The Research Council’s IT Funk program has contributed to increased accessibility to ICT and society for people with disabilities. Much has been achieved with modest means.
There was a large attendance at IT Funk’s closing conference
These were among the conclusions when IT Funk (IT for disabled people) recently arranged a closing conference.
IT Funk has contributed to accessibility for all through knowledge, innovation, user involvement and corporate development
User forums are continued in the Delta Center
Work on increased accessibility to ICT and society for people with disabilities continues even though IT Funk is terminated. IT Funk’s User Forum continues in the Delta Center’s UNIKT program.
“We will continue the good cooperation with user organizations, the public sector, professional communities and the business community, and we aim for the UNICT forum to be an attractive meeting place that drives the subject area further. UnIKT will continue to support projects in the field through an annual grant scheme.
It was Åse Kari Haugeto, head of the Delta Center (National Center for Participation and Accessibility Center), which assured the large assembly that attended the IT Fun’s final conference at the Scandic Gardermoen Hotel on May 23, 2013 that work on increased accessibility to ICT and society for people with disabilities should continue. For the current year, NOK 3 million has been allocated for project support.
The Research Council has wished to continue the allocations from relevant ministries, which previously went to IT Funk, in the “more active and healthy years” initiative and new ICT initiatives.
More than 90 interested parties from user organizations, authorities, research and professional communities had met the close-packed program to the IT Funk concluding conference. There were 23 lecturers.
The conference was divided into seven main themes: The history of IT Funk in the period 1998-2012, innovation in practice with user experience and corporate development, user involvement, language technology, universal design in ICT, the way forward and keynote lectures on the theme of an inclusive revolutionary era .
The lectures gave an illustrative summary of what has been achieved by results and development through IT Funk’s 15-year history. The program has supported about 120 different projects, and 3 of 4 projects have been continued.
Olav Rand Bringa from the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion said that the start of IT Funk was untraditional. A scheme across the programs in the Research Council. BLD is currently considering the funding of the program as very successful.
Since 2008, IT Funk has also been a Norwegian representative in the European Innovation Program AAL. Norwegian research and development environments have had great success with participation in a number of projects. Pål Gretland from the Ministry of Trade and Industry noted that the participation has given a positive return from the EU to Norway.
That project support and follow-up from IT Funk has provided positive development and innovation in practice for business, was exemplary explained through several corporate presentations.
IT Funk has played a key role in the development of, among other things, the companies MediaLT AS, Abilia AS, Karde AS and Brusell Communication AS. Several of the products the companies have developed have won prizes and have been high in the ranking of products developed through the European Innovation Program AAL.
User involvement was highlighted as a strength for IT Funk. Here Øystein Johnsen from Abilia
The importance of IT Funk and user involvement was also duly emphasized by several interest organizations, including the SAFO, Norway’s Blindeforbund and Norsk Designråd, which have worked with IT Funk for several years.
User participation has proven to be good results with limited resources. It shows the experiences from both participation in the User Forum and through project participation. Blindeforbundet believes it is vital to have user involvement and universal design also on the law side.
“There is often a difference between what the market offers and what end-users really want. Therefore, it is important to have the end-users when the process of inclusive design is being implemented, “said Anna Mieczakowski of the Engineering Design Center, University of Cambridge, in his keynote lecture, Time for the Inclusive Revolution .
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