NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
Poznan, Wielkopolska, Poland, 2009/09/14 - Over the last ten years computers have become an essential part of our lives. Unfortunately, the disabled cannot make the most of the opportunities given by the computers as the software is ill-suited.
Focusing on the needs of the disabled in terms of access to information and telecommunication technologies aims not only at providing every citizen with adequate knowledge and information, but also a possibility to communicate efficiently with the surrounding world. Thanks to the Internet, people who are not able to fully enjoy particular activities because of their health condition may become more self-reliant and independent. The role which the Internet and other communication technologies play in the disabled vocational life animation is not to be overstated. According to the ITU Secretary General, Hamadoun I. Touré, only full availability of services for each and every computer user will result in a thoroughly developed “information society”.
Lack of solutions
In spite of numerous difficulties in determining the total number of the disabled as well as taking into account different regulations on what disability is in different EU countries, it is estimated that the disabled constitute 10% to 15% of the population. As the present technologies are not fitted to everyone, it is high time to create software which is in all respects rendered accessible to the disabled. A “disabled-friendly” interface providing efficient navigation and use of a particular application to the same extent as that of an able-bodied person seems to be the fundamental issue.
The field of application accessibility to persons with different types of disability requires much research and an introduction of new standards. The work initiated by Verax Systems aims at functionality increase as well as enabling the disabled to use particular applications to the same extent as the able-bodied.
Verax Systems is currently working on a R&D project on interfaces adapting applications to the disabled. The objective is to enable the use of Verax Systems eBanking Suite and other Verax Systems’ applications to people with all recognized types of disability by implementing adequate accessibility features.
In search of solutions
So far, one of the successes in this field is the integration of eBanking Suite with JAWS – a screen reader making various applications accessible to blind and visually impaired users. This solution significantly contributes to future creation of platforms which will bring about e-banking benefits for these users. The development of a special keyboard interface has also been accomplished, thanks to which it is possible to navigate through an application using the keyboard exclusively. Such an improvement helps people with mobility impairments to explore the application to the full potential without using a mouse.
Currently, Verax Systems’ work is focused on providing support for appliances used by people with mobility impairments, particularly for all kinds of head or mouth movement operated pointers and joysticks to enable cursor control. Intensive work is being carried out on a “Slow Keys” solution – a feature preventing multiple input resulting from a single, long keystroke. Much attention is also paid to touch-screen solutions and smooth screen-enlargement features.
Blind and visually impaired users
Solutions designed specifically for blind and visually impaired users are also being developed. A system converting spoken language into written text providing efficient and smooth application handling is of particular interest on the part of Verax Systems (veraxsystems.com).
Visually impaired users often prefer color inversion or black-and-white mode, which makes screen reading easier for them. Thus, color inversion options are becoming crucial. The essential issue is also to provide such solutions for as many applications as possible, so they are more accessible and useful for the disabled.
To meet the requirements of the disabled, Verax Systems intends to cooperate closely with them as consultants. The company also makes efforts to obtain EU funding for further research within the FP7. Involvement of the users of these solutions will surely advance the work and will result in optimal solutions in terms of usability.
Potential of the smaller ones
The experience of deploying technologies leveling the accessibility of electronic media by public institutions and government agendas calls to keep moderate optimism. The success of such a project should rather be seen in all kinds of bottom-up initiatives. Non-profit organizations and independent associations with the support of companies dealing with new technologies already seem to have much more of an innovative view on these issues. We can only hope that the enthusiasm, energy and commitment of particular NGOs and companies will bring us closer to a world where disability no longer means social isolation, including the everyday facilities of the “information era”.