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News of general interest follows here. Technical information and news about accessibility can be found in the members' secure section

Support for companies developing Ambient Assisted Living solutions to achieve the market breakthrough  7 June 2011 Brussels, Belgium. The underlying motivation for the workshop is the potential for significant economic and social impact from the introduction – on a wide scale – of innovative AAL solutions. While this potential has been recognized for some time, breakthroughs in terms of widespread availability and deployment of solutions have yet to be achieved. The EU and the AAL Association have funded activities in this area for some years, and some of these are now at a stage in their development where direct hands-on involvement of development companies is the best way to make sure that this work produces results that are effective and applicable in real industrial settings. The workshop is directed at companies whose business involves the development of software components or complete solutions for AAL (Ambient Assisted Living). The participation of SMEs is particularly welcome. The workshop is organised by the AAL Open Association, the European Commission – ICT for Inclusion unit, and supported by the AAL Association.

April 2011 

This year's RAATE conference will be held on Monday, 28th November 2011 at the University of Warwick Conference Centre. The only UK conference focused on the latest innovations in AT, RAatE 2011 will be of interest to everyone who uses, works with, develops or conducts research in the field of AT. RAatE is known as a friendly and productive conference that offers the chance to meet and share knowledge and experiences with other people working in AT. As with previous years, submissions may include reporting on research projects, service developments, case studies, evaluations, new developments or reviews. In addition to research papers or new innovations this year RAatE welcomes offers of presentations on how specialist aspects of assistive technology are delivered within services. With an ever expanding range of technology, how do services meet the increasing needs and expectations of their client groups? In particular RAatE welcomes hearing how services provide specialist aspects of assistive technology such as specialist wheelchair controls, integrated access, communication requirements or environmental controls. Challenges and solutions that have worked locally can be presented inthe form of case studies or group presentations. The deadline for the call for papers is 8th July 2011 and submissions can be made via the RAatE website here.

The Government has published its formal statutory response to the consultation it launched in September 2010 on “Implementing the revised Electronic Communications Framework: Overall approach and consultation on specific issues”. The response is available on: http://www.dcms.gov.uk/publications/8048.aspx The Government is  grateful for the feedback received on proposals for implementation. This included over 60 formal written submissions as well as a number of other responses via a survey monkey response facility. Four large-scale events for stakeholders and four smaller events on specific policy issues (security and resilience, changes to the appeals framework, infrastructure sharing and cookies) were held, as well as over 80 bilateral meetings with individual stakeholders. Feedback has been carefully analysed and, where appropriate, reflected in the final implementation strategy. Contributions were also received which have been incorporated into the final impact assessments (including the equality impact assessment) – these are published alongside the Government response. In addition, independent research was commissioned on two key areas of change; cookies and security and resilience. These research reports, produced by PwC and Detica respectively, are also published alongside the Government response. The next stage is for statutory instruments to be laid before Parliament to amend the primary legislation necessary for compliance with the European directives. This will happen at the start of May.

As announced in the Budget and in the Plan for Growth last month, the Government has published an overarching set of Principles for Economic Regulation. These can be found at http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/better-regulation/improving-regulatory-delivery/principles-for-economic-regulation The purpose of these Principles is to:

  • reaffirm the importance of, and the Government’s commitment to, stable and predictable regulatory frameworks to facilitate efficient investment and sustainable growth;
  • set the framework for delivering greater clarity about the respective roles of Government, regulators and producers, and greater coherence in an increasingly complex and interlinked policy context; and
  • set out the characteristics of a successful framework for economic regulation to guide policy makers in assessing future developments.

The publication follows a Call for Evidence issued in January which attracted more than 60 responses. These responses, together with a short summary of the key points raised, will be published on the web-site shortly.

The e-Access '11 Conference Are you excluding precious customers from your digital services?takes place on 28 June. Millions in the UK are affected by some form of disability, so this conference is for all business managers, strategists, policy makers and communicators. You or someone in your team needs to be aware of these issues. Whatever stage you are at with your thinking on 'e-accessibility', from novice to old hand, this conference will help. Speakers include Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries; Stephen Duckworth, Board Member, Olympic Delivery Authority, London 2012; and Jonathan Hassell, Head of Usability, BBC. The event is hosted by OneVoice for Accessible ICT Coalition with E-Access Bulletin. For more information, including delegate fees, visit www.headstar.com/eaccess11 PhoneAbility members can get a discount on delegate fees. Go to the members' secure area for details.

PhoneAbility has responded to theOfcom consultation on Changes to General Conditions and Universal Service Conditions. The response can be read in the members' secure section.

“Accessibility Reaching Everywhere”: the final workshop and international conference of the AEGIS project28 November 2011 - 30 November 2011 Brussels, Belgium. The event will bring together both end-users (people with disabilities) as well as platform and application accessibility developers, representative organisations, the Assistive Technology industry, and policy makers. Since 2008, the consortium of the FP7 AEGIS project has been developing an Open Accessibility Framework – comprising open accessibility interfaces, user interface components, developer tools, end-user applications and prototype accessibility solutions for desktops, rich Internet applications and mobile devices. The workshop on 28 November will focus on the realisations of the AEGIS project and provide attendees the opportunity to try out all outcomes of the project. The conference on 29-30 November will gather a wide array of experts and users in the area of Assistive Technology to discuss scientific and policy developments in accessible technology; showcase relevant projects and initiatives in the area of assistive technology. Registration is now open and a call for papers for the conference has been launched, deadline is 30th April 2011. 

BT has launched ‘Including You’ (here), a new website offering a range of accessible products and services for those who need extra help with communications.Designed and developed in conjunction with AbilityNet, the national charity that enables people with disabilities to access technology and the internet, the site is the first to achieve the new AbilityNet accreditation mark. For more details, follow this link.

The government’s ‘Plan for Growth’, which accompanied the Budget, includes a commitment to improve the take up of assisted living technology. The Plan commits the government to help establish a code of practice that sets a framework for services and technology, provides quality assurance to customers, and increases uptake, and to work with the Technology Strategy Board on developing assisted living solutions. The Plan is here.

High level conference "Towards the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2012)"        29 April 2011 Brussels. The conference will be an important milestone towards the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2012) and should help to mobilise stakeholders at all levels. Member States, regional and local authorities, social partners and civil society organisations will be invited to commit on specific objectives and activities in view of the European Year 2012. A first version of the future website of the European Year 2012 will be launched. The conference will also mark the 3rd European Day on Solidarity between Generations.

Source: Europe's Information Society - Thematic Portal, (c) European Communities

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