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Apps with uncomplicated User Interfaces

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Steve Lee

Older user who are unfamiliar with the latest technology and people with learning difficulties are among those who really appreciate apps that have uncomplicated user interfaces. However many operating systems and apps are unsuitable for such users as they have complex or fast changing features. Further, lack of attention to general accessibility, such as text, size compound the problems experienced by these users.

It is fair to say that the requirements of these users are currently not well met by general purpose OSs and apps. Certainly not as well as those with sensory disabilities such as low or no vision. There are however several apps specifically designed to address requirements of users. For example medication reminders, reading aids and life skills training. Also, a few non-app products such as BT large button phones and Doro mobile phones are available and address accessibility needs in a narrow field.

Here are a few example apps.

  • iDress Clear picture-based indication of current weather and suitable clothing for outdoors (iOS).
  • ZiltaHome screen with easy access to common smart phone activities such a calls and mail (Android).
  • MAAVIS A research protoype and framework for creating UIs with simple access to media and communications (Windows)

A new EC FP7 funded project being run as part of GPII activities, Prosperity4All, will be providing guidelines and frameworks for UIs for people with low digital literacy. Prosperity4All is expected to start early in 2014 and compliments Cloud4All's automatic personalisation technologies. Until then here are a few example apps.

Are there any existing guidelines? How about existing apps?

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Mobile device accessibility self-training course

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Mobile devices must be designed to work for all people, regardless of their situation, environment, culture or technology used. In fact, the development of mobile technology has resulted in important benefits for everyone but particularly for persons with special needs. Mobile devices contribute to enhance their access to communication and to the services offered by the information society. They also help make independent access to information possible for persons who would otherwise need the assistance of others.

However, when a mobile device is not properly designed it creates barriers that hinder effective communication. It also contributes to the widening of the digital gap and to the social exclusion of persons with special needs. The mission of this course, which has been made possible thanks to the sponsorship of the Vodafone Spain Foundation, is to offer a comprehensive introduction to inclusive mobile device design. It has been developed as an online self-training tool for the purpose of providing participants with the necessary tools and guidelines to test mobile devices for accessibility compliance.

This course is intended for mobile web and app developers, manufacturers, service providers, and the general public. It aims to explain the basic accessibility concepts, provide information about current international accessibility standards and provide a step by step guide to test mobile devices for accessibility and usability compliance.

Link to the course:

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VERITAS project on inclusive product development terminates

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After four years of extensive and intensive research the VERITAS project terminates. The consortium designed innovative tools for product development in many industrial areas from construction to computer games. The technical core of the VERITAS outcome is an Open Simulation Platform. This platform allows for studying the interaction of a virtual impaired user with virtual product models and to verify their accessibility early in the development process.

VERITAS is an example of application of age-friendly environments. In their so-called “Bauherrenkino” VERITAS partner Bauunion 1905 uses virtual technology to facilitate the interior planning process of family homes involving their clients in the customization process. With VERITAS Bauunion 1905 succeeds in offering an added value for their customers. In a first step towards the clients Bauherrenkino+ they are now able to experience their future family home interiors with the eyes of an aging person. This service is highly appreciated because prospective decisions related to ageing and accessibility have become essential for Bauunion clients in recent years.

For more information on the project achievements and exploitation plans you may read AGE's last newsletter available here:

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How to enjoy films when you are a blind person?

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 People with visual impairment access audiovisual productions through audio description. Nowadays, these users can access audio described films just in some cinemas where the equipment has been adapted accordingly. Synchronized sound has until now been achieved using special receptors and adaptations, both of which are expensive processes that meant many cinemas were reluctant to screen films with audio-description.

The application “AudescMobile”, available in Android and iOS, makes possible spreading the use of audio description so that users can access an audio-described movie in any cinema or TV where the movie is being shown using their own devices such as smartphones or tablets, moreover. There is no need for any additional devices.

This solution means a new approach in the way audio-description is being accessed these days, as it does not demand any collaboration from the cinema. The application’s innovation is that it is able to work with any platform, whether it’s a cinema screening, television, Internet or DVD.

AudescMobile gives an easy and omnipresent audio description that allows easy playback in a synchronized manner. The initiative is being promoted by the ONCE Foundation, in collaboration with the Vodafone Spain Foundation, and developed by SDOS. It represents an important turning point for the social integration of people with disabilities.


Link to Google Play:

Link to Apple Store:

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ZeroProject Conference 2014

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In february (27/18.2.2014)  the Zero Project Conferenc will be held in Vienna.

Here is a quote from the offical organisation comitee:

"Once again, the Essl Foundation, the World Future Council and the European Foundation Centre have joined forces to convene an international conference in Vienna, Austria. On this occasion we aim to raise awareness about innovative solutions from around the world that advance accessibility for persons with disabilities.  The conference seeks to strengthen the commitment of all stakeholders to promote, protect and advance the rights of persons with disabilities, and to improve their daily lives."

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Vodafone Foundation Mobile for Good Europe Awards 2013 Winners

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 Building on the success of the Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards 2011 and 2012, this year it was launched the Vodafone Foundation Mobile for Good Europe Awards 2013.

There were received over 200 apps and the Round 1 Judges selected the 12 finalists. The winners were announced at an evening event in Brussels on Thursday 5 December.

The winner was ColorADD, followed by MindTags and SimpleTweet. The first was awarded €30,000 prize money; whilst the second place position wined €15,000 and third place received €5,000.

More information about the finalists within Accessibility category:

Simple Tweet: A simplified Twitter client designed to meet the needs of users with low technical skills, visual or motor disabilities and older people. The application behaves in exactly the same way as any other Twitter client; however it has been redesigned to include special features, which allow universal access to this popular social network. Amongst its functionalities the user can send messages, manage followers, search for contacts and trending topics, lookup for mentions and resend tweets to their followers. Simple Tweet was developed by the Life Supporting Technologies group of the Universidad Politécncia de Madrid.

MindTags: enables the user to accurately place useful, editable near field communication tags at a place of interest and to retrieve the stored information by a simple touch. The information can instantly be displayed and/or spoken via a smartphone.

ColorADD: It is estimated that 350 million people are colour blind, around 10% of the worldwide male population. The ColorADD® Universal code has been designed to enable colour blind people to understand colours through a simple coding system. ColorADD ensures equal accessibility for all when colour is a factor of identification, orientation or choice.



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