The ways in which we access the internet are expanding, placing hurdles in the way of those with sensory impairments as they try to get the most out of their online experience. The EU's CLOUD4ALL project is taking on the challenge of improving accessibility for people with special needs. Its work will help those concerned get the health and public services they need, along with improving their chances on the job market and preventing social exclusion.
The goal draws closer as the project launches its third pilot at the start of this year (2015), in Athens, Berlin and Madrid. This, the final pilot, which kicks off over the coming months, will test the final 'auto-configuration from preferences' process, where users will be able to switch between devices that will adapt their accessibility features to their needs. The project is inviting people who are interested in taking part and are based in the participating cities, to contact them.
Auto-configuration means that once a user has selected the settings they need to improve accessibility (display in high contrast or using a screen reader for example) those settings will apply to any device they use, which is Cloud4all compatible.
The first two pilot studies took place in 2013 and 2014 respectively. The first tested whether the concepts were viable, looking at user needs and early versions of tools aimed at participating developers. Researchers were pleased to note a very positive response from prospective users participating in the trial.
Last year the second pilot phase tested prototypes, including the preference management tools, on users. Developers were also involved and had the chance to give feedback on the project tools aimed at helping them develop applications.
CLOUD4ALL, funded by the FP7 programme, is part of the initiative, Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII). The project will focus on the development of the technical components that are needed to enable the auto-configuration of the accessibility features of different devices, platforms and applications.
The project, which draws on expertise from several partners, started in 2011 and is now entering its final year. It set out to achieve: simple and instant accessibility for all; using any device access anywhere; with better connected supply and demand and, affordable methods to offer diversity.
Researchers are using cloud technologies to reach these goals in a variety of ways including activating and augmenting any built-in accessibility features a device may already have and recommending third-party solutions based on the user's needs and preferences.
Explore further: Expert outlines challenges of visual accessibility for people with low vision
For further information please visit CLOUD4ALL: www.cloud4all.info/