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Archive for November, 2010

As received from EC:

The European Commission is seeking the views of public and private organisations, companies and individual citizens on how Europe could scale up innovation to meet the challenges of the ageing population in Europe, and in particular on a pilot European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on active and healthy ageing, as set out in the Innovation Union Flagship Initiative, presented on 6 October by Maire Geoghegan Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science and Antonio Tajani, Vice-President for Industry and Entrepreneurship. Between 2010 and 2030, the number of Europeans aged over 65 will rise by nearly 40%, posing huge challenges but also offering great opportunities for Europe’s society and economy. The EIP, which the Commission has proposed should be launched in 2011, would seek to meet three goals: to improve the health and quality of life of older people, enabling them to live active and independent lives; to contribute to the sustainability and efficiency of health and social care systems; and to foster competitiveness and business opportunities . The online consultation runs until 28 January 2011.
John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy said: “Europe needs to prepare for the future ageing of its society and the use of innovation shall be one of the tools at our disposal. This is why I am very pleased that the very first of the Partnerships is on Active and Healthy Ageing: it will imply a close cooperation across different policies covering public health, research, digital and industrial policy.”
Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda said: “People are living for longer – and should be able to do so as actively and independently as possible, with the help of innovative solutions such as fall-detection and prevention devices, easy to use social interaction services to overcome loneliness, and smart use of ICT in the home. We need input from stakeholders to make sure the future Innovation Partnership can help to make these ideas a reality for Europe’s senior citizens.”
The consultation invites interested stakeholders, such as organisations representing the elderly and patients, hospitals and care service providers, health and care professionals, insurers, Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and health companies, public authorities and individual citizens, to help identifying current barriers to innovation and opportunities in the field of active and healthy ageing. Contributors can also share existing and future initiatives which could be undertaken at European level and advanced in a collaborative way. These should focus on how innovative solutions can bring promising and tangible outcomes to benefit the elderly.
The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, as a headline target, aims to increase the average healthy lifespan in the EU by two years by 2020. It seeks to improve older people’s quality of life and to lead to more efficient care solutions. It will focus on applying innovation on a larger scale than today in areas such as health promotion, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment, integrated and collaborative health and social care systems, independent living and assistive technologies for older people.
The Commission will analyse the responses to the consultation, in order to obtain a clear view of the innovation potential and capacity in the multiple areas that affect ageing today. The responses will help the Commission to plan the next steps for the EIP.
The online consultation runs in parallel to a Conference on the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, which is taking place in Brussels today. More than 150 stakeholder representatives are due to discuss their ideas for the partnership to convert into concrete actions.
The European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing is part of the EU’s “Innovation Union” strategy, one of the Europe 2020 flagship initiatives, to turn ideas into jobs, green growth and social progress (IP/10/1288). The Innovation Union has a three-fold goal: making Europe into a world-class science performer; revolutionising the way public and private sectors work together, notably through Innovation Partnerships, and removing bottlenecks – like expensive patenting, market fragmentation, slow standard setting and skill shortages – that currently prevent ideas getting quickly to market.
This corresponds to the Digital Agenda for Europe’s objective to harness the potential of ICT to boost prosperity and improve people’s quality of life (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). The Digital Agenda seeks inter alia to ensure that ICT allows a more independence for people who are frail or suffer from chronic conditions and for persons with disabilities. It aims to double the take-up of independent living arrangements for the elderly by 2015.
Similarly, “fostering good health in an ageing Europe” was identified as one of the three main objectives of the EU’s Healthy Strategy “Together for Health”.
The consultation document is available here.

Current public tenders for the development of software, website services, kiosk and terminal interfaces, etc. demand that the developed tools and products are accessible to every citizen. In this context, the EC-funded ACCESSIBLE project launched a wide range of disability personas, which are potentially of great usage to developers of software tools. They allow developers and designers to better understand the target groups they develop for, namely people with disabilities or older people.

As read on CEDEFOP: The European Commission has just adopted a new strategy to break down barriers with a view to tackling inequalities and social exclusion. The overall aim of this Strategy is to empower people with disabilities so that they can enjoy their full rights, and benefit fully from participating in society and in the European economy, notably through the Single market. Achieving this and ensuring effective implementation of the UN Convention across the EU calls for consistency. This Strategy identifies actions at EU level to supplement national ones, and it determines the mechanisms needed to implement the UN Convention at EU level, including inside the EU institutions.
This Strategy focuses on eliminating barriers. The Commission has identified eight main areas for action: accessibility, Participation, Equality, Employment, Education and training, Social protection, Health, and External Action.
Download European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: COM (2010) 636.

While Windows Mobile 6.5 had been made accessible to the blind with the help of the Mobile Speak and Talks screen-reading programs, these programs no longer work with Windows Phone 7. Andy Lees, president of Microsoft’s Mobile Business, stated that he was personally committed to ensuring long-term nonvisual access to the Microsoft mobile platform. This commitment was reaffirmed by Rob Sinclair, Microsoft’s chief accessibility officer; Chuck Bilow, Microsoft’s senior program manager responsible for Windows Phone accessibility; and Richard Suplee, a senior product planner in Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business wing.
Wait and see …

AAL (Ambient Assisted Living) has great potential for positively influencing the lives of many people. But impact so far has been less than hoped, partly due to fragmentation of research efforts and the lack of a standardised approach for developers. To address this, the AALOA (AAL Open Association) was launched.
The AAL Open Association is promoted by the partners of the European Integrated Projects PERSONA and universAAL and the discussion about its organization is currently coordinated by CNR-ISTI (Italy), Fraunhofer-IGD (Germany), ITACA-UPV (Spain), and SINTEF (Norway). The AALOA Manifesto defines the rationale and the purposes of the association. Today, the Manifesto is a dissemination effort of the EU projects MonAmI, OASIS, OsAmI-commons, PERSONA, SOPRANO, universAAL and WASP.

Mada, the Qatar Assistive Technology Centre, is launching its inaugural global seminar series on November 8 with an event on ‘Developing an accessible ICT ecosystem in Qatar.’
“As Qatar aspires to build a fully connected society, one of the key issues identified is digital access for people with disabilities,” Mada’s communications head Ahmed Habib said yesterday.
The conference, based on a vision of Information and Communication Technology for All, will feature G3ict’s executive director Axel Leblois.
G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, a flagship advocacy initiative of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development.
The seminar will also include a panel discussion, featuring key stakeholders, on the roles and responsibilities in building a fully accessible ICT environment within Qatar.
As a public private partnership, Mada is a collaborative effort between key ICT industry partners, Disability Service Providers, and different governmental bodies.
Mada’s directors are Dr Hessa al-Jaber (secretary general, ictQatar, HE Sheikha Hessa bint Khalifa al-Thani (former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability), Hassan Ali Bin Ali (chairman, Shafallah Center), Ali Shareef al-Emadi (Group CEO, QNB), Dr Nasser Marafih (CEO, Qtel), Grahame Maher (CEO, Vodafone Qatar), Mohamed Hammoudi (country manager, Microsoft).