About the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII)
The purpose of the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) is to ensure that everyone who faces accessibility barriers due to disability, literacy, digital literacy, or aging, regardless of economic resources, can access and use the Internet and all its information, communities, and services for education, employment, daily living, civic participation, health, and safety.
As our countries build out their broadband infrastructures to ensure that broadband reaches everyone, it is important that 'everyone' includes people with disability, literacy and aging related barriers to Internet use. We need to be sure that we don't stop at just connecting people to the Internet - but that we also see to it that they can actually use it, and benefit from all that it has to offer.
The GPII would not create new access technologies or services, but would create the infrastructure for making their development, identification, delivery, and use easier, less expensive, and more effective. Like building a road system does not provide transportation but greatly enhances the ability of car companies and others to do so -- and provides an infrastructure that car companies themselves cannot do. The Internet is the infrastructure for general information and commerce. The GPII enhancements to the Internet would provide the infrastructure to enable the Internet to be truly inclusive for the first time.
GPII is a paradigm shift. The GPII will, for the first time, introduce automatic personalization of user interfaces and user context adaptation based on user preferences. 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.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to fundamentally change and advance accessibility -
- to create an infrastructure that supports both commercial and non-commercial efforts to:
- make accessibility more affordable - to users, industry, government, and other stakeholders
- reach more of the people who need it than the estimated 3 - 15% we reach now
- make it all simpler
- serve disabilities and aging groups we don't now serve or serve well
- to build access that will work with the new technologies that are coming (that won't work with many of our current access strategies)
- and finally, to build something that can be replicated locally in other countries
- countries that don't have good access technologies or infrastructure today
- allowing these countries to provide access to their citizens and visitors as well.
Building an on-demand, personalized, accessible, on-ramp to the Internet
Anytime, Anywhere, Any Computer Access
The GPII would eventually allow people who cannot use standard interfaces and content to be able to use broadband connected ICT anywhere they encounter them. It would provide these people with the ability to invoke the interface adaptations they need, automatically, on any device, anywhere, anytime -- so they can use the same devices in the same places for all the same purposes as everyone else.
Facilitating the Advancement of Both Commercial and Free Built-in or Public Access Technologies
All of the GPII components and systems will be designed to support both commercial assistive technologies and free, built-in access features (universal design). The GPII would include a delivery system, personalization profiles, a system to automatically configure devices to meet user needs, and a rich development system with common modules. It will also include the robust awareness program needed to ensure that those who benefit from accessibility, and their educators, employers, etc., are aware that GPII-based solutions exist and how to find them.
Enabling New Types of Assistive Technology and Services
In addition to lowering development costs and increasing the number of solutions for different disabilities, the GPII can also enable new types of assistive technologies and services, including assistance-on-demand services that allow consumers to invoke computer or human assistance whenever and wherever they need it.
It can also provide a base for researchers and new developers to more quickly prototype new ideas – and move them from the lab to commercial availability.
GPII is a software and service enhancement to our broadband infrastructure designed to:
- allow users to invoke and use the access features they need anywhere, anytime, on any device
- provide users with simple flexible ways (“wizards”) to determine which access solutions work best for them
- lower the cost to develop new types of assistive technology and new built-in “extended usability” features by
- providing rich development tools
- allowing developers, researchers, and consumers to work together to create better solutions with less duplication of effort
- providing common core modules and services that can be used to build both commercial AT and built-in access features
- reduce the delay in affordable access to new mainstream technologies as they are released
- increase the number and variety of developers and invigorating the field by
- lowering the entry costs for new assistive technology developers
- providing a low cost mechanism for moving new ideas from research to the market
- increase the number and types of different access solutions, providing a better match for more types of users
- provide better solutions for low incidence disabilities and combinations of disabilities not served well today (e.g., cognitive impairments, deaf-blindness)
- improve the interoperability between mainstream and assistive technologies
- increase the market penetration for all assistive technologies by increasing awareness and extending opportunities to try and select products and services
- provide a mechanism to create ‘ubiquitous’ accessibility to match the evolving ubiquitous technologies
- lower the cost to governments, businesses, employers, and others who need to provide access to all they serve
- make it easier (less expensive and more realistic) for libraries and other public access points to serve all patrons
- provide these rich, robust tools to citizens of developing countries, affordably
The GPII has the potential to greatly advance and evolve our approach to accessibility - like the Internet did to information technology.
The GPII can help to lower the per capita costs of developing accessibility/usability features and assistive technology by providing a common base from which to start, reducing duplicated efforts around compatibility with new mainstream technologies, and by increasing the market for accessible products though general awareness campaigns and widespread use.
The GPII can break open the field, greatly accelerate innovation, and help move new ideas from research labs to availability and use by people who need them. It can allow consumers, clinicians, researchers, and others with new ideas and different approaches to be able to participate more directly, resulting in better interfaces for individuals with more types, degrees, and combinations of disability. It can increase the sustainability of commercial solutions by simplifying global marketing.
It can allow us to expand the concept of special “assistive technologies” and “disability access features” as we know them today and toward alternate interfaces and “inclusive design” which provide more interface options for everyone - interfaces that work for people having trouble using products due to disability, literacy, or age related barriers. It could also help people who just want a simpler interface, have a temporary disability, want access when their eyes are busy doing something else, want to rest their hands or eyes, want to access information in an ‘enforced silence’ or very noisy environment, etc. The GPII does not single out people with disabilities or those who are older because of their disabilities or functional limitations, but rather provides interfaces that they can use, allowing them to use the Internet as they find it – with access and extended-usability features available as part of it.
The GPII approach can also help by creating and advancing "ubiquitous accessibility" to address the new accessibility problems that will be (and already are) presented by ubiquitous and cloud computing.
But most of all, the GPII gives us our first and perhaps only chance to provide meaningful access to all those who need access, including those with little or no resources.
As we build towards GPII…
Before we can go 'global' we will have to build National Public Inclusive Infrastructures (NPIIs). We do not have a global government or the ability to build, fund, and operate a global infrastructure immediately. Moreover, it is unlikely that countries would like to have all the personal preference information for their citizens stored in some international institution. Policies and programs differ from country to country.
As a result, the best way to build a GPII is to build NPIIs and then federate them to work collaboratively, and by reaching out to help other countries establish their own NPIIs.
Major funding for GPII is currently provided by:
- Cloud4all & Prosperity4All, large scale integrating project grants funded by the European Commission as part of FP7
- Trace Center RERC on Universal Interface and Information Technology Access funded by National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), US-Dept of Ed
- Fluid project at IDRC of OCAD University funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
- FLOE project at IDRC of OCAD University funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
- By the Canadian Government under matching funds for Cloud4all
- And by support from IBM, Microsoft, Mozilla, Serotek and individual contributors.