Yesterday, I had an excellent opportunity to tune in to an accessibility webinar presented by Clayton Lewis of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) in the United States Department of Education. Lewis has been a partner in the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) project. The GPII is cloud-based and would provide the configuration, user interface, user context adaptation and other tools necessary for people with disabilities to access the internet (including everything available through the internet). When the GPII is implemented, users will encounter their own personalized interface from any public computer, including public access computers in libraries. Users with disabilities complete a personal preference profile indicating needs which is uploaded to the GPII cloud. Then “presto change-o” (it must be magic because I cannot believe that this is possible) any public device and user are linked. GPII explains, “Each information and communication technology (ICT) device will be able to instantly change to fit users as they encounter the device, rather than requiring users to figure out how to adapt, configure or install access features they need. It also introduces a system of shared components and services to reduce cost, increase interoperability, and foster innovation.” Users with disabilities undoubtedly would be well served by the GPII and be able to take advantage of online economic and educational opportunities, participate in their communities, and have greater independence.
Professor Lewis described many new developments linked to the GPII including an international distributed project that would make it easier for people to develop accessible applications, called the Fluid Project. The development of social software to help users share best practices is underway. And the GPII folks are working with many of the companies that provide internet browser services such as Microsoft.
Of course, continued progress on this effort requires funding. Support from the United States might be realized depending on the evaluation of comments submitted to a Federal Register Notice or Proposed Priority for Inclusive Cloud and Web Computing. Let’s be hopeful.