Barrier-Free Technology Coming of Age
June 7, 2012
Despite the rapid increase in access to and use of the Internet, barriers still exist for a wide variety of users: people with disabilities, people who are aging, and people who have literacy and digital-literacy challenges.
Researchers in the US and abroad are working together to remove these barriers with a concept that is set to revolutionize the way millions of people use any type of information or communication technology. Known as the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII), the concept proposes instant and automatic personalized of any device a person encounters to match their individual abilities.
Using an electronic "key" or token that can be on a person's key ring, built into their phone, or even in a ring worn on their hand, the person can touch a device and cause it to automatically change into a form the person can understand and use. For a person who is blind, a computer might start talking. Or it might suddenly change its interface into a very simple one for someone who is elderly and cannot handle complexity or remember new things from day to day. A person who can't see small print might be able to shop for a new phone - and have each phone automatically change to its large print mode as the person picks them up (and change back when they set them down). And a television interface could change between complex, simple, and very simple to match the abilities of different users in the family from young children to teens to adults to seniors.
The GPII concept, which originated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has quickly grown into an international movement with participants from around the world and support from US, Canadian and European governments. The latest support comes from a 7.5 million euro grant titled Cloud4all from the European Commission.
The first implementations of the GPII are being demonstrated today at the 5th Cloud Computer Forum and Workshop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which runs from June 5-7, 2012, and simultaneously at a research coordination and planning workshop at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels Belgium, June 7th. The demonstrations show Windows and Linux computers and Android phones automatically changing to match the needs of users as diverse as young computer programmers with low vision, to elders who cannot deal with computer complexity, to African farmers who can neither use normal computers nor read any written text. In the demonstrations, wooden mannequin hands are used to represent the different users. Each wears a ring that, when touched to the phone's or computer's NFC reader, causes the phone or computer to instantly change to match that users abilities.
For more information on the potential current as well as future benefits of the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure, please visit:
GREGG VANDERHEIDEN, PHD.
High Resolution Images are available by contacting:
Dan Nordstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Trace Center
The Trace Research & Development Center has been a leader in the field of technology and disability for over four decades, and has been at the forefront of developing evidence-based and practical guidelines and technologies to remove barriers and increase access to information and communications technology for a wide variety of individuals. Trace access technologies are found, among other places, in every copy of Windows, Mac OS, Gnome, and in Amtrak ticket machines, USPS Automated Postal Stations, and airline kiosks. (http//:trace.wisc.edu)
About Raising the Floor Consortium and the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure
Raising the Floor Consortium, headquartered in Geneva Switzerland, is an international consortium of organizations and individuals working to ensure that everyone who faces barriers due to literacy, digital literacy, disability, or aging, is able to access information and communication technologies (ICT) regardless of their financial resources or those of their country. The primary activity of Raising the Floor is the development of a Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure; and enhancement of the Web/Cloud/ICT infrastructure that can allow instant and affordable transformation of ICT into forms that are usable and understandable to individual users. (http://raisingthefloor.org and http://GPII.net)
Cloud4all is a new FP7 large scale integrating project funded by the European Commission. Its goal is to develop and test key portions of the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure. Cloud4all is supported by a 7.5 million Euro grant from the European Commission and 5.5 million Euros in matching funds. The Cloud4all grant is being carried out by a consortium of 26 companies, universities, and other organizations in Europe, the US and Canada. (http://Cloud4all.info)
Posted at 10:13 AM on June 7, 2012.