Vodafone Foundation launched the Smart Accessibility Awards. This is a new competition to promote the development of IT applications designed to improve the lives of people with disabilities and older people to help them become more actively involved in society.
The programme is supported and co-organized by AGE Platform Europe, the European network of around 160 organisations of and for people aged 50+, and the European Disability Forum (EDF), the NGO that represents the interests of 80 million Europeans with disabilities.
Launched in Brussels at the EU Digital Assembly, the competition will award the best Smartphone application across four different categories as follows:
- 1. Social participation: This refers to applications which help users to participate actively in today’s society and benefit from the facilities that the new technologies can offer, whatever their age, disability and/or capacity (E.g. use the web and social media through mobile devices, contact people using mobile devices to the same extent as everyone, etc).
- 2. Independent living: This refers to applications which help users to be more autonomous and perform daily tasks independently (e.g. using domestic appliances such as washing machine or refrigerator, opening doors safely, etc).
- 3. Mobility: This refers to applications which enable users to move around more freely and safely using the whole range of transport modes. It can also refer to the use of mobile devices to be guided in unknown environment (e.g. using GPS option, etc).
- 4. Wellbeing: This refers to applications which improve the users’ health and as well as overall feeling of wellbeing.
The total prize fund of 200,000€ will be split equally between the four winners. The competition is open from 14 June 2011 to 15 October 2011. All entries should be submitted to http://developer.vodafone.com/smartaccess2011/
All qualifying entries will be evaluated in November by a jury, consisting of representatives from AGE Platform Europe, European Disability Forum and Vodafone Foundation. Twelve finalists will be selected and requested to present their application before the final jury in Brussels in early December at a live final, where the four overall winners will be chosen.
Vodafone Foundation Director, Andrew Dunnett said “The Vodafone Foundation is keen to help as many people as possible benefit from new technologies. The Smart Accessibility Awards will help developers create apps that can really make a difference to people’s lives – we are thrilled to be able to support such an important initiative.”
Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Platform Europe Secretary General, said “We are pleased to be involved in a project that supports our efforts towards building a more inclusive society. Digital inclusion is key to ensuring as many people as possible remain actively involved in their communities and we should make sure every citizen is empowered to do so, whatever their age or capacities. We hope this competition will help reach that goal and also contribute to the ‘European Year 2012 for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations’ where the objective is to increase older people’s active participation in society and promote independent living in old age. ”
Rodolfo Cattani, EDF Executive Member, said; “Being part of this competition is very important for us. Communication technologies are vital to making possible the inclusion of persons with disabilities. When the mobile applications are not accessible, it can create new obstacles and can lead to new forms of discrimination. We look forward to seeing accessible apps.”
This special issue explores Open Educational Resources (OER) and the ways in which they can be used to support social inclusion, one of the key challenges that needs to be addressed in today’s technologically rich digital environment (Conole, 2011). This fits well with the scope of Distance Education in terms of reporting on research in open, distance and flexible learning, as OER are a key mechanism for supporting these different types of learning, as well as learning across formal and informal educational contexts.
Content of this special issue
This special issue calls for papers, reflections, reviews, and reports focusing on the relationship between OER and social inclusion, as well as looking at ways in which OER might be used to promote social inclusion. We welcome both theoretical as well as positional papers, and also empirical case studies of practice. Key questions to address include:
- Who is using OER? Why? Where? What factors can explain the growth (or lack of growth) of OER use?
- How are new open, social and participatory media and OER being used in learning and teaching? In what ways are they leading to social inclusion/exclusion? In what ways can they be harnessed to promote social inclusion?
- What digital literacy skills do learners and teachers need to make effective use of these technologies and resources? To what extent are they evident and how can they be developed?
- What is the impact on organizations of these new technologies and resources? What are their implications for institutional structures and roles?
- How can we design OER more innovatively to harness the potential of these new technologies and resources? What new approaches might be used?
- How are the ways in which learners and teachers communicate and collaborate changing with the use of these technologies?
- How can we create effective new digital learning environments to promote the use of OER? How can informal learning using OER be assessed and accredited?
- What kinds of policy directives are in place to promote social inclusion through the use of OER and how effective are they?
Also welcome are:
- empirical studies of the use of OER and a reflection on the implications for promoting social inclusion
- empirical studies on examples of social exclusion or inclusion in learning and teaching using OER
- reports on case studies or educational programs using new technologies and OER in novel ways to enhance and support student creativity
- critical theoretical approaches to transferring modern social, community, and private learning practices to educational contexts
- explorations around the design and use of OER.
Guest editor: Professor Gráinne Conole, The Open University/University of Leicester, United Kingdom
Submitting your proposal
Submit your proposal to Gráinne Conole (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The workshop noted that digital literacy and eInclusion is a journey: from awareness, through inclusion, engagement and ultimately to empowerment. Sustainable and scalable solutions are needed. There are diverse and various routes to eInclusion (different models, places, partnerships). On a policy side strong and clear argument becomes visible for Digital literacy for inclusive society and competitive economy.
The EC DG Inforation Society and Media ICT for Inclusion initiative thanks the enthusiasm and participation in the workshop on Digital Literacy and eInclusion, held on June 17 at the Digital Agenda Assembly. In order to to help continue the involvement in the issue, a feedback a follow up survey http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T5XRZST has been launched. Please take a few mintues to fill it in. You will find all the presentations for reference on the workshop website.
This workshop aimed to create in-depth awareness and provide practical tools for the EU Member States to engage in structured, long term policies for digital literacy acquisition in the e-Inclusion context (Digital Agenda action 66). It was organized with the Big Idea of Multi-stakeholder platform for digital literacy and e-Inclusion.
On June 30, the Director General of DG Information Society and Media, Robert Madelin, is having a Tweetchat! You can follow the discussion and contribute using the links below:
Statement by Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Sport, at the meeting of Education Ministers (20 May 2011)
"Today we are taking an important step forward in the fight against early school leaving in Europe and in achieving one of the Europe 2020 headline targets. This task is a vital one - Europe cannot afford to leave six million young people without a clear perspective for their further education and employment.
This Council Recommendation signals our commitment to fight one of the main causes of poverty and social exclusion.
We are all well aware that early school leaving is a complex problem. There is no easy solution which fits all circumstances and conditions.
There are many reasons why young people interrupt their education; reasons which need to be taken seriously and which require an adequate answer. Young people may need social, financial, emotional or educational support; they may need a new cause or motivation for continuing education and training.
A complex problem such as early school leaving requires strategies which address its multi-faceted and cross-sectoral nature. We need to shift from uncoordinated individual measures to more comprehensive and strategic approaches, which involve all the relevant stakeholders and policy sectors - not just education. Our strategies should be based on evidence and targeted sufficiently to the concrete situation within a Member State or a region.
I am confident that this Recommendation will boost the development of such comprehensive policies.
A European level expert group which the Commission plans to establish will facilitate the exchange of experiences and good practice and help to further develop effective and efficient policies to reduce early school leaving.
The Commission will support this work also by monitoring developments in Europe, by supporting comparative research on early school leaving, and by identifying trends and providing feedback to the Member States in the context of 'Europe 2020' and 'ET2020' [Education & Training 2020].
The Report on Progress in meeting the European Benchmarks for Education and Training (IP/11/488) sets out the most recent comparable evidence about early school leaving but also covers our shared objectives for education more generally, including early childhood education and learning mobility. I commend it to you as a valuable source of information which can help guide your important work in this and in other educational fields. "
Prevention policies aimed at children with a socio-economic disadvantaged background including Roma
"The particular situation of early school leaving among Roma children needs specific, sustained and targeted attention. In the Commission's Communication on Roma Integration Strategies adopted in April (IP/11/400), we have highlighted that in Member States with large Roma populations, the emphasis may need to be placed first of all on ensuring completion of primary education – only after addressing this challenge can early leaving from secondary school be tackled.
As a concrete contribution to help deal with the profound educational problems of Roma children, I want to inform you of my intention to launch, jointly with the Council of Europe, a programme to train, over the next three years, 1,000 Roma people as mediators. The aim is that they should work to bridge the gaps that exist between Roma children, families and communities and the schools and other services which are meant to serve their needs. I will sign the agreement to launch this process with the Council of Europe in July."
One in seven young people in Europe quit education or training without adequate qualifications and this harms their personal development and job prospects. The measures proposed by the Commission will help EU countries to achieve their joint target of reducing the share of early school leavers in Europe from 14.4% now to less than 10% by 2020. This would mean at least 1.7 million fewer early school leavers. Member States have set national targets to reduce early school leaving, taking account of their relative starting positions and national circumstances.
Commissioner Vassiliou presented the action plan on early school-leaving in January (see IP/11/109).
To find out more:
Early school leaving in Europe – questions and answers (MEMO/11/52)
Share of early school leavers by country
By 2020 a share of early school leavers of no more than 10% should be reached.
Trends: In EU 27 the share of early school leavers (population 18-24) declined from 17.6% in 2000 to 14.4% in 2009 (females: 12.5%. males: 16.3%).
Best EU performers: Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia
ePractice Digital Literacy Workshop on Digital Competences for Social Inclusion Actors and Intermediaries
This report reflects the presentations, discussions and conclusions on a "Digital Competences for Social Inclusion Actors and Intermediaries" workshop organised in the context of ePractice Digital Literacy community (Brussels, 12 October 2010). The purpose of this workshop was to identify good practices and success criteria regarding ICT-enabled training, resources, and tools for developing digital competences for intermediaries and social actors (professionals, volunteers, carers, actors in general from the Public and Third Sectors) to support them on their job on providing assistance to groups at risk of exclusion and on fostering their digital, social inclusion and economic participation. As a result, six policy options for the development of digital competences for intermediaries were identified and debated by participants.
Young adults with disabilities, and especially those with learning difficulties, have been going on to tertiary education in increasing numbers over the past decade. More are gaining the prerequisites for tertiary education as policies to promote the inclusion of disabled people developed over the past 20 years bear fruit.