Updated no 6 - 2018

News from Funka
Two people work on a computer. Photo

Content Management Systems that generate accessibility

Imagine if the tools used to create websites and intranets would have built-in accessibility from the beginning, how much easier life would be! Soon, it can be a reality. Funka has received funding from the European Commission for a project that will contribute to increased accessibility in content management systems.

Gavel and an EU flag. Photo

Have your say on the Web Accessibility Directive

Time to react: until 15th of June, there is a public hearing of the draft implementation acts of the Web Accessibility Directive monitoring methodology and model accessibility statement. Feedback is welcome!

A person with VR-glasses. Photo

Virtual Reality for increased knowledge about hidden disabilities

Hidden disabilities are often more difficult to understand and handle for the outside world, than physical impairments. Funka has received funding from Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency, to work on Virtual Reality experiences based on real stories from people with different disabilities. The aim is to develop training material that can contribute to an inclusive working life.

Seminar during M-enabling 2018. Photo

Mobile Accessibility and the UN Convention

In June each year, the G3ict arranges the M-Enabling Summit, in Washington. In the same week, the UN's annual Conference on State Parties to the Convention on Human Rights for People with Disabilities takes place in New York. Funka will contribute to both events.

A person check a box on a screen. Photo

e-democracy in focus in Norway

Funka was invited to present about our assignment on digital tools for citizen participation in Sandnes, Norway, where the Department on Municipalities and Modernisation held a two day conference.

Senior person listening to headphones. Photo

Accessibility as a key element enabling Active and Healthy Ageing

Accessibility features combined with digital transformation can contribute to improve the quality of life of older people, their inclusion and participation to the society. Funka addresses these issues in the project WE4AHA.

A boat in the archipelago. Photo

Make sure accessibility is afloat

Funka's CEO Susanna Laurin sees similarities between working with accessibility and taking care of a wooden boat. Both activities require patience and the results can make many people happy.

Three questions
Morten Hjelholt. Photo

Three questions for Morten Hjelholt, Associate Professor and Coordinator at the Design, Innovation and Digitalisation Research Group at IT University of Copenhagen

What is a digital citizen, as you describe in your recent book?

It is a rather new political figure in the welfare state, that has been around for the last 15-20 years. It has become somewhat of a new norm. This metaphor is created in politics expresses the expectations on what a citizen is in general, and specifically, that the citizen should be able to communicate digitally and by that also actively take part in society.

For instance: Since 2014, it is mandatory by Danish law to use Digital Post, a digital letter box provided by government to citizens and businesses for communications from and to public authorities. There is a long list of expectations and political arguments on what role the digitalisation should play. There is an ongoing acceleration, not just technically but also societal and at an individual level. The question is, how does individuals handle these new expectations in their daily lives?

How can we counteract that digitalization leads to exclusion of certain groups?

We have to acknowledge that digitalization also is a political project, not just technical or social. It is used to produce business models, presumptions for the future etc. Yet, we are constantly surprised by how political this issue is. Digitalisation is of course a great tool for modernisation, and a bureaucrat’s dream, in theory. But we have to counterargue that everything should be efficient, otherwise it never stops. Take emails for instance, it has hardly saved much money nor time resources. Digitalisation can of course be a good tool, but not the one and only wondertool.

We need better representation from vulnerable groups, but that could be hard to put into practice. Persons with cognitive losses for instance, who speaks for them? In Denmark, one could argue for being let off the Digital Post system, but it is a complicated process, and you are seen as somewhat malfunctioning if you cannot deal with the Digital Post like everyone else. Many try to get around the problem by getting help from relatives instead.

What would you say is the biggest challenge in terms of digital accessibility in society?

EU and other instances are trying to specify what needs to be there. But the problem is the practice, all nice paragraphs must be implemented for real, otherwise all hard work is in vain. The demands on accessibility and the ambitions to solve the problems are at risk to be overrun by the sake of efficiency. In the public sector, one must often line up to double standards – accessibility on one hand, and costs and efficiency on the other. But we need to find other ways to meet the demands but also save money.

Most importantly, we have to make sure that all that we do on the web make sense to end users. We have to start looking at things from the users perspective. We cannot just put plasters on something that is broken. We have to completely change mindsets.

The research community can help face the challenges by exposing their research more, and raise accessibility issues in society. It is an important and difficult task. In addition to that, we need to team up with NGOs and companies with similar interests.

To ensure that new digital solutions become truly accessible, we have to involve users much more, and much earlier. The needs of the users tend to disappear somewhere in the process of efficiency. We have to find ways to ensure that users always are top of mind.

Other news
A hand holding a smartphone. Photo

App to help people with an intellectual disability

Graduate research engineers at Trinity College Dublin have developed a new smartwatch and smartphone platform to help people with an intellectual disability to get from place to place by themselves more easily.

A blind person. Photo

How blind can ‘see’ images using AI

Thanks to a new face recognition service, blind users can now learn which friends are in photos, even those who haven’t been tagged by another user.

A robotic arm. Photo

A robotic arm restoring the sense of touch for amputees

An experimental research program at the University of Utah is helping amputees feel touch with the use of a complex robot arm. It's a breakthrough in the field of neuroprosthetics, allowing the human brain to use nerves to control an external object.

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Funka is the market leader in accessibility in Sweden. Our services cover website development, audits and user testing, on the web as well as in the built environment. Moreover, we provide training and support on all aspects of inclusive design. We are also active in research projects and standardisation. Everything we recommend has been tested in real life. We have offices in Stockholm, Oslo and Madrid.

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