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Research for people with disabilities
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Research in action

Around one in ten people in the European Union (EU) has a disability of some sort. Find out how Information Technology (IT) research promotes greater inclusion and accessibility for all members of society.

WAI-DA – Web accessibility initiative design-for-all

The proliferation of the Internet has been driven in part by its ease of access to millions of users around the world. But one section of society is being excluded. Worldwide there are over 750 million people – 50 million in Europe alone – with disabilities of some sort. The web offers a world of opportunity to people with disabilities to enhance socio-economic inclusion, so-called ‘eInclusion’. The WAI-DA project tackles this issue head on.

The aim of the project is to put the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) web accessibility initiative (WAI) into a European context, encouraging web developers to think in terms of ‘designfor- all’ concepts when they create sites. Web managers, policy-makers and public administrators are taught the benefits and functions of the WAI.

With EU support worth just under €400 000, the overall goal of the project is to promote the world recognised WAI guidelines to increase the accessibility of the Internet throughout the Union, starting with the design of web pages.

GUIDO – Mobility support system using advanced robotics and artificial intelligence

Older people with reduced mobility and impaired vision experience great difficulty getting around. This can lead to poor health for the person and rising healthcare and insurance costs for society. As the world’s first guided ‘walker’, GUIDO works like a walking frame but uses robotic technology to help older, visually impaired people regain a degree of independence, enjoyment and physical fitness.

This device uses laser and sonar sensors to scan its immediate environment and identify landmarks and obstacles. It then communicates these to the user via voice messages and through the steering. While the device is a highly sophisticated mechatronic system, it has simple, intuitive controls making it easy to learn how to use. It has attracted worldwide attention and won an award for its potential to improve the lifestyles of people with impaired vision and mobility.

Now marketed by the Irish-based firm, Haptica, the technology was developed with EU support by a team from Greece, Ireland, Sweden and the UK in consultation with users, carers and clinicians.



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