, the buildings, to simulate what it might be like for a person with a disability on their first day. Because they might have more extreme fear or trepidation about their first day. And there might be some really particular information about what a person with a disability must know on their first day – we use the game, and that engine, to simulate their first day at work.

Why did you decide to pursue this research?

DB: Really it was about 20 years ago. I started working with Penny [Standen] and the Sheppard school 20 years ago, because people with a learning disability don’t particularly work [well] with abstract ways of learning, such as learning English to describe something or mathematics. They work very well with being shown or interacting with three dimensional, interactive environments – where you can learn by doing, learn experientially rather than learning something like English then reading a book about it, because it is an abstract [way] to learn about a real world system. So, we simulate the real world system.
Penny Standen: You can also do it over and over again. You can practice things as many times as you like without really getting your teachers fed up. And it’s a safe environment in which to practice in.

The possibility to repeat tasks is a key advantage for serious games, then…

DB: Yeah. [Users] can interact, they can get consistent feedback. It is your interaction at drives the learning process, so you’re fully engaged in the system. We started with the development of virtual environments way back in the day. But what we find more recently is, we can do the same kind of simulations, but the games’ engines give us all of the environments and the characters already developed up to a really high [level] of fidelity. That’s what our young gamers have come to expect. So, if we were developing those characters ourselves we [would] have to invest huge amounts of time and energy to produce that kind of level of system. Whereas, games’ engines do half that work for us. We just then have to embed the narrative in there, rather than developing the environment and characters as well.

What sort of limitations are there for serious games?

DB: The limitations would be whether we’ve actually embedded the learning objectives in them. Sometimes with serious games, we put lots of learning objectives in and that detracts from the game playing element. But with pure games, there isn’t the learning embedded in it either. It’s about finding that middle ground between the two, so you’re maximising the engagement from a computer game, but also getting the advantages of having learning objectives. That’s a really fine line to balance between. Sometimes you achieve it and sometimes you don’t.

Where do think your research will take you in the future?

DB: Well, there are lots of things we want to do, like a lot of the stuff we’ve been showing tonight, such as stroke rehabilitation. What I want it to be now. We’ve had lots of ideas for the last 20 years, but, perhaps over the last five or six years, we’ve been proving that serious games and virtual environments do have a real clinical effect – as Penny’s proved – on people’s choice reaction time or their independent decision making or in some of the other studies on memory. So, these games and environments do have a real educational or clinical effect and we need to go on proving that. Once we [establish] that, they’ll be embedded into real educational and rehabilitation [institutions].
PS: [Building] something that’s more acceptable to a wide range of age groups as well. I think people have been saying that some of the [users] are too old and they may not want to do it. But I think they’ve got to be acceptable to everybody, so that people use them as a natural form of learning or treatment.

To find out more about serious games research in Nottingham see ntu.ac.uk/sat.

Although music has been transcribed into Braille for nearly two centuries, it has been difficult for blind musicians to access scores because of national differences, lack of good teachers, and the intrinsic limitations of the format. A new European system promises to make music for the blind far more accessible and useful.
It’s estimated that less than 15 percent of printed music has ever been transcribed into Braille, and much of that is only locally available. The Contrapunctus project used digital technology to create an enriched and standardised digital format to make it easier to transcribe music into Braille and make musical scores for the blind universally available and more useful.
Blind and visually impaired musicians worldwide can download enriched, multimedia scores from a growing digital library, study them with greatly enhanced flexibility, and add new scores to the library as well. It’s a revolution.
Source: ICT Results e-bulletin

ÆGIS (Open Accessibility Everywhere: Groundwork, Infrastructure, Standards) is organising a satellite event in the context of ETAPS 2010 (European Joint Conferences on Theory and Practice of Software ‐March 20‐28, 2010, Paphos, Cyprus). The satellite event FOSS‐AMA (Free and Open Source Software for Accessible Mainstream Applications) will take place on 27‐28 March 2010 and is inspired by the FP7 ÆGIS IP initiative (http://www.aegis‐project.eu).
FOSS‐AMA will aim to bring together recent achievements and renowned experts from the Open Source Community and Accessibility. 3rd generation access techniques and their potential for more accessible mainstream ICT for end‐users and relevant toolkits for developers will be explored. Interactive demos will embellish the presentations sessions.
The event is spread over 2 days, will be chaired by Karel Van Isacker (Marie Curie Association) and will have the outline as presented in this pdf.
Registration details will be available from 25 January 2010 on via http://www.etaps10.cs.ucy.ac.cy/.

29 January 2010 /// On 27 January 2009, the renewed Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament and the European Disability Forum toasted the New Year in Brussels at a very well-attended event. The new President of the Intergroup – for the first time a person with a disability himself, – and the disability movement presented the Disability Pact to a hundred of activists and 20 MEPs from various political groups and nationalities.

“The historic day for persons with disabilities”
The Disability Intergroup (DI) is an informal grouping of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all nationalities and most political groups who are interested in promoting the disability policy in their work in the European and national contexts. The DI is one of the oldest Intergroups: it was established in 1980. It is currently composed of about 100 MEPs. Last December 2009, the Intergroup elected Ádám Kósa MEP (HU, EPP) as President of the DI. At the cocktail, Pál Schmitt, Vice-President of the European Parliament welcomed his Hungarian colleague and expressed his support to the disability movement. Yannis Vardakastanis, President of EDF stated:”Today is an historic day for the 65 million persons with disabilities. Today, for the first time in the history of the Intergroup, the motto “Nothing about us without us” calling for a full participation of disabled people in all policies is becoming a reality.”
Ádám Kósa conceded: ”I have a dream that persons with disabilities will finally decide for themselves. The full ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as the adoption of the Disability Pact by the EU Member States are the necessary steps to achieve this dream that I share with 65 million persons with disabilities in Europe”. The active involvement of persons with disabilities in the ongoing elaboration of the disability policy for the next decade is essential. If the principle of full participation is put into practice, the Disability Pact proposed by EDF will contribute to the development of truly inclusive societies, in which all voices are heard and persons with disabilities can help shape a better world for all.

Why is the Disability Pact necessary?
The Disability Pact for 2011 to 2021 is a coordinated and sustainable disability policy at European and national level with clear and long-term direction and cooperation between Member States and the European Union. At the moment, there is no long-term EU agenda on disability that involves a clear joint commitment from the Institutions and its Member States. The 27 member states are developing 27 different national disability action plans. Coordination between the European and national actions and clear and measurable objectives linked to the EU strategy for growth and jobs is the road to a barrier-free Europe.
More information: www.disabilitypact.eu

The European Disability Forum (EDF) is the European umbrella organisation representing the interests of 65 million citizens with disabilities in Europe. EDF membership includes national umbrella organisations of disabled people from all EU/EEA countries, as well as European NGOs representing the different types of disabilities, organisations and individuals committed to disability issues. The mission of the European Disability Forum is to ensure disabled people full access to fundamental and human rights through their active involvement in policy development and implementation in Europe.

iPad with keyboard

iPad with keyboard

Following article was posted on AccessTech news website.
The iPad, at first glance, looks like an enlarged version of an iPod Touch or iPhone. It’s 9.7 inches diagonally, compared to the iTouch’s 4.7 inch diagonal screen so it’s approximately 4 times the width and height but not thicker than the smaller devices.
Like the iTouch and iPhone, the iPad synchronizes with iTunes and is not really designed to be anybody’s primary computing device. Although it seems like you can do almost anything on this device, it’s not designed to be a primary or only computing device – Apple expects you’ll have a laptop or desktop computer as well.
The iPad runs the same operating system as the iPhone and iPod Touch, which means that all your existing applications should run on an iPad as soon as the devices are available – the existing apps will just look bigger on the iPad screen. And developers are already starting to develop iPad specific apps, which are designed for the larger screens and can take specific advantage of these.

Built in accessibility features
All existing iPhone accessibility features will be available on the iPad. This means VoiceOver, screen zoom, white-on-black display, mono audio, and closed-captioned content will all be supported on every iPad. It seems from the iPad specifications that fewer languages will be supported, at least initially, which will impact some VoiceOver users.
More info on the aforementioned AccessTech news website.