Mobile Accessibility News

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[edit] NEWS 2009

[edit] News 2008

  • On December 22, Vodafone Spain launches Vodafone Speak powered by Code Factory
  • On December 13, the Indian Times published the article: Nokia plans to design handsets for disabled. Hopefully they really do.
  • On September 01, the European research project HAPTIMAP started its work. "The HAPTIMAP project will deeply embed accessibility into digital mainstream maps and mobile location based services." Navteq, bought by Nokia, is one of the participants. The project is funded with 6.7 million euro under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union. Read more at IST World.
  • The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) launched the Mobile Web for Social Development interest group. "This group is chartered to explore the potential of mobile technology to help bridge the digital divide. The MW4D Interest Group will study the issues that rural communities and underprivileged populations face in accessing information and communication technology. The MW4D IG provides an multidisciplinary forum for discussing these issues, and in doing so, contributes to the W3C mission of making the Web available to all." See also this blog entry.
  • On May, 14 Peter Korn from Sun Microsystems released the article Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
    "Article 9 of the Convention speaks to Accessibility, and I read several aspects of this as applying directly to technology accessibility work." Peter Korn is an active member of the OLPC accessibility project. Read also Peter's article about high prices of assestive technology for blind persons and the following article.
  • In May 2008 many qualified Nokia employees in Bochum (Germany) lost their jobs. Because of nonsensitive communication, Nokia currently have a kind of image problem in Germany. This facts could be a reason for an accessibility research project. Some employees could get new jobs and Nokia would be able to show responsibility for society and goodwill to their many blind or otherwise handicapped customers. Bochum could become the worldwide first location with a research center for mobile accessibility.
  • On April, 30 Henny Swan (UK) mentioned this open letter at Iheni blog. One day later, Lisa Herrod (Australia) added some interesting thoughts about commonalities of the open letter topics and mobile web usability at Sitepoint blog. This was the first public feedback by professionals. Thank you.
  • On April, 21 Clayton Lewis from Boulder (USA) was a speaker at the ITU/G3ict Forum in Geneva. Together with a group of students he is working on first applications for Android. Yoshinobu Nakamura from NTT DoCoMo (OHA member) was another speaker.

You can find biographies, abstracts and downloadable presentations on the ITU site. The ITU/G3ict Forum explored the likely impact of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the evolution of ICT standards with the active participation of industry, Standards Development Organizations (SDOs), NGOs, and other interested parties.

  • On April, 21 the blind Google research scientist and open source developer T.V. Raman was a keynote speaker at the W4A conference in Beijing. As it seems, he hasn't announced first details about Google's accessibility plan for the Android platform. W4A is an international cross-disciplinary conference on web accessibility.
  • On March, 05 a visually impaired Nokia customer from Iran started an online petition and everyone can sign it. Nokia has launched a beta service which is called Open Signed Online but unfortunately it's inaccessible for a few groups of users.
  • The study "Accessibility and Business Value", sponsored by The Customer Respect Group, finds that companies strategically invested in removing barriers to customer interaction are deriving significant hard and soft benefits from accessibility initiatives.
  • On February, 11 Spice Corp Ltd, an Indian telecoms Corporation, launched the Braille Phone [1] for the revolutionary price of $20. The Braille Phone has basic phone call functionality, alphanumeric keys with Braille labels, speech feedback after every key stroke and no screen. Reduce to the max! Hopefully this device will be offered to poor blind people in developing countries by charitable or micro finance organisations.
  • On February, 11 the Nokia Beta Labs released a first version of Maps 2.0 Beta with the new walk feature for pedestrians.
  • On February, 6 the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released their annual study Information Economy Report 2007-2008 (PDF). Reuters: UNCTAD said mobile phone subscribers have almost tripled in developing countries over the last five years, and now make up some 58 percent of mobile subscribers worldwide. The report said mobile phones were the main communication tool for small businesses in developing countries, reducing costs and increasing the speed of transactions. "In Africa, where the increase in terms of the number of mobile phone subscribers and penetration has been greatest, this technology can improve the economic life of the population as a whole." The revolution in information and communication technology was spreading to the developing world - this should be a chance for the many disabled citizens in Asia, Africa and Latin America as well.
  • On January, 15 Forum Nokia released the first part of the Loadstone story (PDF). Forum Nokia is one of the largest mobile developer communities in the world. The term Forum Nokia collectively refers to both the support organization within Nokia Corporation and the individuals and companies supported by the organization.
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