Tuesday, December 18, 2012

And the winner is….. everybody in the long run!

The Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards celebrated yesterday in Brussels the winners of accessible mobile apps in four categories: social participation, independent living, mobility and wellbeing. Out of 85 entries, the jury selected 12 finalists that presented a wide range of innovative and sometimes simple ideas of how apps can make mobile phones and societal life more accessible.

Viviane Redding, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, said in her keynote speech that while many accessibility features originally are designed for persons with disabilities, they often end up benefiting all users making mobile phones for everyone more convenient.

A statement beautifully underlined by the four winners:
  • Starting Blocks by Gemixin: introduces smartphones to people who are completely new to the world of mobile technology, particularly the elderly. Starting Blocks allows users to learn about, and more importantly, safely practice the key skills that they will need to use their Android device. In a nutshell, it provides them with the “starting blocks” that they will need to progress on their mobile journey.
  • Happen by Airsign Technologies: allows users to get information on a range of different topics, including daily news, weather, sports scores or stock quotes. The information is presented in a format adapted to each user's needs, either visually (with big texts and buttons and customizable colour themes), motor based (with different navigation modes) or supporting complete spoken feedback.
  • Jaccede by jaccede.com: catalogues places that are accessible to people with a disability. Useful information, such as whether the entrance is step-free, whether toilets are accessible, etc is displayed alongside photos, user comments and other relevant information.
  • Ablah by Ablah: an augmentative communication application, using images, text and sounds.The user can communicate with others by making the device speak for them. The backlit display has been found to be particularly successful with autistic children.

Great apps that we will make sure to integrate in the GARI database when we open it in the next months to catalogue accessible apps that make the life and inclusion of persons with disabilities easier.

More information about the Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards: http://developer.vodafone.com/smartaccess2012/home/
More information about the 12 finalists: http://developer.vodafone.com/smartaccess2012/saa-2012-finalist/