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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).

As read on The Digital Reader:
UN press release – In an unprecedented United Nations-supported initiative, people who cannot see and those who have other forms of visual disability will have access to published works through publisher intermediaries who will create accessible formats of publications and share them with specialized libraries.The new arrangement was announced today at the of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) meeting in the Indian capital, New Delhi.
It is estimated that only five percent of the world’s one million print titles that are published every year are accessible to the some 340 million around the world who are blind, visually impaired or who live with other print disabilities.
Specialized organizations globally, such as libraries for the blind, have taken on the task of adapting these books into Daisy, Braille audio or special digital formats at great expense.
WIPO and has collaborated with organizations representing authors, publishers and blind and low vision persons, including the World Blind Union and the International Publishers Association to provide access to a wider range of accessible books. WIPO will provide the technical support for the project.
“WIPO is pleased to announce the launch of this innovative and unprecedented collaboration between the private sector and public interest organizations which aims at facilitating access to published works by the visually impaired and print disabled,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, who attended the meeting in New Delhi.
“The success of this project – which represents an effective global partnership for development – will require commitment and investment of all concerned,” said Mr. Gurry.
Through a range of library services and publisher offerings, the new initiative aims to ensure that people with print disabilities in both developing and developed countries have equal access to published works as persons without print disabilities.

As seen on EmpTech:
Create&Convert is a free tool that has been designed specifically to help colleges and universities comply with the Single Equality Act in the way that they publish information, particularly learning materials. C&C is a free open source tool that can convert Word or Open Writer documents (as well as editable scanned OCR docs) into a range of alternative formats, such as a digital talking book, Mp3 format and Braille etc
There are two versions of C&C, one for Word (uses the SAVE as DAISY Add-in 2003/2007 and soon 2010) and Open Writer which features Braille conversion too. While both are intended to work portably the Open Writer version will only run from a USB and not from the desktop.
This development was made possible partially with the help and support of the AEGIS project that developed the odt2Daisy and the odt2braille extensions.

RAate conference takes place on Monday 29th November 2010 in the UK (University of Warwick Conference Centre). RAatE 2010 is a conference focused on the latest innovations and developments in assistive technology.
The conference program has, over the past years, regularly included new technological developments, service innovations, results of formal research projects, service based research and development and a wide range of other stimulating topics.
More info on the event website.