On the 20th of February 2018, the European Platform of Deafness, Hard of Hearing and Deaf blindness together with Microsoft organised a seminar entitled “ACT: Accessible Communication Today”. The seminar took place at the Microsoft Centre in Brussels.
Accessibility enables people to realise their full potential, and it plays a vital role for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind. Upcoming technology promises a future where many of the challenges that people with disabilities currently face in society could be tackled with creative solutions. For it to become a reality, accessibility needs to be an integral part of the development of tomorrow’s products and services, as well as built into our society’s policies and culture.
The European Platform of Deafness, Hard of Hearing and Deafblindness, together with Microsoft, gathered key stakeholders from across the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector, the disability movement and the European Union institutions to discuss the potential of accessible technology as well as technical as well as legislative progress in this area and the challenges and opportunities ahead of us. The seminar was an opportunity to highlight and discuss the potential benefits and impact of the latest advances in accessibility.
The seminar was opened by Emmanuelle Grange, Head of Unit on Disability and Inclusion of the European Commission, Helga Stevens, Member of the European Parliament and Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer. Later, representatives from organisations that are part of the European Platform of Deafness, Hard of Hearing and Deafblindness gave presentations: Markku Jokinen, EUD President, Liisa Halonen, EUDY Secretary General , Wouter Bolier, SIGNAAL (Platform Doven, Slechthorenden en TOS) and Ricard López, European Deafblind Network (EDbN) (giving a speech prepared by Peter Vanhoutte, EDbU Board Member) highlighted concrete challenges that they face, if accessibility is not provided. Next Hector Minto, Senior Accessibility Evangelist at Microsoft gave a presentation about the latest technological developments regarding accessibility. During the lunch break Hector Minto presented some of the accessibility features Microsoft developed for deaf, hard of hearing and deaf blind persons. Afterwards, Inmaculada Placencia Porrero, Senior Expert in the Social affairs, Disability and Inclusion Unit of the European Commission and Alejandro Moledo, New Technologies and Innovation Officer at the European Disability Forum gave an overview of the state of relevant EU draft legislation on the topic of accessibility. After the presentations, a fireside chat, moderated by EUD Executive Director Mark Wheatley, took place during which participants had a chance to ask questions.
The full recording of the seminar, presentations and the script are available below.