For the last two years, the R&D department belonging to INTECO has collaborated with the technical staff of the Centro de Referencia Estatal de Atención a Personas con Grave Discapacidad y para la Promoción de la Autonomía Personal y Atención a la Dependencia de San Andrés del Rabanedo (León, Spain) (CRE) in order to apply new information technologies to develop applications that satisfy accessibility and usability principles. Currently, there are around 200 residents with different physical, mental and sensory disabilities living in the CRE. Most of them are severely physically impaired (ataxic, paraplegic, medullar injury etc.) but there are also visually impaired people or those suffering from intellectual disabilities. Although there are several approaches to integrating these groups, for example by improving their personal autonomy to carry out their daily routines, it is sometimes not possible to achieve a completely accessible structure outside their homes that helps them find alternative leisure activities. Furthermore, new technologies play a crucial role in providing an alternative way to interact with other people. The number of social applications and networks is increasing and their use increases day by day. Instant messaging is a major cornerstone in this.
Instant messaging allows the client to communicate with other people, deciding what they want to show of themselves. Most of the residents use Windows Live Messenger to communicate over the Internet despite its non-user friendly interface. The objective of this project was to analyse and develop an Instant Messaging System that enables the disabled people to interact with other people, removing the difficulties of the current systems and considering accessibility and usability principles. A prototype with full functionality has already been developed in cooperation with an organisation called CRE, which houses residents suffering from serious disabilities. The residents find it easy to manage multiple conversations since there is a single window that captures everything. The focus is also kept under user control, not changing when an event occurs (such as a new conversation, a pending contact or a new received message). Typical functionality has been kept but users will decide in the end whether they prefer it or not.
The aim of this project is to add new features little by little, so as to get the application adapted to more severely disabled people. For example, a set of images or sounds can be shown, selected and sent to another user simply by clicking on them. Likewise, users may express their feelings or state of mind even though they might not be able to use a keyboard. Although the discouraging variety of existing disabilities slows down the process of developing a final application, several prototypes with additional features are being scheduled.
|Award category:||citizen involvement|
|Sector:||Information society, technology, media and audiovisual|
|Type of activity:||new services or new technologies|
|Keywords:||Instant messaging, accessibility, severely impaired people|
|Short English description:||Instant messaging allows the client to communicate with other people, deciding what they want to show of themselves|
|Organisation:||INTECO - Spanish National Institute of Communication Technologies|
|Level of government:||national level|
|Size of organisation:||50-100|
|Number of people involved:|
|EU membership:||EU member|