NCBI - Working for People with Sight Loss

NCBI - Working for People with Sight Loss was established in 1931 and is the primary service provider in the Republic of Ireland to people with vision impairments. It is a non-profit organisation and a registered charity with a mission to promote the full independence of people with impaired vision and to minimise the disabling effects of vision impairment. NCBI provides vision assessment, information, advice, and support to people with sight loss. It has a nationwide network of community resource workers and trainers who provide rehabilitation, counselling, employment support, and training in mobility, daily living skills, computer skills and the use of assistive technologies. NCBI has significant experience working on EU funded projects over many years.

NCBI established the Centre for Inclusive Technology (CFIT) in January 2005 as a centre of expertise in digital accessibility. The centre aims to promote the accessibility of Information and Communication Technologies to the widest audience, including older people and people with disabilities. Its activities include promotion, education, training, consultancy, design assistance, evaluation, research and standards development in Universal Design and accessibility. CFIT offers services in accessibility auditing and user testing involving people with disabilities, at our user testing laboratory with remote observation and hard disk video recording facilities. Among other projects CFIT is currently involved in the WAI Protocols and Formats Working Group, the Irish Internet Association User Experience Working Group, European Commission Mandate M376, the ComReg forum on Communications Services for People with Disabilities, the W3C HTML 5 Working Group and the TV Access Coalition for accessible digital television.

NCBI’s role in the I2Web Project involves eliciting user requirements as well as validation and evaluation of the interactive systems produced by the project. CFIT’s user testing laboratory and extensive experience in web accessibility evaluation and inclusive design means that NCBI is well placed to contribute to all user related aspects of the I2Web project. The aims and outputs of the I2Web project are directly relevant to CFIT’s own objectives and will inform current research and related projects at the centre. The centre is concurrently participating as a partner in the European project VICON (Virtual User Concept for Inclusive Design of Consumer Products and User Interfaces, FP7—248294), which is investigating the potential of virtual user modelling to create tools for designers to make mainstream products accessible. As there are many similarities in the user-centred approaches of both VICON and I2Web it is envisaged that both projects will inform each other. I2Web’s exploration of content for IPTV is relevant to CFIT’s current involvement in digital television projects. We are involved in developing universal design guidelines for digital television (including interactive and hybrid television). CFIT also participates in the ITU-T FG AVA focus group on audio-visual accessibility investigating best practice for accessible digital interactive television.

Much of CFIT’s work is focused on the dissemination of digital inclusion policy and practice to designers and developers. We are currently involved in creating a universal design curriculum in Ireland and also advise the ongoing CEN workshop agreement on a curriculum for training professionals in universal design. The objectives of the I2Web project are particularly relevant to our own attempts to educate both novice and experienced developers and designers on the value of accessibility and universal design.