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 email@example.com
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.
European Commission Funds Cloud Computing Accessibility Initiative
The Trace Center is one of the leaders in a new coalition that was awarded a $13 million, four-year grant by the European Commission. Titled CLOUD4All, the project launched in Madrid on November 1, 2011, and will be carried out by a coalition of 30 partners, including Microsoft, Mozilla, Phillips, eleven universities and research organizations, six user groups and nonprofit organizations, and nine other companies.
CLOUD4All is an FP7 large-scale integrated project to carry out initial research and development on several of the key components of the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII), which was conceptualized by the Trace Center as part of the Universal Interface and Information Technology RERC funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (grant #H133E080022). The GPII will in effect provide on-demand, personalized interfaces to information and communication technologies of all types, enabling people with disability, literacy, and age-related barriers to fully participate in our rapidly evolving technical society.
Trace Center Director Gregg Vanderheiden and others have created a new nonprofit association in Geneva, Switzerland called Raising the Floor - International, which will serve as the coordinating organization for worldwide efforts to develop the GPII. Funding for the GPII in the United States is included in the 2012 federal budget submitted by the White House.
Posted at 10:26 PM on November 30, 2011.
Report on 9-1-1 Calling for People With Disabilities
On July 21, 2011, the FCC released the Report on Emergency Calling for Persons With Disabilities: Survey Review and Analysis. This report is the result of a national survey conducted by the Emergency Access Advisory Committee (EAAC) during April and May 2011. Trace Center staff provided support for data compilation and graphing of the results, and Gregg Vanderheiden (Trace Center Director) serves on the EAAC.
Survey questions addressed a person's experiences and technology used when calling 9-1-1 today, and then asked for respondents' functional preferences for future Internet-based 9-1-1 calling (referred to as "NG9-1-1"). The survey was completed by 3,149 persons with various disabilities. Data will provide guidance to the EAAC as it develops recommendations to the FCC on technical and policy aspects of NG9-1-1.
Posted at 4:20 PM on July 25, 2011.
Proposals Solicited for White Paper
We are looking for assistive technology funding experts interested in writing a commissioned white paper aimed at understanding whether and how current AT funding programs can support GPII-based AT, including information about the relevant laws, regulations, and typical business methods.
The Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) is a project of Raising the Floor International and the Trace Center. The GPII will extend accessibility to more people with disabilities in more situations by supporting features and functions built directly into the internet. The GPII vision is that each computing or communication device will be able to instantly change to fit users as they encounter the device, rather than requiring users to figure out how to install, adapt, or configure access features they need. For AT and mainstream technology companies, GPII will introduce a system of shared components and services to reduce cost, increase interoperability, and foster innovation.
Those interested in submitting a proposal should email AT_funding@raisingthefloor.org to receive a copy of the RFP.
Posted at 3:36 PM on April 1, 2011.
Klaus Miesenberger is 2011 Catalyst Award Winner
The Trace Center presented the 2011 Harry J. Murphy Catalyst Award to Klaus Miesenberger on March 15, 2011 at the opening session of CSUN's 26th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, in San Diego, California. Dr. Miesenberger is professor of Human-Computer Interaction for People with Disabilities at the University of Linz, Austria. Professor Miesenberger is a classic catalyst, helping others to achieve - both directly and through the many organizations, programs, and new leaders he has helped create. Read more ...
Posted at 5:12 PM on March 23, 2011.
Focus Group Participants Wanted
The RERC on Telecommunication Access will be conducting focus group discussions via conference call in the spring of 2011. All of these discussions will gather consumers' opinions and recommendations regarding what we are calling "telecollaboration," or conference calls that are supported by shared media or other online support for the call. These may be group meetings or webinars.
There will be four Focus Groups - each on a different major disability group and a group that develops telecollaboration software. Flyers with more information are available for download:
- Combination Hearing and Vision Disability Focus Group: (PDF) (DOC)
- Speech Disability Focus Group: (PDF) (DOC)
- Upper Limb Physical Disability Focus Group: (PDF) (DOC)
- Telecollaboration System Developer Focus Group: (PDF) (DOC)
Posted at 4:32 PM on March 23, 2011.
Cell Phone Accessibility Resource
A new resource has been published on the Trace website to provide guidance for consumers and others concerned with making mass market cell phones more usable by people with disabilities and elders. Essentials for Cross-Disability Accessible Cell Phones suggests a minimum set of capabilities that mainstream phones could and should have, given today's technology, to enable a higher degree of accessibility.
This resource is a distillation of the Trace Center's research and development related to cell phone access, and is a product of the Telecommunications Access RERC. Included with this publication is a quick reference list that can be printed and used as a worksheet when assessing the accessibility of a cell phone. Also included is a list of some features that have appeared on mainstream phones and how they improve accessibility and usefulness for people with disabilities.
Posted at 3:29 PM on September 30, 2010.
HFES Poster Session About Trace Experience Lab
Since 2004, the Experience Lab has been conducted as part of the UW-Madison's pre-engineering Introduction to Engineering Design course. This one-hour lab provides an opportunity for each student to personally experience the impact that simple design changes can have on accessibility of everyday technology and other products.
A poster session about the lab, developed by J. Bern Jordan and Gregg Vanderheiden, was presented by Rebecca Perkins at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting in San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2010. For more details, see How to Present an Experience Lab.
Posted at 12:37 PM on September 27, 2010.
Vanderheiden Part of White House-FCC-Commerce Event
Trace Center Director Gregg Vanderheiden participated in a joint White House - FCC - Commerce Department brainstorming session held in conjunction with their July 19, 2010 ADA Anniversary Event. Moderated by Aneesh Chopra, White House Chief Technology Officer, an invited group of experts engaged in brainstorming related to Web accessibility and accessible public transportation.
Posted at 10:40 AM on July 21, 2010.
Four Android Applications Developed in Support of Raising the Floor
An accessible Android email reader, an Android-based barcode reader, an Android magnification app, and a fully accessible Web access plug-in for Android mobile devices have been developed and released as free, open source products by IDEAL Group Apps4Android, Inc., as part of Raising the Floor, an international coalition led by the Trace Center.
Posted at 1:25 PM on July 16, 2010.