4 How to Prepare for an Inclusive Future: Identifying Enablers for Upcoming Interaction Technologies
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Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have the potential of facilitating the lives of most users, including elderly and disabled people. There is, however, a number of frequently-observed ...
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have the potential of facilitating the lives of most users, including elderly and disabled people. There is, however, a number of frequently-observed obstacles to the accessibility of ICT devices and services. Experience consistently shows that user-interface innovations for consumer products are being researched and developed without taking into account the needs of people with mild or severe impairments such as elderly people. Many companies do not see a business case in offering barrier-free products. This situation is not helped by the fact that product and service developers can be unaware of the requirements of customers with impairments and therefore lack the insight into appropriate design solutions that may not be very demanding in terms of R&D and production costs. For most user-interface design challenges a number of different solutions exist today that are particularly suitable for different user groups. Successful user-interface design encompasses the selection and combination of those user-interface modalities with the goal of supporting the most diverse user community possible. One obvious solution has traditionally been to offer personalisation features to be employed by the users to adapt the user interface to their specific requirements. For example, most mobile phones allow the selection of individual ringer tones and display backgrounds to adapt frequency range and visual contrast to the user’s needs. Some manufacturers offer user profiles for specific user groups such as senior citizens that affect a number of device settings. There are, however, limits to the extent to which personalisation of this type increases accessibility. ETSI, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, has established a Specialist Task Force (STF) 377 on “Inclusive eServices for all: Optimizing the accessibility and use of upcoming user interaction technology”1 . The aim of this working group is to systematically evaluate ongoing and forthcoming interaction technologies to sketch a 10-year roadmap of foreseen technological enablers. Without such early involvement into the research and development, there is a risk that large groups in quickly aging societies will be left behind, not participating from the anticipated technology progress. This paper presents the STF’s motivation and approach on forecasting, analysing and structuring future interaction-technology developments as well as first results of the expected access techniques foreseen for these novel systems.
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