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Updated no 2 - 2019

News from Funka
People in a business meeting. Photo

Funka Community is launched!

Do you want access to a lot of knowledge about web accessibility, laws and regulations? Do you want to ensure that you always have the right information and quickly get answers to questions about accessibility? Then the Funka Community is something for you.

Seminar during Funka Accessibility Days. Photo

Funka Accessibility Days 9-10 April

The most important conference of the year is soon here! We doubled the size of the venue to meet demand. Be sure to register now! Don’t miss the IAAP Nordic side event the day before the conference. There is a discount for participants who choose to participate in both events.

A person using a tablet. Photo

E-democracy at many levels

Recently, there has been a great focus on citizen dialogue in several countries. Funka has, among other things, looked at how accessible the different solutions are.

Seniors help each other with ICT. Photo

SeniorNet Sweden chooses Funka

With funding from the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency, SeniorNet Sweden will develop a supervisor training program in order for elderly people to learn more about IT. Funka has been commissioned to help with expertise in accessibility.

A disabled person using a tablet. Photo

Young people get tools to influence the accessibility issue

Increased independence and more influence for young people with disabilities are two of the goals for an exciting project that Funka participates in starting in February.

An old woman taking a selfie with a smartphone. Photo

Focus on elderly users

Funka's CEO Susanna Laurin reports from a debate in the European Parliament and international standardization that deals with the inclusion of elderly in IT development.

Three questions
Rudolph Brynn. Photo

Three questions to Rudolph Brynn, former project manager at Standard Norway, now at Norwegian company UUAS

Why is accessibility standardization important?

It is important to create concrete demands on how to implement the principle of accessibility in various areas, such as transport, vending machines, buildings and services. In a standard, only the very concrete, functional requirements apply. It is also important to remember that standards do not impose requirements on the use of certain technologies or solutions - it is a requirement for function - which solution one chooses to meet the requirement may vary.

In addition, standardization is important because it includes everyone involved in the area of the Technical Committee that develops the standard. It is only when you reach agreement and consensus among all committee members that the standard is approved. It is an important democratic principle for standardization and distinguishes the working method from, for example, guidelines from the public sector created by experts and bureaucrats, without any systematic participation by users - for example disability organizations - in the process.

In Europe, both within the EU and in the EES countries, it is currently even more important to work with standardization because the EU has commissioned the standardization bodies CEN, CENELEC and ETSI to support the new EU legislation on accessibility. It is possible to influence the work both at national and European level.

How does the Norwegian standardization work differ from other EU countries?

The work itself is the same in all countries, but in Norway it is free to participate, which means that we can ensure that interest groups participate actively. In other countries, for example Sweden, you pay participatory fees, which risks excluding groups that do not have resources.

In the area of accessibility, Norway has been able to invest heavily in accessibility and universal design with no less than 15 national standards. Among other things, we have had a great focus on services.

Another important difference is how to look at developing national and international standards. There are mainly three different models:

Either one begins in the international perspective, hoping to be able to influence the standard in dialogue with other countries. This option can make it more difficult to get broad national participation.

Or you start with a national standard that you then try to "sell in" to the European or international level. The problem with this model is that a national standard often reflects national conditions, and these can differ between countries, which means that the end result doesn’t always meet the expectations.

The third method is the one chosen by Norway. We develop national standards with broad participation and inform other countries about what is going on. We ensure that the standard is translated into English, which means that other countries can choose to implement it or that it can form the basis for a European or international standard. Within the EU, Norway is known for its many standards in universal design.

The last difference between Norway and other counties is that we use the concept of universal design in its original meaning, namely that everyone, as far as possible, should be able to use the main solution. Within the EU, the word accessibility has gained similar significance. This means a risk of confusion of concepts that affects how the UN Convention on Human Rights for persons with disabilities is interpreted.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a universally designed society?

It is still the case that most people do not understand that universal design is good for everyone. The fact that a pregnant woman, a parent with a pram, an elderly person or a young person with heavy luggage has the same pleasure from a universally designed society as a person in a wheelchair.

Instead, you focus on costs and claim that it is about "expensive special solutions". Strong forces want to "simplify" the legislation in the area, which often means that the requirements are weakened both in terms of quantity and quality. Therefore, we must repeat and emphasize once again that universal design is necessary for some but good for everyone. And absolutely crucial to ensure equal access to products and services.

How do you see that the Norwegian law will be changed and partly extended through the EU Web Accessibility Directive? How does it affect the individual?

I see it positively, the Norwegian regulatory framework reflects how the IT turnover looked like in 2009, even though the regulation came into force only in 2013. It refers to 10 standards, of which 3 are not standards without technical reports and the others focus on ergonomics. An expanded and updated law that also includes mobile applications is necessary. On the other hand, today's Norwegian law applies to both the public and private sectors.

I hope that will also be the case when we implement the European Web Accessibility Directivre in 2019.

I also hope that the revised legislation will refer to more updated standards. For individuals, it is positive that you get equal access to all web sites regardless of country borders!

Other news
View over a densely populated city. Photo

Innovation is the key to smarter cities

The Smart Cities for All global initiative is a collaboration between G3ict and World Enabled, two non-profit organisations with a history of leadership in inclusive, accessible design. The initiative recently launched a new project, Inclusive Innovation for Smarter Cities.

Person attaching electrodes to another person’s head. Photo

How IBM is adapting mind-control for accessibility

IBM Research has developed a method of controlling a robotic arm with a brain-computer interface built using an EEG monitor, thus enabling persons with motor disabilities operating tech gadgets using mind-control.

Screenshot of the Route4U app on a mobile phone. Photo

New initiative uses smartphones to improve navigation for wheelchair users

The Irish app Route4U are using compiled data on for example footpath obstacles, surface quality and kerb heights, to provide route planning and turn-by-turn navigation for wheelchair users, making pathways more accessible.

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