International Conference on Universal Design and ICT - 08.05.2008

The conference "A European Perspective on Research and Development Challenges in Universal Design and ICT" was arranged by The Norwegian Resource Network for Universal Design and was held on the 8th of May. The aim was to create a forum for discussing and initiating research and development projects in the field of Universal Design and ICT.

Skrevet av: - 09.05.2008

The conference brought together organizations, commercial enterprises, educating bodies and research institutes, to discuss and present possible projects in the following areas:

  • Standardization, Privacy and Security issues
  • Open Source and Open standards
  • Technology and Self-service society - Public services and AAL (Ambient Assisted Living)
  • User Interfaces and Services: Flexibility, complexity and multimodality
Organizations outside the established network were able to participate, and the audience expressed inspiration for further co-operation with regard to future applications for Universal Design and ICT projects.

Dr. Klaus Miesenberger from Linz University (Austria) opened the conference, talking about Design for all challenges of the past and in the future. Dr. Miesenberger focused on the challenge of conveying the ICT/AT potential to developers, as well as ncreasing their awareness. The opportunities of “the silver market” and emerging technologies, and the importance of educating in Universal Design (interfacing the interface) in the self-service society were his main points.

Similar challenges had been considered at the National seminar on ICT and Universal Design, hosted by the Resource Network in November 2007. Dr. Miesenberger’s views gave input to further reflection on Universal Design, AT and ICT, showing the common European challenges in promoting Universal Design principles, and the need to define how to understand and implement these principles in practice. Kim Davis’s (Norwegian Research Council) update on ongoing research programs and funding opportunities also showed the united European efforts in Universal Design as a means to overcome the challenges of aging, independent living and health management in a technological society, within transport, and in the move towards more embedded , automated and pervasive self-service systems and services. Clas Torén’s (Verva) talk on the work with international standardization related to challenges in the field of ICT and Universal Design, spurred further debate on the issue of interpreting and measuring Universal Design within the field, both the applicability of standards versus the use of guidelines, and ensuring Universal Design conformity in products and services.

Torén focused in particular on the conformity assessment problem in his speech, and outlined current work on European accessibility requirements for public procurement of products and services in the ICT domain. Interesting issues influencing the possibility of inspection of conformity was presented. His work on defining guidance and support material for public procurements was applauded.

Finally, Rudolph Brynn from the Norwegian National Documentation Centre presented information on the current situation in Norway for disabled and the use of ICT. He revealed that knowledge of the actual use of, and access to, electronic services for disabled is still limited. More is known about elderly people’s use of ICT, which can yield some relevant information on barriers. Generally, there is a need for more holistic solutions when ICT is used for public services, as well as making information and Internet services accessible for all, Brynn says.

Brynn put forward two other areas where analyses are needed: One is on access to information and specifically on the consequences of Open Source Code for disabled people – will it ensure the same degree of accessibility? The other is a need for analysis of the extent of/lack of accessible workplaces and education, with a particular focus on ICT related employment and ICT barriers. Neatly, Brynn’s perspectives on where research effort is needed could be tied to the previous presentations and discussions: He spoke of the need for simpler solutions, more standardisation and indicators to evaluate whether the intentions of inclusion are fulfilled.


The presentations may be downloaded here: