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Can the Internet of Things bridge the digital divide?


From: Katie Durand
Date: Apr 21, 2016 6:08AM

10th European e-Accessibility Forum: e-Accessibility in a Connected World30th May 2016, Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Paris
Each day our social and economic lives becomes increasingly connected as the boundaries between physical and digital spaces fall away. The scale of this expanding infrastructure, commonly known as the Internet of Things (IoT), is unprecedented and forecast to grow at an astonishing rate. Embedded in devices from streetlights to household appliances, networks of sensors will gather data which can be leveraged in real time through cloud technologies to provide specialised and contextualised services when and where they are needed. Access to an intuitive and affordable "smart" network of objects and services will reduce the need for direct human actioning and decision making and aim to overcome boundaries that presently condition our interaction with the world around us.
Still very much in its infancy, it is hoped that this web of intelligent and connected objects will make life a great deal easier for people with disabilities and the elderly. Seamlessly integrated into the home, the transport network and the workplace, sensors will have the capacity to capture very specific needs and adapt services and applications accordingly. Real-life examples of the comfort and convenience offered by smart objects are emerging, and there is a great deal of research and development underway which explores and builds on the capabilities of this new technology to bridge gaps in the digital divide.
The 10th European e-Accessibility Forum, organised by BrailleNet under the high patronage of French President François Hollande, will attempt to present an overview of the topic, look at how the needs of disabled users are being considered, raise questions around privacy and trust, and present solutions that are already available on the market or under development. It will provide an invaluable opportunity to get up to speed on the current situation, and to consider what role we can play as a community in ensuring that this cross-sector ecosystem is fully accessible. Speakers include Shadi Abou-Zhara of the W3C - Web Accessibility Initiative, Steve Tyler of the Royal National Institute of Blind People and Alexis Normand of Withings.
For more details and to register online visit http://eaf2016.braillenet.org