University of Linz
Including Sensor Technology in AT Solutions for People with Motor Disabilities
This talk will outline the potential of sensor technology for people with disabilities and those people with motor disabilities in particular. First we describe how people with disabilities interact with the environment using specialized Assistive Technologies (AT) to interface modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT) via the standardized Human-Computer Interface (HCI). It discusses the state of the art and emerging sensor technology and how it enhances the potential of AT facilitated interaction with ICT/HCI regarding two domains: a) Sensor technology embedded in the environment providing flexible and adaptable means of interaction and b) sensor technology for better, more flexible and efficient application of skills of people with disabilities as AT solutions.
Based on this analysis it advocates for changing AT practice in terms of assessment and service provision but also R&D to recognize the extended potential provided by sensor technology to exploit so far unused or neglected skills of users. It underlines the need to make AT solutions more flexible, adaptable and affordable. It argues, in view of the potential of sensor technology, that there is an increasing need for an efficient software framework allowing an easy integration of sensor technology into AT solutions or even individual AT service provision.
Finally the AsTeRICS framework will be presented as an example of an extendable AT construction set for an open source and crowed sourcing approach for a more user-centered, easy, fast and economic implementation of sensor based or sensor enhanced AT solutions.
Klaus Miesenberger is vize Head of Institute Integriert Studieren at the University of Linz, Austria. He has a background compute science and economics. He is responsible for R&D and teaching at the institute which also runs a service centre for students with disabilities. In 2000 he was guest professor at the Université Claude Bernard, Lyon II. He teaches at different Austrian universities and teacher training academies. In 2001 he got his professorship (venia docendi) in Human-Computer Interaction with a focus on HCI for People with Disabilities. His research and teaching work is related to ICT based Assistive Technologies, eAccessibility and Design for All. He has been involved in more than 80 national and international R&D projects in these fields. His work is documented in more than 140 peer-reviewed publications.
He chairs the working group Computer Science with/for People with Special Needs“ of the Austrian Computer Society. He acts as the organising and publishing chair of ICCHP (International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs) and is involved in many other scientific committees of conferences and journals such as like ACM TACCESS, Universal Access in the Information Society (Springer), Technology and Disability (IOS Press), Journal of Assistive Technologies (Emerald). He is member of the scientific and professional societies ACM (SIGAccess), IFIP, (working group 13.3, HCI and People with Special Needs), OCG and AAATE. He is founder and chair of the association BookAccess responsible for accessibility of school books in Austria. He is the founder and the chair of the international association “International Computer Camps”, organising annual computer training events for young blind and visually handicapped students. More than 2000 blind and visually handicapped students from more than 30 countries took part in these events since 1993. He is co-founder of the association UNIABILITY, the organisation of professional counsellors for students with disabilities or chronic diseases at universities in Austria. He acts as the managing director of National Contact Point for EDeAN (European Design for All e-Accessibility Network). He is one of the founders of the Austrian association Accessible Media working on the take-up of eAccessibility in Austria. He is the scientific co-ordinator for two University distance learning courses, both four semesters: “bfwd: Barrier Free Web Design” and “assistec: Assistive Technologies”. He set up and chairs the Regional Competence Centre IT for People with disabilities (KI-I) for the Regional Government Upper Austria. He is Past-President of the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE).
Institute of Applied Physics
Universal Access and Universal Design in eInclusion
It is presently accepted, both at the technical and political levels, that the industrial society is becoming an Information Society (normally described as an “Ambient Intelligence Environment”), as an effect of the fusion of information technology, telecommunication and media industries. Due to the complexity of the emerging environment, the traditional approach to inclusion based on granting accessibility to ICT systems and services using Assistive Technology products has shown many limitations. In order to grant Universal Access to the Information Society, i.e. a right of all citizens, more general and systematic approaches, as Universal Design, i.e. one of the approaches to guarantee it, are now considered necessary.
Universal Access in ICT (Information and Communication Technology) implies that all citizens have the right to be granted availability of information, communication and environmental control in the Information Society and, when necessary and possible, to be supported by ICT for achieving their goals in all environments. In Europe, this concept (with the name e-Inclusion) is already accepted at the political: “e-Inclusion” means both inclusive ICT and the use of ICT to achieve wider inclusion objectives. It focuses on participation of all individuals and communities in all aspects of the information society……” (Excerpt from Pt. 4 Ministerial Declaration Approved Unanimously on 11 June 2006, Riga).
Design methodologies for granting this very general right need to be identified. Universal Design (Design for All in Europe) is a possible methodology, and, at least in short or medium term, it will probably coexist with other approaches, as the one based on Assistive Technology. However, it is important to realise that accessibility to services and systems in not enough, but the Universal Access concept entails the right of use of all information, communication and environmental control facilities and includes the explicit support by services made available on the network.
Universal Design is a well-defined knowledge corpus at the conceptual level, which in architecture and industrial design has produced very important results. It essentially claims as necessary that the specifications of new systems and services are produced taking into account the abilities, requirements and preferences of all potential users. In ICT, the adoption of Universal Design still raises important technical challenges, due to the well-established industrial practice of designing for the “average or typical user” and to real technological difficulties.
At the level of technical approaches, a comparison must be made between rights (Universal Access) and design methodologies (i.e. Universal Design) from one side and the technical feasibility of the solutions from the other. When a Universal Design methodology is considered, two technical approaches are mainly considered. In architecture, where the methodology has been introduced, the final product is, for example, a single building and guidelines have been produced for designing it to be accessible to all people. In some limited environments, the production of guidelines for products accessible by all is possible in ICT as well, as in the case of WAI WCAG, using which a single Web site can be developed that allows exploration of information by people with different abilities.
However, in ICT systems and services are so many and so different that it is impossible, for example, to define a human system interface that can be used with all systems and services, by all users and in all contexts of use. Therefore, Universal Design should not be conceived as an effort to advance a single solution for everybody, but as a user-centred approach to providing products that can automatically address the possible range of human abilities, skills, requirements, and preferences. Consequently, the outcome of the design process is not intended to be a singular design, but a design space populated with appropriate alternatives. The different alternatives must be able to manifest themselves automatically (adaptability and adaptivity) as a function of the user’s abilities, the way of usage and the context of use. This has been shown possible at the implementation level, because in ICT systems and services are (or at least could be) “intelligent”. Therefore, they can “reason” on how to behave with different users and in different application environments.
Pier Luigi Emiliani is Associate Research Director in the Institute of Applied Physics “Nello Carrara” (IFAC) Of the National Research Council of Italy. In CNR, he has been: Head of the “Signal Processing” Department, Institute of Research on Electromagnetic Waves (IROE) (1995-1997); Director of the Institute of Research on Electromagnetic Waves “Nello Carrara” (IROE) (1997-2002); Director of Institute of Applied Physics – “Nello Carrara” (IFAC (2002-2008); President of the CNR Research Area in Florence (2002-2008). He has carried research in the theory and applications of digital signal processing and information technology and in their application in telecommunications, biomedicine and eInclusion. He has been lecturer on signal processing at the University of Florence (Electronics Engineering Department) and has managed many research projects on eInclusion at the national and European levels. He is (co-)author of over 180 technical papers published in scientific archival journals, books, and international conferences on speech processing, signal processing and eInclusion.
Modelling of User Preferences for Accessibility (MUP4A)
In our everyday life we use a variety of gadgets and information systems, especially electronic devices offering a variety of user interfaces e.g. web-based user interfaces. We cannot imagine a single day without a mobile phone, TV or a computer. These devices and systems have huge potential to help people to engage with society and their surroundings. However the enormous number of features often turns overwhelming for users in general, and especially for older people or people with disabilities, and may make devices and systems unusable. At present there is no way of choosing appropriate accessibility options for different users and media, except on a case by case analysis, which is not a scalable approach. In a world where new devices and services are dominating our lives though smart environment technologies, ensuring inclusiveness and accessibility of such products and services is of outmost importance.
User modelling can offer a strong foundation to overcome such problems by providing a way of choosing/adapting/personalizing appropriate features or services based on the user’s characteristics and preferences and the context of use.These models can be considered semantic representations of a user, including her needs, preferences as well as physical, cognitive and behavioural characteristics. Due to the wide range of applications, it was difficult to have a common format or even definition of user models. The lack of a common definition also makes different user models – even if being developed for the same purpose – incompatible to each other. It does not only reduce portability of user models but also restricts new models to leverage benefit from earlier research in a similar field.
More specifically in the accessibility domain there have been a number of approaches and cases where user modelling has been used to help enhancing accessibility. Such cases include virtual user modelling used for simulations in inclusive product design, preferences modelling for adapting web 2.0 applications , various adaptive and personalized information systems adapting their interface modality to suit user needs, etc.
Figure 1: VICON Virtual USER using a virtual prototype of a washing machine
In the EU-funded project VICON (See Figure 1) and VUMS a cluster of projects related to virtual user models, we have created a harmonized user model suitable for adaptive settings and simulation of user interfaces. The main aim of VICON was to allow testing of virtual prototypes with virtual users at early stages of product design as a complement to user testing of physical mock-ups and prototypes. Physical mock-ups can only be built when sufficient design details are available. As a result, user tests often take place at an relatively late stage in the design process, when tooling may have even started already. At this stage of the development process, correcting accessibility and usability issues and making changes to the product will result in significant time delays and increased development costs. Often, it is too late to change the product at all and thus, accessibility, usability and safety aspects are diminished. By conducting accessibility and usability studies with tools like the VICON framework it will be more likely that the requirements of the future user population is appropriately considered in the early, digital stage of the development process, the number of costly follow-up design corrections will be greatly reduced.
In the EU-funded project i2web, we have developed a set of semantic models for user preferences and device characteristics, which combined with a research on typical application models for web 2.0 services and strategies that users with special needs employ to access those services, allows dynamic adaptation of user interfaces. Not only that, we have also extended accessibility testing tools to provide web developers with information on the adaptability of their applications.
Yehya Mohamad has a diploma degree in computer science (Technical University of Berlin) and a PhD in computer science (Technical University of Aachen). He is currently a senior researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology in the Web Compliance Center (WebCC). WebCC supports customers in designing and implementing barrier-free Web sites, Training to industry and interested actors in the field of e-accessibility, development and commercialization of software tools like imergo an automatic accessibility evaluation tool, biofeedback systems that detect emotional state and stress level.
Since 1987, Dr. Mohamad has held several positions in industry and research centers. Key working areas include: systems analysis, software development, human computer interaction and web technologies. Dr. Mohamad is teaching accessibility and nursing informatics since 2006 at the protestant applied science university Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe, additionally he taught a course as guest professor at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) in the winter semesters 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Dr. Mohamad is an active member of the W3C WAI Research and Development Working Group (RDWG).
Dr. Mohamad was involved in many German and European R&D projects on accessibility and information systems for disabled persons at managerial, design and development level e.g. HearCom , EU4ALL , IDCnet , IPCA , ABC , eAccess+ , VICON and WebDA
Dyslexia: What have we Learned so far?
Around 10% of the worldwide population has dyslexia, a reading disability that negatively affects a person’s ability to read and comprehend texts. The symptoms are well known, the way to alleviate them are not. In this talk we first speculate that part of the problem might be caused by a different representation of words or that due to this disability the representation of words becomes different. Second, we show how the presentation of a text impacts people with dyslexia, based on several eye-tracking studies. As a result of them, we propose a set of guidelines that help people with dyslexia to read better. Third, we show that text simplification also helps, but not by simplifying the text, rather by presenting alternative synonyms to complex words if the person demands them. Finally, we present how of these research results are used in reading tools. As there is evidence that dyslexic-related difficulties do not only overlap with the ones of other groups with special needs but also appear among most people with varying degrees, these results improve may text accessibility in general. This is joint work mainly done by Luz Rello as part of her PhD thesis, as well as with Horacio Saggion and other colleagues.
Ricardo Baeza-Yates is VP of Yahoo! Research for Europe and Latin America, leading the labs at Barcelona, Spain and Santiago, Chile, since 2006. He is also part time Professor at the Dept. of Information and Communication Technologies of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, since 2005. Until 2005 he was Professor and Director of the Center for Web Research at the Department of Computer Science of the Engineering School of the University of Chile. He obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo, Canada, in 1989. Before he obtained two masters (M.Sc. CS & M.Eng. EE) and the electrical engineering degree from the University of Chile, Santiago. He is co-author of the best-seller Modern Information Retrieval textbook, published in 1999 by Addison-Wesley with a second enlarged edition in 2011, as well as co-author of the 2nd edition of the Handbook of Algorithms and Data Structures, Addison-Wesley, 1991; and co-editor of Information
Retrieval: Algorithms and Data Structures, Prentice-Hall, 1992, among more than 300 other publications. He has received the Organization of American States award for young researchers in exact sciences (1993) and the CLEI Latin American distinction for contributions to CS in the region (2009). In 2003 he was the first computer scientist to be elected to the Chilean Academy of Sciences. During 2007 he was awarded the Graham Medal for innovation in computing, given by the University of Waterloo to distinguished ex-alumni. In 2009 he was named ACM Fellow and in 2011 IEEE Fellow.
Further Keynote Speakers will be announced soon.