Nov 042017
 

Cover of research publication by AMADEUSSPeople with access needs still face numerous barriers when traveling locally and abroad.  However existing and emerging technologies are crucial to making the process more accessible, research claims.

The recent study, ‘Voyage of discovery: Working towards inclusive and accessible travel for all’, was commissioned by travel technology consulting firm Amadeus and carried out by Ilunion, a consulting firm owned by ONCE, the Spanish National Organisation of the Blind.

The new report found that while advancing technologies such as voice recognition, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are being used by some companies and hotels to make travel more inclusive, website accessibility and use of mobile devices – for tasks such as managing bookings – are still fundamental for travellers with access needs.

The study looks at the requirements and first-hand experiences of travellers with access needs and explores how ‘the travel experience and customer journey’ can be made more accessible by examining three stages of the process: ‘The pre-travel stage: what happens before the trip’, ‘In transit: what happens on the journey’ and ‘In destination: what happens upon arrival’.

Results are based on responses from focus groups and interviews with consumer travellers and industry experts, featuring contributions from people with “visual, hearing, cognitive and physical disabilities,” and travellers over 65-years-old with accessibility needs, all from the United States, European Union and India.

Speaking about the findings of the report, Elizabeth Aston, Senior Advisor for Industry Affairs at Amadeus IT Group, told e-Access Bulletin that “Technology will be a pivotal factor in making travel more accessible. We are already seeing companies use mobile applications, more intuitive user interfaces, voice recognition, data analytics and customer management systems to help address [access barriers] identified by travellers … But technology is not the sole answer, it must also be seen in the wider context of accessibility, as an enabler and facilitator of change and action.”

As demonstrated in the report, the same technology that can aid more accessible travel can also become an obstacle when it is not designed inclusively. For example, difficulty in navigating inaccessible travel websites was found to be one of the biggest barriers for users during the booking stage.

The report also notes that when booking a trip online, “there is a lack of standard procedures for communicating passengers’ specific needs.” Despite this and other issues, the report found that online booking was still by far the most popular method for booking trips.

A later section of the report examines how technology is empowering travellers. The report notes that “Some hotel chains are using mobile apps to allow guests access to their rooms and other facilities, and others are using virtual reality to demonstrate accommodation and services.”

Here, the study points towards the increasing use of Bluetooth-enabled navigation beacons, wearable technologies and even driverless cars as potential future aids for accessible travel.

Other significant findings from the report include the discovery that “travellers would increase their travel budget by 34% if accessibility barriers were eliminated,” representing a clear business incentive for the industry alongside moral obligations.

The report ends by making recommendations on how the industry can work towards making travel more accessible for all, including a call for the development of “global standards for accessibility in travel and tourism.”

You can read the full report at the Amadeus website, available in accessible PDF: http://www.amadeus.com/web/amadeus/en_1A-corporate/Amadeus-Home/Resources-and-downloads/Research-reports/voyage-of-discovery/1319560217334-Page-AMAD_DetailPpal?assetid=1319713177380&assettype=AmadeusDocument_C&parent=1319609444141

Source:

American Foundation for the Blind

Nov 022017
 

Bank of Valletta logoFITA in collaboration with Bank of Valletta, wish to assess the level of interest in BOV 24×7 Telephone Banking services and the accessibility measures therein.  Information about how to use the BOV Securekey and services available on Telephone Banking and the Customer Service Centre shall be provided.

The points we intend to cover are:

  1. how does the audio enabled Securekey work
  2. logging and signing transactions on phone banking
  3. functions and services available on phone banking
  4. support provided by the BOV customer service centre

If we register enough interest, the proposed session shall be held at the FITA premises at Gattard House, National Road,  Blata l-Bajda.

Interested individuals are to register their interest by sending an email on customercare@bov.com by Thursday  23rd November 2017.

Nov 012017
 

Accessible Technology and the Employment Life Cycle by PEATGiven the growing volume of legislative measures and technical resources available, ICT accessibility has become a paramount concern for many ICT developers and organisations.

An accessible ICT product or service is one which can be used by all; therefore taking into account their differing capabilities. A person’s ability to use technology may be impaired due to various physical, sensory, emotional or cognitive impairments.

Someone who is blind may not be able to see text on a website – someone who is deaf may not be able to hear voices or sounds in a video – someone who uses a wheelchair may not be able to reach a touch screen which is too far away on his or her work desk.  It is entirely possible to design technology so that everyone can use it.

Examples of how technology has become more accessible

  1. Office computers – An employee with a profound motor impairment may use a range of assistive technologies to use the same software applications as his colleagues. Examples of these could include a head pointer to select keys on a keyboard or speech recognition software for dictating text.
  2. Keyboards – One common example of an accessibility feature, is the small tactile node, or “dot”, found on the “5” key on most keypads for computers, telephones and self-service terminals. (Check to see if the keyboard in front of you has one.) By finding the “5” key by touch, anyone can locate the other numeric keys without looking.  This accessibility feature is not just for blind people – most touch typists benefit from it.
  3. Self-service terminals – Self-service terminals such as banking or ticketing machines can incorporate many design features that make them more usable and accessible for all people. For example a screen that has a sufficiently high level of luminance so as to be easily viewable and readable by a wheelchair user or person of lower stature will also be easier to view by all users in bright ambient light conditions such as sunshine.
  4. Subtitles – Subtitles within any kind of multimedia files or TV programmes make the content easier to understand for hard of hearing and deaf people, but also for people watching TV in noisy environments, and even people with low level of command in a specific language.
  5. Speech feedback – Some individuals (about 5% of persons with disabilities) use specialised software and hardware –  called assistive technology – to operate software products. For example, a person who is blind might use a screen reader program with a speech synthesiser to access the content and functionality of a program. This system enhancement provides access to text presented on the screen and to keyboard commands.
  6. Accessible formats – Besides the ICT systems themselves, one must make sure that the information output is accessible as well.  Therefore accessible formats are important too.  Accessible formats include Braille, large print, high-contrast print, easy-to-read, plain language and electronic formats such as HTML and PDF that can be made accessible with a little effort.

To ensure access to all potential users, it is important that software systems do not create access barriers to people with disabilities,  but are compatible with assistive technology.  It stands to reason, that catering for accessible ICT from day one of project planning, ensures minimal additional costs and less use of resources, than retroffitting inaccessible solutions.

Why cater for ICT accessibility?

When software is designed to be accessible to individuals with a broad range of disabilities, it is more usable by others. For example, providing captions to a multimedia presentation can provide access to the content for different users.  These include the Deaf, users using the product in a noise-free environment, users who want to search for specific content, or users for whom English is a second language. Similarly, making educational software available to a student who has a learning disability that affects reading ability, can make it accessible to younger users as well.

Applying accessibility standards in the design of software products helps level the playing field in education and employment.  Making ICT systems accessible, does not only make business sense, as this maximises the potential of human resources, but is also the law.  More information about this point, including applicable ICT accessibility standards and guidelines, can be found under ICT Accessibility Certification.

Source:

Bridging the Disability Divide through Digital Technologies by Deepti Samant Raja, World Bank Group, 2016 : http://pubdocs.worldbank.org/en/123481461249337484/WDR16-BP-Bridging-the-Disability-Divide-through-Digital-Technology-RAJA.pdf

What is ICT accessibility?
http://mandate376.standards.eu/accessible-procurement/what-ict-accessibility

Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technologie (PEAT)

Related resources

 

Nov 012017
 

Graphic showing different people working together, using their preferred tools according to their specialisation and abilityA range of accessible technology products and solutions will usually address not one impairment group but multiple ones.  It is important that when identifying different solutions, one works out how different technologies relate to each other.

This will help avoid overlap and most importantly minimise conflicts, which may benefit one group at the expense of another or break the technology solution altogether.

The following resources cover some accessibility issues that disabled persons (particularly students) face on a daily basis. They also include a few of the many tools that can help make computers and the Internet a more user-friendly place for everyone.  For even more resources, please visit the Useful Links section on the FITA website.

Intellectual Disability

  1. Computers and People with Learning Disabilities – A video presentation from the University at Washington students and workers of the university with learning disabilities demonstrate strategies and techniques for using computers.
  2. Computers and the Writing Process for people with LD – A writeup on LD Online by Richard Wanderman about how computers affect the writing process for individuals with learning disabilities.
  3. Selecting Software for Students with Learning Disabilities – This PDF provides general guidelines to help educators select software for use by the learning disabled.
  4. Using Computer-Based Tests with Students with Learning Disabilities – This article for educators discusses methods of composing computer-based tests so that they are usable by students with learning disabilities.
  5. Assistive Technology and Learning Disabilities – South Carolina’s Assistive Technology Program provides a list of assistive technology tools and built in accessibility options for Apple and Microsoft products.

Blind and low vision

  1. An Educator”s Guide to Visual Disabilities – This article defines issues encountered by people with visual disabilities while using computers as well as provides helpful software and solutions.
  2. Buying a Computer – Guide for the Blind – The American Foundation for the Blind composed this article for people with visual impairments to learn what to look for when purchasing a computer.
  3. Computer Aids for the Blind – The University at Buffalo”s Assistive Technology Training Online Project provides this list of keyboard and mouse alternatives for its blind population.
  4. Colour Blindness Simulations – Enter a webpage into this simulator to see what it looks like to people who are colour blind. These simulators can also help people designing accessible websites.
  5. Assistive Technology for Blind or Visually Impaired College Students – New Jersey Colleges Adaptive Technology Center”s guide to different adaptive technology for the visually impaired.

Deaf and hearing disability

  1. Technologies for Students with Hearing Impairments – Students with hearing impairments are still able to use computers and access information thanks to many assistive devices and software.
  2. Broadband Internet Access for the Hearing Impaired – The National Association for the Deaf advocates for accessible Internet for everyone. The Internet can help the deaf communicate more efficiently.
  3. Computer Learning for Deaf Children – This article reviews how teachers can provide an educational learning environment for deaf children while still using computers.

Mobility impairments

  1. Web Accessibility for persons with Motor Disabilities – This webpage provides descriptions and pictures of different assistive technologies that can help people with mobility impairments. Adaptive keyboards, eye-tracking devices, voice recognition software and other computer adaptations are among the many possibilities.
  2. Using Handhelds to help people with Motor Impairments – People with Muscular Dystrophy and other nervous system disorders can benefit from using devices such as a mouse and keyboard.
  3. Designing Interfaces for Children with Motor Impairments – This paper follows a study in which children with motor disabilities were observed using laptops.

General Accessibility Resources

  1. Computers Assisting the Handicapped – Chris Murphy of Virginia Tech wrote this article on how computers can help persons with disabilities.
  2. Types of Assistive Technology – Microsoft resource providing descriptions of assistive technology products.
  3. Internet and Disability Related Resources – The Internet Society Disability Chapter has composed this list of resources concerning the Internet and disabled individuals.
  4. Telecommunications Access for People with Disabilities – The FCC requires telecommunications manufacturers and providers to make their equipment and services accessible to all people.
  5. National Telecommunication Standards for Accessibility here reviewed by ANED, are applicable across the EU member states.
  6. Enabling People with Disabilities – This Speed Matters webpage explains the benefits of high speed Internet for persons with disabilities.
  7. Assistive Technology Industry Association – The ATIA is composed of organizations that provide assistive devices and services to persons with disabilities.
  8. Use of Computer Technology to Help Students with Disability – Children are now growing up in the “digital age,” and computers are so important to their educational environment.
  9. Computers and Disability – The usage of computers by children can help enhance their self esteem and language skills.

 

Source:

MAPCON article by Lisa Richards, Educational Outreach Writer : http://www.mapcon.com/us-en/computer-and-software-accessibility-for-the-disabled

Related resources

Oct 242017
 

eSight3 equipment at FITAADVICE have purchased the eSight3 assistive technology device, which is now being demonstrated at FITA, together with a suite of other devices, including the Orcam, many devices from Humanware and also Pen Readers.

What is different about the eSight technology?

The eSight3 aims to provide greater accessibility, by enhancing a person’s vision.  It captures video through a front facing camera and projects the image on to two screens within its visor.  Users can alter image attributes, mainly magnification and colour composition.

If you already visited FITA, the simplest way to explain the eSight device, is to describe it as a cross between a VR set and a portable magnifier such as Humanware’s explorer series.  Most other products try to compensate for loss of vision, through other mediums and senses.  Common examples are touch, as with refreshable Braille displays, or with sound/voice feedback, as with the Orcam or screen readers.  The eSight still relies on a person’s sight.  Therefore, depending on one’s remaining level of vision, the benefits to be gained from the eSight will differ widely between individuals.

Also, while with many other assistive technology products, understaning their benefits, is usually a matter of learning what they can do and how to operate them, with the eSight device, users need to take the necessary time to get used to it and learn its many functions.  With the eSight, it is more of a process of learning how to best optimize image quality under different conditions, across daily life situations.

What does the eSight do to help access visual information?

Very, very briefly…

  1. The eSight can enable magnification of live camera video images, as well as allow for panning of the enlarged images.
  2. It allows for different focus settings depending on the objects and distances being viewed.
  3. It allows for freezing of the live video
  4. It can switch colours and improve colour contrast.  This is especially useful when reading text.
  5. It can accept external video sources, like smartphones and TVs.  It allows users to apply to the video signal, the same modifications as with the live video captured by the eSight itself.
How does one control the eSight?

eSight3 screensThe eSight controller, is designed to attach to one’s belt.  It includes wheels, buttons and a sensor pad which enable users to access all the device settings.  Three wheels, for magnfication, contrast and focus contraol the main functionality of the eSight device.  These are also the controls, that users are usually first exposed to, on their first experience with the eSight.

Information about the device is mostly accessed via icons shown onscreen and voice feedback.  All these settings are highly customisable, and can also be turned off.

 Who can benefit from using the eSight3?

As previously mentioned, the benefits to be gained from using the device, will vary greatly between individuals.  These depend on the severity and specifics of the vision impairment.  In most instances, loss of central or partial vision can be compensated for.  Blurred vision can pose a problem, if it cannot be corrected with lenses, but in most instances, users still observe improvements, when magnifying the video image.  The device will interfere with magnetic fields, so its use by individuals using pace makers is not recommended.

Services rendered by FITA and ADVICE in connection with the FITA ICT Pool, are donation based.  Should you wish to make a donation, kindly contact FITA on info@fitamalta.eu

Related resources

Sep 192017
 
Group photo together with San Gwann and Oxford Dictionary Braille materials.

From Left to right, Ms. Margaret Zammit, Ms Cheryl Falzon, Ms Bridgette Micallef, Ms Elizabeth Olivieri, Ms Marcelle Cremona, Mr. Stanley Debono and Mr. Michael Micallef.

On 15th September, the Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility (FITA), presented the Malta libraries with Braille material, which will be added to the Talking Books section at the Public Library in Floriana.  This includes:

  • a Braille version, produced by FITA, of the novel San Ġwann by Ġuzè Galea, in Maltese.
  • a complete Braille version of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The novel San Ġwann was reproduced in Braille with the kind permission of Midsea books and the respective copyright holders.  This Braille embossing project, is made up of three volumes, and was sponsored by Ms Bridgette Micallef, the NGO ADVICE and FITA.

The original cover artwork was created by Mr. Trevor Grech of FITA.  It is a composition of different photos, which he himself has taken and processed for this edition.  A short overview of the project and production of the artwork, in both print and Braille, is included at the beginning of each of each volume.  Transparent Braille stickers are also present on the outside cover, with details identifying each of the three volumes, for easy reference by blind persons.

This version of the Oxford English Dictionary consists of 16 volumes.  This was kindly donated by Ms Marcelle Cremona.  While there is a lack of Maltese language Braille publications, such as the San Gwann novel, there is a greater availability of English language Braille media and this dictionary is sure to help people who are seeking to expand their vocabulary.

FITA promotes access for all.  We assist disabled individuals, business organisations and government entities, in making use of accessible ICT as an empowerment tool, particularly for education and employment. This includes promoting the use of voice recognition and speech synthesis tools.  Ongoing consultation with local associations of the blind, suggests that Braille remains an important tool in ensuring blind and visually-impaired people gain access to literacy.

Donation of Braille material from FITA, ADVICE and persons with disability San Gwann novel in 3 Braille volumesMs Bridgette Micallef reading from the Maltese novel San Gwann

Voice based media limits blind and visually-impaired individuals to mostly consume information that is accessible electronically in such a format.  FITA believes that despite the advantages of modern technology, an adequate literacy level remains important, as it enables individuals to produce and contribute information content that is text based.  This is particularly important within a clerical work environment, where emails and reports remain a common information medium.

According to the National Braille Press: “There is no substitute for the ability to read. For blind people, braille is an essential tool that aids in the process of becoming literate. Tape recorders and synthesized speech are useful tools, but they are inadequate substitutes for reading and writing. Braille literacy plays the same key role in a blind person’s life that print literacy does in a sighted person’s-it increases opportunities.  US based research shows that of the 26 percent of blind people who are employed, the majority of them are braille readers. The correlation is clear – braille is an extremely important tool for blind people to become literate, and it is a critical component that supports educational advancement and increases employment prospects.”

The Brailliant is just one of many refreshable Braille displays availableNowadays, Braille interfaces are integrated with many devices, including tablets and computers, thanks to the use of refreshable Braille displays.  These are used in conjunction with screen reader software, so that users can verify spelling when they read books, browse websites and access other forms of written information.

FITA provides a Braille embossing service, that caters for various projects, ranging from books, conference programmes and menus to business cards.  For more information about this and other ICT accessibility services, you may contact FITA at info@fitamalta.eu or phone us on +356 25992048.

The Braille materials, including the San Gwann novel, audio books and more accessible products can be borrowed from the Public Library.  You may contact the Public Library on +356  21240703 / +356  21243473 or  +356  21224044.  Alternatively they can be reached via email at customercare.cpl@gov.mt

 

Sep 052017
 

To ensure the full participation of people with disabilities in society and to reduce the fragmentation of legislation governing their access to products and services, the Commission has adopted a proposal for a directive – often referred to as the European Accessibility Act. This will provide a common EU definition of, and implementation framework for, accessibility requirements for certain products and services in the internal market. Parliament is due to vote on the proposal in the September 2017 plenary.

European Accessibility Act – at a glance (quick reference PDF)

 

Aug 122017
 

A recent EU research publication, bringing together data from across seven EU countries, analysed the causes and possible solutions, for addressing the relative lack of employment opportunities or workplace discrimination, faced by disabled women.

It confirmed multiple  discrimination  (i.e.  gender and disability) affecting the employment opportunities of these women.  In  addition,  the  study  analysed  whether  and  how  the  EU legislative and  national  policy  frameworks address the multiple  discrimination faced by women with disabilities, combining a  gender  mainstreaming  approach  (e.g.  the  internalisation  of  a  gender  perspective  in  all  disability policies and legislation) with specific measures targeted to women with disabilities  and clear indications on implementation and monitoring mechanisms.

The study collated comparable data from across Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom.  It reports that in the EU28 over 44 million people aged between 15 and 64 years have a basic activity difficulty, and almost 35 million registered a ‘disability in employment’. Women are the majority of people with disabilities and are more likely than men to report a basic activity difficulty.  Considering the increase of the number of elderly people and female longer life expectancy, this number is expected to increase.

Key deficiencies in the data being collected by Eurostat, were found to be

  • current data takes into account only 15_ year old disabled persons who live in private households, and total disregard of disabled persons living in institutions
  • different definition of disabilities among member states
  • gender disaggregated data prevents researchers from distinguishing between physical or mental disabilities and degree of disabilities
Disability definitions reflect different models of disability and impairment, which also affect the strategies  adopted  for  meeting  the  needs  of  people  with  disabilities.  Two  main  models  of  disability are considered:
  • the medical model: focuses on the individual’s health condition, which can potentially impact on her/his quality of life;
  • the social model:  focuses   on   socially-created   barriers,   both   physical   and   social/cultural, that do not accommodate the variety of abilities of the population.

These two models take a different perspective  of  the  interaction  between  the  health  condition  of  an  individual  and  the environment we all live in.  The social model is at the basis of the ‘evolving concept’ of disability adopted by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).

The study states that women with disabilities are not an homogeneous group, and their experience and needs depend on the type and severity of disability, the age and manner of disability onset, socio-economic and demographic characteristics, and biographical experiences. On the other hand, social norms contribute to the stigmatisation of women with disabilities as
undervalued, undesirable, asexual and dependent, and give thus rise to abuse.

Percentage share of people aged 15 to 64 with basic activity difficulties or disability, categorised by gender and EU member stateEurostat  data do not show a gender  disadvantage  in the  access  to education  and  training. As  for  women without  disabilities,  on  average,  women  with disabilities  are  more  highly  educated,  more  likely  to  participate  in  education  and  training  and less likely to leave school early than men with disabilities; however, they have a lower education attainment, lower participation rates in education and training, and higher drop-out rates than women without disabilities.

On  average  in  Europe,  women  with  disabilities  are  more  likely  than both men  with  disabilities  and  women  without  to  work  part-time  and  to  work  from  home. While  disability  and  health  issues  are  among  the  major  reasons  for  leaving  a  job  (especially  for  men),  for  women  they  are  also  among  the  main  reasons  for  not  seeking  employment.  This is conducive to worse income, poverty and living conditions for women with disability.

Women and people with low educational attainment are highly over-represented in the group of people with a mental disorder in all countries. Gender-specific  risk  factors  for  common  mental  disorders  that  disproportionately  affect  women  include  gender-based  violence,  socio-economic  disadvantage,  low  income  and  income  inequality,  low  or  subordinate  social  status  and  rank,  and  unremitting responsibility for the care of others.

The difficulties faced by women with disabilities have been rarely considered in international and national legislation and policies.  There are gradual changes in legislation and policymaking taking place over the last decade, mainly driven by the entry into force of the2006 UN Convention of the Rightsof Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), which recognises the discrimination on thebasis of gender and disability suffered by women (art. 6).

However,  the European Union has still not mainstreamed a disability perspective in its gender policies and programmes, nor adopted a gender perspective in its disability strategies.  Likewise, although attention to disability has increased in the 2014–2020EuropeanStructural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds), gender and disability-related issues when addressed are usually tackled separately.  This perspective is also reflected at a National level.  Notable exceptions among the selected case studies are Germany, Spain and Italy.

It concludes that,  although  the  multiple  discrimination  faced  by  women  with  disabilities  is  increasingly recognised  in  the  debate  and  policymaking,  the  steps  taken  are  still  too  modest  and  austerity  measures  risk  the  impediment  of  further  developments.

The study makes 20+ recommendations, geared towards the EU decision making bodies and national governments. It stresses the need for this issue be taken up by women and disability associations and in academic research,  in  order  to  increase  the  social  and  political  awareness  on  the  multiple  discrimination faced by women with disabilities and the need for targeted measures.

 

Aug 062017
 

Via a press release dated 4th April 2017, the European Parliament has announced that key products and services, like phones, e-book readers, operating systems and payment terminals, will have to be made more accessible to people with disabilities, under draft EU rules amended in committee on Tuesday.

Internal Market Committee rapporteur, Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE, DK), said: “Accessibility is a precondition for persons living with disabilities to enjoy equal participation and therefore to play an active role in society. To this end, it is vital to ensure smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. With greater accessibility for people with disabilities, we get a stronger Europe, which is not just a goal for politicians but also for businesses, which the European Accessibility Act will encourage to innovate with more accessible products and services.”
Daily lives made easier
There are around 80 million disabled persons in the EU, a figure that is expected to rise to 120 million by 2020. The proposed “European Accessibility Act” (EAA) would enable them to benefit from more accessible products and services. The draft directive sets out accessibility requirements for a list including ATMs, ticketing and check-in machines, PCs and operating systems, phones and TV equipment, consumer banking services, e-books, transport and e-commerce. MEPs added other items to the list, such as all payment terminals, e-book readers and websites and mobile device-based services of audio-visual media.
The accessibility requirements would also cover the “built environment” where the service is provided, including transport infrastructure (e.g. train stations), “as regards to the construction of new infrastructure or renovations with a substantial change of the structure of the existing building”, where member states do not already have requirements in place, the committee decided.

Room for innovation
MEPs agreed to base the requirements for accessibility on functionality, rather than on technical specifications. This means the EAA will say what needs to be accessible in terms of “functional performance requirements” but will not impose detailed technical solutions as to how to make it accessible, thus allowing for innovation.  All goods and services complying with the accessibility requirements would benefit from free circulation on the internal market.
Micro-enterprises excluded
Micro-enterprises (i.e. those employing fewer than 10 persons and whose annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet total does not exceed €2 million), would be exempted, due to their size, resources and nature.  Many may argue that since accessible ICT is becoming so common place, this exclusion will be detrimental to micro-enterprise, which can best compete with less flexible and bigger players, specifically when targeting niche markets, where a high level of client based customisation is in demand
The proposal also includes safeguard clauses to ensure that the EAA’s requirements do not create a “disproportionate burden” for economic operators. MEPs clarify that “lack of priority, time or knowledge” shall not be considered as legitimate reasons for claiming that a burden is disproportionate.
Jul 212017
 

Mozilla Commonvoice mascotFITA has joined this project and is asking you to consider doing the same.

Meet Mozilla’s new project, Common Voice. It’s an open collection of labelled voice data anyone can use to create highly accurate voice recognition software. Well, it will soon be that, with your help. In order to create this valuable public resource, they need people who speak English in all sorts of wonderful ways to go and contribute voice samples. (Note: right now Common Voice is only collecting English samples, but stay tuned, we plan to add other languages very soon.) 

Here’s what you do — click over to the Common Voice website.

There are two ways you can help. You can click “Speak” and follow the instructions to leave some of your own voice samples. You’ll be asked to allow the website to access your microphone. Don’t worry, we’re Mozilla, we care about your privacy and won’t use your microphone for anything but recording the short sentences you’ll read. Have fun playing around with that. I know I did.

If leaving a voice recording isn’t your thing, you can also just listen. Click the “Listen” link and you’ll be asked to listen to some sentences others have read and verify they got it right. That’s it. It’s actually a ton of fun.

As voice recognition becomes more important in our digital world, everyone — from startups to students at university to that friend of yours who just likes to tinker — should be able to make sure their apps recognize all our beautiful voices. That’s how we build a healthy Internet, one step at a time.

FITA suggests you contact Mozilla and ask them to consider implementing the Maltese language voice recognition.

Collecting such data for the Maltese language will make it easier for researchers to implement a voice recognition system that every Maltese speaking person could use.

We tried reaching them via their contact page, https://www-archive.mozilla.org/contact/ but the necessary servers/links appeared to be down.  So the next best option seems to be to leave a message on their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/mozilla/

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