Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

09. Access and digital ability: building a barrier-free digital society

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Room E (Autoworld, 1st floor), 16/06/2011 (10:00-13:30)

The focus of the workshop will be on shaping and co-creating a barrier-free digital Europe by people with disabilities themselves, addressing the relevant policy, technology, innovation and cooperation perspectives.

Particular attention will be paid to web accessibility for public and private online services.

Other aspects will be also addressed such as accessibility for audio-visual content, ICT-based mobility assistance, cloud-based and dynamically personalised interfaces.


08:00 – 10:00 : Registration & Coffee

Rapporteurs: Gianna Tsakou (Singular Logic), Gerhard Weber (Technical University of Dresden), Giovanni Padovani (EDF Youth Committee)


Chair: Eric Velleman

10:00 – 10:10 : Puting the user in the center for services - Myriam Corral

10:10 – 10:20 : Users supporting web accessibility - Gail Bradbrook

10:20 – 10:30 : Service provision model for Inclusive e-Government -Alejandro Echeverria

10:30 – 10:40 : Accessible Web Authoring and Authoring for Web Accessibility - Abou-Zahra Shadi

10:40 – 11:00 : Accessible on-line documents and editorial chain - Kiran Kaja and James Thurston

11:00 – 11:10 : Users in policy making for web accessibility - Javier Guemes

11:10 – 11:30 : Discussion and conclusions I

11:30 – 12:00 : Networking coffee-break


Chair: Rodolfo Cattani

12:00 – 12:10 : Accessibility of AV content and containers - Peter Looms

12:10 – 12:20 : DTV Industry dialogue with user organisations - Frank Kamperman

12:20 – 12:30 : Users contributing to innovative live web casting - Mia Ahlgren

12:30 – 12:40 : Students annotating course transcripts - Mike Wald

12:40 – 12:50 : Users making accessibility-aware maps - Raúl Krauthausen

12:50 – 13:00 : Dynamically available AT and personalisation - Jutta Treviranus

13:00 – 13:30 : Discussion and conclusions II

Conclusions will be presented by rapporteur at the afternoon plenary session.

Workshop links and documents

Workshop results

Session organiser: François JUNIQUE (EC - DG Information Society & Media, Unit "ICT for Inclusion", Belgium)

Chair: Eric VELLEMAN (The Accessibility Foundation, Netherlands), Rodolfo CATTANI (European Disability Forum, Belgium)

Workshop hashtag


Featured participants

Eric VELLEMAN (Accessibility Foundation, Netherlands), Chair Session I : Web Accessibility
Myriam CORRAL (Economy and Finance Ministry, Spain), Put User in the centre for Services

Returning Europe to the top in innovation leads to be a corporate objective of the last 20 years. Digital agenda states that "specific actions to be taken is to work with stakeholders to develop a new generation of web based applications and services, […] through support open standards and platforms through programs funded by the EU. " The main changes in today´s society are due to the widespread use of Internet. Our behaviour is getting more and more online and we are demanding more and better online services. It is necessary to provide access for all regardless of disability. Contemplating accessibility is not just a question of applying accessibility guidelines to web pages. It is more about design services with the user at the centre. That is user centricity. Thinking of whom services are for is the only way to meet expectations. “Putting the user in the centre for services: A reference Model” illustrates how to have user-centric vision of services architecture and how this new concept of user-centricity can be the driver for next generation Web services architecture. The idea is to follow the process approach we have seen successfully followed in manufacturing industries with the standardization of their business language, Rosetta Net, and empower the user as the only way to ensure that (s)he gets the service (s)he needs, in timely and useful manner. A life event approach is a user centred approach.

Gail BRADBROOK (Citizens Online, Strategy and innovation, United Kingdom), Users supporting web accessibility

Fix the Web is an innovation to “crowdsource” web accessibility. The online system enables disabled people (and older) to report accessibility issues in under 60 seconds (using twitter, email, a form or the “ATbar”). Volunteers then check the issues and take them up with website owners, taking the burden and isolation from disabled people.

Since its launch in mid November 2010 it has had a number of successes in raising awareness of the issue.

Up to date stats are kept on and at the time of writing (June 9th) there are 523 volunteers and 149 reporters; 679 sites have been reported, 286 are in progress with a further 47 sites being fixed, 138 owners having been informed of issues and 78 saying they are now aware and working towards a solution. PR calls to action is key to the success of the project and NT have had a mention in the main articles (BBC Tech homepage, Radio 4).There have been 1752 tweets about the project (we have been a “top tweet” twice) and around 250 pieces of coverage both online and in print media. Stephen Fry, a very well known UK celebrity is backing the campaign.

Fix the Web aims to change culture around web accessibility, it is not a name and shame campaign, but a way of developing a greater understanding of issues and encouragement to improve. We aim to get around 250,000 sites reported in two years with 10,000 volunteers needed to process this. The focus is on the UK in the short term whilst the concept is developed.

Alejandro ECHEVERRIA (Quart de Poblet, DIEGO Project, Spain), Service provision model for Inclusive e-Government

How the local council of Quart de Poblet (30.000 inhabitants - Valencian Community - Spain) has integrated “accessibility” and “inclusion” to its e-Government services: breaking down the digital divide through e-Government; reusing pre-existing Investments in order to raise awareness and to engage citizens (Public Sector Information, infrastructure of kiosks and TVs); accessibility benefits ALL CITIZENS, multichannel (availability of alternatives to access e-Gov to citizens is also Accessibility); “integrating” inclusive e-Gov services in the Public Services Portfolio for Sustainability.

Shadi ABOU-ZAHRA (W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)), Accessible Web Authoring and Authoring for Web Accessibility

The Web has become a central part of our daily interaction and

communication, both at the workspace and beyond. We consume, generate,

and interact with web content, often seamlessly and without

distinguishing it from other content and applications. Particularly

generating web content, including blogs, pictures, and videos has become

increasingly simple on mobile phones, cameras, and other gadgets.

Ensuring that this rapidly growing volume of user generated content is

accessible for people with disabilities seems like a daunting task.

However, there are untapped potentials in the underlying applications to

support the production of content that is more usable for everyone. This

presentation will outline some of the shared benefits and incentives for

developers to provide tools that support accessible web authoring, and

for users to author for web accessibility.

Kiran KAJA (Adobe Systems, Corporate Accessibility, United Kingdom), Accessible on-line documents and editorial chain
James THURSTON (Microsoft, Trustworthy Computing Group), Accessible on-line documents and editorial chain

Rapidly evolving technology continues to redefine the workplace, the community, and social interaction. These changes place an ever greater value on communication, collaboration, and information. To achieve real social and digital inclusion, individuals and organizations of all kinds must make information and its benefits accessible to the largest possible number of people—regardless of age or ability. The tools and practices exist today to make content both accessible and broadly available. Unfortunately, many people do not know how simple and powerful it is to create accessible content. Lack of awareness is one of the biggest challenges we face in promoting web accessibility in particular. To meet that challenge, Microsoft is developing a comprehensive set of tools to help promote greater accessibility awareness and make it easier for everyone to make information accessible.

Peter Olaf LOOMS (Looms Consulting, Denmark), Accessibility of AV content and containers

Using examples from digital television, this presentation deals with the accessibility of audiovisual content. It covers the nature of the demographic challenge, the kinds of problems facing viewers (improving the programmes themselves, adding access services, making it easier to find programmes in programme guides), the approaches currently being followed (delivering subtitles, audio description, spoken subtitles and signing on mainstream TV sets rather than needing special assistive technologies) and the major barriers (a lack of awareness of the issues among all stakeholders, the lack of key technologies and sustainable business models) to making audiovisual content accessible to all.

Frank KAMPERMAN (Philips Consumer Lifestyle, Netherlands), DTV Industry dialogue with user organisations

Steps consumer electronics manufacturers have taken and are taking to support the roll out of access: The rise of digital television presented many opportunities as well as barriers for accessibility that need to be tackled by a joint effort of governments, manufacturers and broadcasters. The first phase of cooperation already lead to real products on the market with improved accessibility. Audio description and subtitling services are also enabled, but the content needs to be included in the TV programme. To this end, broadcasters and content providers have to be stimulated to provide accessible content. In the current phase of cooperation text to speech functionality is addressed to allow consumers using a speech interface to have access to similar information as with a graphical user interface.

Furthermore, fragmentation and lack of economies of scale are also outstanding issues which need to be tackled on a European level. This will also allow users to fully benefit the possible new accessibility services of emerging technologies such as Hybrid (Connected) TVs.

Mia AHLGREN (The Swedish Disability Federation, Sweden), Users contributing to innovative live web casting

A small public investment with direct benefits for the users might lead to innovative cost-effective open solutions when the users – in this case a Disability NGO - are initiating the process. In 2010 there were general elections in Sweden. The Swedish Disability Federation decided to invite a bigger audience to participate in seminars with politicians through live web casts. Members with hearing impairments were involved from the start when we purchased the services from a creative entrepreneur in order to improve accessibility. The achievements soon exceeded our expectations and budget so the Post and Telecom Agency came up with funding in return for documentation and open solutions for further development. Several accessibility improvements for live web casts were made: live closed captions, live closed signing and the possibility to decide the size and position of the interpreter, remote captioning and signing.

Raul KRAUTHAUSEN (SOZIALHELDEN e.V., Germany), Users making accessibility-aware maps

Mapping for a Social Cause:

1,6 million people require a wheelchair in Germany. Worldwide, the number of wheelchair users is aroud 185 million. All of them want to participate in public life. The most important question for these people is: can I access this specific location? is an online map which is specialised on this question. Since September 2010 everyone can find these places and add them to the map. There are also shown places which are limited accessible or even not accessible, which is a crucial information for the users.

The map data come from OpenStreetMap and each new entry on will become part of OpenStreetMap’s database. In addition to the website there is a free iPhone App available. More than 20.000 data sets could be collected since the launch. Some hundred new entries are being added each day.

On the one hand, provides people with useful information for orientation. On the other hand, the project wants to motivate owners of locations to rethink and to work on their wheelchair suitability.

Wheelmap is a project initiated by SOZIALHELDEN, a young and creative group of change makers, which has developed a couple of social projects since 2004.

Jutta TREVIRANUS (OCAD University, Inclusive Design Research Centre, Canada), Dynamically available AT and personalisation

Digital exclusion has sobering economic and social consequences for the excluded individual and society as a whole. To participate in education, employment, civic engagement, culture, recreation, social activities, commerce, and almost all activities of daily living today, involves access to online technologies. The systems in place to mitigate digital exclusion for individuals with disabilities, including assistive technologies, special services to provide training and funding and legislation, are failing. There is a growing chasm for anyone not able to use standard digital services and tools. We need a radically new approach. A global consortium is working to create an open worldwide infrastructure that will provide one-size-fits-one, personalized digital access, anywhere, any time, by harnessing the potential of cloud technologies and online communities.

Rodolfo CATTANI (European Disability Forum, Belgium), Chair Session II : AV and other e-Accessibilities
Mike WALD (University of Southampton, United Kingdom), Students annotating course transcripts

Professional manual captioning is time consuming and therefore expensive. Automatic captioning is possible using speech recognition technologies but this results in recognition errors requiring manual correction. A new approach developed from the award winning Synote annotation system and that uses crowdsourcing correction of speech recognition captioning errors can provide a sustainable method of making audio or video recordings accessible to people who find it difficult to understand speech through hearing alone.

Javier GUEMES (European Disability Forum, Belgium), Users in policy making for web accessibility

Set up in 1996 by its member organizations, the European Disability Forum (EDF) is the leading European NGO run by persons with disabilities and parents of disabled people unable to represent themselves at European level. EDF voices the concerns of all the 80 million citizens living with a disability in Europe. Based on its unique expertise on disability, EDF is involved in a number of actions covering e-inclusion and e-accessibility to promote the inclusion and participation of disabled people in society via accessible information and communication technologies. And EDF continues its mission: to support the policy developments foreseen under the Digital Agenda for Europe and the European Disability Strategy 2010-20: jointly with AGE Platform, ANEC and EBU, EDF calls on the European Commission to initiate binding legislation to ensure access to public sector websites and websites providing basic services to citizens. To this end, we actively contribute to this with concrete proposals.

Last updated on 25/09/2012