Accessibility 2020 [#accessibility #a11y]

“I took the time to ‘bang-on’ about the convergence of devices and people such that assistive technology would be – in the end – just another user device; pushing the aspects of extreme customisation, adaptation, and personalisation – all of which I think future accessibility issues are really all about.”

EU Visitor

Visiting the European Commission

I was recently in Brussels for a meeting at the EU commission as an invited expert on the eAccessibility2020 project. Now this project has some similarities with work in progress at the W3C WAI RDWG in looking at future accessibility and surrounding issues:

The study on eAccessibility2020 (“Study on Implications from Future ICT Trends on Assistive Technology and Accessibility”, SMART 2010/0077) aims to provide the EC with recommendations on future research policy, especially regarding FP8 (ICT & FET) and the next Competitiveness & Innovation Programme (CIP). Also, the study will make suggestions on relevant standardisation issues and on EC policy activities for the wider mainstreaming and adoption of eAccessibility. To do so the study team will elaborate and validate specific use and technology-scenarios for 2020. These scenarios will result from vigorous interaction with eAccessibility-related stakeholders and experts, which will involve among other the identification and assessment of ‘Drivers of Change’ affecting the course of eAccessibility (i.e. key-trends, micro-trends and weak-signals). The study approach adopts a variety of methodologies, tools and activities and it is presented at http://www.e-accessibility2020.eu together with news, e-surveys and eventually the study results.

Along with Yeliz, I’d already been interviewed over the space of an hour about our views. I took the time to ‘bang-on’ about the convergence of devices and people such that assistive technology would be – in the end – just another user device; pushing the aspects of extreme customisation, adaptation, and personalisation – all of which I think future accessibility issues are really all about. Indeed I see this future as being the reason why I do accessibility – in general it is hard, non-trivial, work beyond both ‘plumbing’ or ‘toys’.

Web accessibility is really just an ‘über–use–case’ because in the end we will all be disabled by the technology or the environment. Indeed, work on Web accessibility is helping us address many other domains including those centred around user mobility and digital inclusion. For instance, by applying the same technology used to counter a physically disabled users tremors and jerky movements to the mobile Web, the operational problems of mobile interaction in moving environments are being addressed. Similarly, mobile Web access suffers from the interoperability and usability problems that make the Web as difficult to interact with for main–stream users as it is for visually impaired users. Again, solutions proposed 3–4 years ago in the Web accessibility community are now being applied to main–stream mobile devices.

Why not have a look at the ‘2020’ project and contribute to their surveys – in this way we can better predict and define our own future.

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One thought on “Accessibility 2020 [#accessibility #a11y]

  1. ADDENDUM:
    Preliminary results from the 1st survey of the eAccessibility2020 study

    Basic statistics (as of 27/07/11): The mean age of the respondents is 44 (ranging from 25 to 86 years old) with 73% of them being men and 27% being women. 18% of the respondents fall under the category of either having a disability or being a carer of a disabled person or being above 65. Finally 14% of the responses came from countries outside the EU.

    Results: Concerning the ‘User Needs’ respondents consider that practically all aspects of life of older people and people with disabilities will require new eAccessibility solutions by 2020. Health (Health: access to medical ICT devices & Health: access to e-health information services) and employment (Employment: e-work applications of tomorrow) appear at the top of the list.

    In the same area of ‘User Needs’, respondents rate as more important for new eAccessibility solutions in 2020 the: cognitive disabilities and the multiple disabilities. These two types of disability are ranked first in the list that covers also visual, hearing, speech, mobility and psychological disabilities.

    From a technological perspective and according to the survey results, 4 novel ICT solutions have been highlighted among a list of 18 as the most promising for the development of new eAccessibility solutions in 2020:

    * New Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Interfaces and Platforms
    * Motion and Gesture-recognition Systems
    * Ambient Intelligence (e.g. appliances and devices embedded in the home environment, that are context aware i.e. recognise the user and also personalized or even anticipatory)
    * Language Technologies (Natural Language Processing)

    Respondents recognise that there is evidence of future societal, technology and/or market trends affecting (directly or indirectly) the development of e-accessibility solutions. The following 3 trends reach the top:

    * Societal trend: Growing number of older people living alone
    * ICT trend: Multi-purpose interaction devices (e.g. smart phones and terminals)
    * Market trend: Mainstreaming of accessibility in ICT products and services

    Finally, in the question ‘How important do you judge each of the following initiatives / actions for the future mainstreaming of e-Accessibility solutions?’ surprisingly responses bring ‘Enhancing awareness on eAccessibility requirements among IT developers/ companies’ on the top, leaving below other important initiatives such as: stricter policy enforcement, research at EU level or networking among relevant actors.

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