The website is aimed at design students and their tutors, professional designers, design managers and policy makers. It has been developed to introduce newcomers to key concepts, examples and design/research methods, and to support practitioners in gathering together relevant information to build up their own collection of tools and techniques.
Posts in category 'Digital divide'
For instance, mobile phones are being used by homeless people to avoid the problems of not having a permanent address, leaving a mobile number on job applications. Medical results can be texted to the patient without someone else answering the phone. Elderly folk are playing chess with friends across the world. The report Inclusion Through innovation: Tackling Social Exclusion Through New Technologies shows other examples of how modern technology can improve public service take-up, reconnect the isolated and provide a lifeline for those groups on the margins.
The report, published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, argues that ‘excluded’ people already use technology extensively and that we need to build on this enthusiasm.
This spring–21 years after the Mac’s debut–Apple presented VoiceOver, an integrated screen reader that promises to shift expectations for how nonsighted users interact with a computer. Amid the hubbub surrounding the release of Tiger, the current version of Mac’s operating system, few in the press noted its existence–but in the accessibility world it was huge.
While the leading Windows screen-reading programs, such as JAWS, cost about $900, Apple began building a full-fledged reader into the operating system. VoiceOver refuses to abandon the graphical interface. Instead of stripping the text from its spatial situation, the program suggests how it looks on the screen by acknowledging the arrangement of windows and frames, and the difference between menus and content.
I sent the same message to the cabinet of the EU Commissioner in charge of Institutional Relations and Communications Strategy and yesterday I received a very thoughtful and to-the-point answer. I have nothing but praise for such willingness to provide personalised feedback to issues raised by EU citizens.
In the end, this approach will help raise the EU’s public profile, because people will share such positive experiences. I sincerely wish this EU team all the best in improving their communications and implement standardised guidelines.
The i2010 website has unfortunately not changed at all and remains an examples of how not be accessible and inclusive.
Below is the email from Rolf Annerberg, Head of Cabinet of Vice-President Margot Wallström, that I post here with his permission:
Dear Mr. Vanderbeeken,
Thank you for your message that you emailed to us on the 5th November.
I fully agree with you that much needs to be done to improve the European Union’s institutional communication with citizens.
Indeed the awareness that EU communication with citizens needs to be improved led the Barroso Commission to tackle this issue since it came into office a year ago and for the first time the Commission has elected a Vice President, Margot Wallström, to be responsible inter alia, for Communication.
On her initiative the Commission adopted on 20th July last an Action Plan on improving communicating Europe. You will find the full text of this action plan (cf. document SEC(2005)985) on EUROPA, the official website of the EU institutions, at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/press_communication/index_en.htm).
This action plan lists some 50 concrete measures which, based on three major principles: listening, communicating and connecting with citizens by “going local”, are currently being taken.
The overall aim of the Action Plan is to bring about a new, more citizen-oriented approach to communication throughout all Commission departments and to make sure that communication on the intentions of the Commission is fully integrated from the very start of the legislative process and throughout other Commission actions. And amongst the various actions listed in the Plan you will see the Commission’s commitment to communicate using a more user friendly language.
With regard to your comments on brand and communications consistency, I agree that this is an important challenge. In this context, standardised guidelines for internet communication have been established. These rules, that are currently being updated, are incorporated in what we call the Information Providers’ Guide (IPG).
Although we still have a long way to go, I am confident that, with the step-by-step approach so characteristic for European integration, we will be able to improve communications with citizens, also and not in the least thanks to the very useful and constructive feedback from people like yourself.
Advocates of such “Fab Labs” think they have the potential to vastly expand the creative powers of tinkerers and usher in a revolution in do-it-yourself design and manufacturing that can mpower even the smallest of communities.
“If you give people access to means to solve their own problems, it touches something very, very deep,” said Neil Gershenfeld, an MIT physicist and computer scientist whose is among the movement’s chief proponents. “Somehow it goes back to nest-building, or mastering your own environment.
On October 4th, the Minister for Communications, Mario Landolfi, issued a new decree which extended the availability of Wi-Fi — already being used in airports, train stations, shopping centers and city parks — to the whole country. [...]
”About 11 million Italians live in small towns and many of them do not have access to broadband because the investment required would not be economically viable for large companies,” said Landolfi at the press conference where the decree was announced. “This measure enables any providers, if they so wish, to reach customers who would otherwise be excluded.”
“Gary Elliot, the vice president of brand marketing for HP, talked about “Me-ism” in the US, the idea that form follows me today, that “me” is the center of the universe and companies have to work within that cultural context to success. Companies therefore have to partner with millions of “me-customers” to co-create products and services.
But the conference showed that companies must do the same thing in the “we-cultures” of India and the bottom of the pyramid countries. For political, economic and cultural reasons, they have to partner up with their customers to generate new products and services to sell to and with them. In fact, Patrick Whitney of the Institute of Design discussed how in Indian villages, consumers are invariably producers, that every household is invariably an entrepreneur, how consumer goods are used to produce things for sale. [...]
The high tech world of the web and the low-tech world of the village are somehow coming together to offer up a new vision for innovation, design and society in general.”
Update: Bruce Nussbaum had meanwhile some nice words to say about this blog. Thanks, Bruce.
The proceedings are now available online.
(The i2010 website, developed by the EU directorate general for Information Society and Media to promote inclusion, is unfortunately just about the opposite of accessibility and inclusivity. Why can’t the EU not learn lessons from the failed referendums this year? Why not communicate in a language that is people-centred rather than presenting a homepage where the introduction is in a series of downloads and the rest of the text is focused on a mysterious “Communication” which the EU has prepared? The EU vice-president Margot Wallstrom, who is since last year responsible for institutional relations and communications, should perhaps develop some basic EU communications standards. They are urgently needed.)
TiVos and Treos and BlackBerrys. Wi-Fi and HDTV and plasma screens. Picture phones, digital cameras, iPods and now iPod cell phones. Complexity among consumer technology products has never been greater — a good thing if the complexity means product improvement.
But Wharton experts say new bells and whistles pose challenges to businesses and consumers alike. Complexity — along with choice — can have a big impact on how firms make and market new and improved gizmos, and on the decision processes of the people expected to buy them.
Are we at a point, one commentator asks, where the next innovation will actually be the idea that ease of use is the most compelling feature of tech products?
(via Usability News)
That was the encouraging message to emerge from the third Include conference held at the Royal College of Art, 5-8 April 2005, which was attended by 170 delegates from 19 different countries (up from 14 in 2003).
In paper sessions, poster presentations, workshops, panel discussions and design stories, the mood was clear: business, the design profession and academia are all gearing up to create a more inclusive future in which empathy with users of all ages and abilities holds the key to commercial success and social equity.
An industry that barely existed 10 years ago is now worth $25 billion, he says. Prepaid air minutes are the preferred means of usage and have created their own $2 billion-a-year industry of small-time vendors, the Celtel chief says. Air minutes have even become a form of currency, transactable from phone to phone by text message, he says.
According to an expert panel made up of leading industry commentators to discuss the findings, vendors must focus on product design and ease of use, and not over complicate their offerings with unnecessary features.
From 1999 through 2004, the number of mobile subscribers in Africa jumped to 76.8 million, from 7.5 million, an average annual increase of 58 percent. South Africa, the continent’s richest nation, accounted for one-fifth of that growth.
Asia, the next fastest-expanding market, grew by an annual average of just 34 percent in that period.
Related: Guardian story (14 September 2005)
The speed converter technology slows down speakers’ voice speed up to 0.7x, so the listener can feel like that the speakers’ dialogue goes slowly. The technology does not slow down the voice part, but shortens the part without sound between phrases. When a time lag between the original voice and the converted voice exceeds one second, the function automatically stops.
DoCoMo also prepared a main menu screen exclusively designed for the handset. By reducing the number of menu items as well as using relatively large icons, screen operation became easier than before.
Other functions include a system to start an emergency alarm of about 80 dB and a pedometer.