Vitra caleidoscope

Vitra caleidoscope

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A System of Global Accessibility: designing Tomorrow with the European Accessibility Act.

Image above: A board game-based idea in the official brochure of the Hellenic Guide Dog Education and Development Center “Guide Dogs Greece”. The Snakes-and-Ladders inspired, playful design (also ideal to simulate on a mobile app), raises awareness about Guide Dogs Fostering and Training program through a series of basic, necessary steps in order to become the accomplished Volunteer Foster Trainer of a fully operational guide dog. Find more information on Guide Dogs Fostering and Training program‘s terms and conditions in Greece- plus relevant links on : 


The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is a extremely important set of laws, (under the form of an E.U general guideline), that will change EVERYTHING in the design of products specifications,norms and services on European ground, (mainly regarding the digital market), so those products will become accessible to all, including people with disability or other type of impairment. The EAA concerns primarily the re-design in software, terminals, ticket publishing, art, publications and e-books and e-commerce sectors. The final voting in the E.U parliament for the implementation of EAA as official E.U legislation, will take place in March 2017. 

This November 2016 a congress has been held at the Eugenides Foundation- Athens Planetarium exploring the EAA traits and presenting its many different angles, originally initiated by Syriza MEP Konstantina Kouneva, key introductor in E.U Reports Committee and also rapporteur in EAA Equality and Employment Plan Committee. Mrs Kuneva, an activist and an emblematic figure in the defense of Human Rights defined the purpose of the EAA, which is the obligation to design for all, emphasizing on the various stakes of the Act such as the 3-yr life period of electronic products, the synchronization of local laws, ministries, administrations  and services in each E.U member state, the strict safety regulations, the copyright and intellectual property challenges including patents etc., the complications with guilds and industries that oppose to EAA due to short-term financial interests. 

Representatives by many organizations in the wide spectrum of disability, mental or physical – exposed different angles of the Accessibility for All issues such as discrimination, educational reform (no more “special schools” please), economic criteria such motives for companies that apply accessibility norms (ex. Expiry date on alimentary products also in Braille, audiovisual  facilities such SDH subtitling and audio description (AD)), adequate legal framework for security and data protection, deinstitutionalization and investment. It is vital for global economy the transit to new digital infrastructures, made by all, for all and it is expected from E.U to respond to the task. 

Greek Vice-minister of Social Solidarity Theano Fotiou elaborated on digital engineering and how the new on-line platform of the ministry will attempt for the first time to register all citizens with disability and the disability care units, so to create a unique, accurate and legitimate record of all people facing a physical or mental condition of some degree of impairment in Greece (note: the estimates for the actual numbers are based on old statistics, giving an approximate of 200.000 cases in the country)- and eventually claim additional funds if needed, for their sustainable living in society.  

From right to left in the photo bellow, some of the distinctive speakers of the congress: F. Bibassis- Member of the  Education and Rehabilitation Center for the Blind (K.E.A.T), G. Lymvaios- Secretary Member of the Greek National Committee of People with Disability, p. Manthopoulou,-Head of People with Disability Office- Ministry of Social Solidarity, Theano Fotiou- Vice-minister of Social Solidarity, Eleni Tsagka- Journalist –Coordinator, Pwlina Papanikolaou- Criminologist- Researcher. 

Accessibility design, its legal support EAA and eventually the European Accessibility Law- are compensating factors for social recovery and economic rejuvenation. 
Accessibility equals Emancipation and Self-Actualization. Let’s get those ATM easy to use for the partially sighted, let’s help the Down-syndrome teens to enter university and let’s  encourage the increasing amount of population developing PTSD, to overcome anxiety and get back to work with soothing apps! The time is nowPlease check the sites: 

Best regards?-))

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