"Removing barriers to modern technology in the information society"
Design for universal access is one of the most important topics in today's information society, globally and locally. It aspires to meet the needs of every individual and their special needs, vocational groups with specific needs or extreme working conditions, the needs of societies and cultures who wish to achieve better standards of living through IT facilitated productivity and the IT vendor who needs to maximise market uptake and enjoyment of products and services. Conversely, there is absolutely no point in developing more and more products and functions for less and less people.
Clearly the IT world is moving on. System designs can now be focussed upon groups of systems rather than a stereotypical persona of a user. Assistive technology provides for individuals with highly specific needs. The concept of Design for All encourages us to widen our vision for design. Universal access to technology promises to increase access through the deployment of four themes:
The future of universal access is likely to be based upon a complex combination of (a) culturally sensitive user centred system design (b) design for key subsets of people (c) customisation by individual preference (d) adaptable system which can take an individual's profile as a starting point (e) adaptive systems which respond and change in the face of an individual's performance with a system and (f) assistive technology for unmet special needs. That is where the work of CIRCUA focuses.
CIRCUA is dedicated to fundamental research and practical problem solving in universal access, including design for all, accessibility, adaptable systems, adaptive systems, social and cultural factors and cognitive user modelling. Our membership includes Middlesex University members ("UK members") and members in other locations ("International Members"). If you believe that you would benefit from membership of CIRCUA and could contribute to it, then we would invite you to become a member. There are no fees for membership and we are building an international community of expertise. We are also planning to submit one or more projects for the FP6 e-inclusion call of the EU, particularly in the areas including cognitive impairments. So we would be very keen to hear from you if you are interested in active collaboration.
planning a CA based around sharing best practice in ICT accessibility
promotion, awareness raising, education and assistance and would add
that this should be underpinned by ongoing research to understand
our needs for universal access and for the development of technological
Middlesex University at Cambridge
Middlesex University was responsible for organising and implementing an important, international workshop at Cambridge University this year. Conducting in cooperation with the international conference CWUAAT (Cambridge Workshop for Universal Access and Assistive Technology), it was organised for April 2006 by CIRCUA (Collaborative International Research Centre for Universal Access). CIRCUA was recently formed within the School of Computing Science at Middlesex and has been running for only two years.
This milestone event was called CIRCUA@ CWUAAT and was founded by Dr Ray Adams, Centre Head of CIRCUA and generated an international panel of experts in this field. The event began with a formal dinner at Churchill College, Cambridge, where Dr Adams is a member. Professor Colin Tully gave the Latin grace. The workshop continued the following morning with a facilitated working session on "Policy and Research for Universal Access to Ambient Intelligence and Ubiquitous Computing". Drs Ray Adams and Penny Duquenoy acted as facilitators, whilst Professor Tully ably chaired the event.
The distinguished, international panel included Professor Constantine Stephanidis (Greece), Professor Christian Stary (Austria), Professor Andrina Granic (Croatia), Dr Geoff Busby (BCS Disability Group), Simon Ball (TechDis, UK), Paul Redwin (DTI), Adam Balin (Cabinet Office), Colette Nicolle (Loughborough University), Mark Springett (Middlesex University), Suzette Keith (Middlesex University), and Dr Joy Goodman (Cambridge University).
result of this workshop, white papers are planned on emerging policy
and research issues in this important field. Further workshops are