Monday, October 7, 2019

“We would need a GARI for everything…”

This was one of the conclusions of the M-Enabling Forum in Düsseldorf. Speakers and participants agreed that we have made great advances in accessible technologies that can make lives of people with disabilities or senior citizens easier, yet most people who need it, do not know about what is available in the market or how to use it. 

“Senior living in the city and at home” was the topic of one of the afternoon sessions at the M-Enabling Forum which took place on 19 September in Düsseldorf. And the conclusion of the representatives of senior citizens organizations, the hard of hearing community, academia and the assistive technology industry in this session was unanimous: neutral advice and training are key factors in the uptake of technology.

Senior citizens as well as people with disabilities often face challenges in the area of mobility, when getting from a point A to an unfamiliar point B becomes stressful and difficult, as well as in the interaction with a range of devices all with different user interfaces. In the discussed scenarios, it was clear that accessibility features and apps can help, but the key to fulfill their potential is awareness and training, meaning that users must be informed about the solutions and be offered training  in how to find and use these features and apps. 

The participants in the session shared examples of great solutions that can help, such as the apps of Seeing AI and BeMyEyes, but emphasized the need for a central source of information that everyone would know and go to for information on accessible solutions. For the product ranges it covers (namely mobile phones, tablets, smart TVs, Wearables and apps), the GARI database can certainly fulfill this role, but there is still need to make it known more widely. 

In his closing words to the M-Enabling Forum, Axel Leblois from G3ict underlined how encouraging it is to see the number of legislative and civil society initiatives on national and European level to advance accessibility, which demonstrates a big change in attitude as compared to a few years back. Throughout the discussions during the M-Enabling Forum it became clear that the human factor is crucial in everything we do, to make sure that technology will be accessible and that inclusive technology will be adopted. This can only be achieved by creating even more collaborations, more partnerships, bringing in more stakeholders and working on making the world accessible together. 

About the M-Enabling Forum Europe: 
The second M-Enabling Forum Europe 2019 took place on 19 September 2019 in the Congress Center of Messe Düsseldorf in conjunction with REHACARE. The event is dedicated to promoting accessible and assistive technology for people with disabilities and senior citizens. The M-Enabling Forum Europe is organized by E.J. Krause & Associates, Inc and G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technology. It is a crucial opportunity to link policy to practice through current and emerging technologies for all. The 2020 Forum will be held on 24 September. More information can be found at:

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