Components of the GPII

The GPII consists of a number of components that work together to form the infrastructure enhancements needed to make our broadband infrastructure into an Inclusive Broadband Infrastructure.

Brief descriptions for each of these are provided below along with a link to more information on the component.

Note that the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) is focused on anyone who has trouble using information and communication technologies (ICT) effectively including

  • Those with limited or no literacy (including those facing problems with a second language)
  • Those with disabilities or functional limitations
  • Those with limited or no digitial literacy (not familiar with the new technologies being thrown at them)
  • Those who are aging and face these and other problems dealing with technologies they now want to or are forced to use in their environments

The GPII is based on three major components that work together like three legs of a tripod. All three are ncesssary to ensure that this new digital world that we are creating will truly be usable by us all

  1. A way to discover what each of us needs to use this new world
  2. A way to have whatever we need appear (or happen to) every device or digital material we have to use - when and where we have to use it.
  3. A way to make it easier and less expensing to create new, more affordable (for us and society) new solutions

1) A way for people to determine what would help them - and then to store that information safely for future use.

Awareness Programs
Awareness programs(s) that together ensure that everyone knows: 1) that there are ways/solutions/things that can make information and communication technologies (ICT) easier for anyone having trouble using ICT (including them) and 2) where to start looking.

The Needs and Preferences Discovery Aid
An on-line aid to help professionals and consumers discover which of all the techniques and features (that can be found in assistive technologies or built into mainstream products) would make ICT easier or possible for them (or their clients) to use.

Needs, Preference & Permission Storage System
A way (in the cloud or on a personal device) to securely and privately store information on what works for them, how they need to have things set up, and what they have permission to use (products, services) in a way they can use anywhere, anytime.

Unified Listing and Marketplace
A single up-to-date listing of all the solutions available today today internationally - and a marketplace that is safe to try them out and select them.

Shopping Aid
A tool to use with the Unified Listing and the GPII Marketplace help users (and professionals) find everything (techniques, built-in features, assistive technologies) that is known that could help address a person's needs and preferences.

2) A way to use their stored preferences to invoke the access features, technologies and services they need - anywhere on any device they need to use.

Private Preference & Permission Serving System
A mechanism to allow users to privately and anonymously take and use their preferences, permissions, and settings anywhere.

Auto-Personalization Infrastucuture and AnyWhere Delivery System
Automatically personalizes the user interface on devices and materials a person encounters to match their user needs and preferences -- anywhere, anytime, any device. This includes features on the device, services in the cloud or AT as needed.

Accessible Resource Finder-Creator Infrastructure
Automatically finds captions, descriptions, or supplemental information for video or images, or alternate forms for eductaional or other resources if they exist anywhere. If they don't, it provides a way to have them generated on demand through one of the volunteer or paid services.

  • Finds resources that match user needs (captions, descriptions, supplemental information, alternative materials)
  • Provides a mechanism to get captions or descriptions if not on a/v materials
  • Provides a way to transform documents into accessible form if accessible forms not available

Assistance On Demand Infrastructure
Infrastructure that allows users to instantly call up 'assistance on demand' from volunteer or paid services whenever and wherever they need it (for as short as a few seconds).

3) Tools and infrastructure to allow diverse developers and vendors to create new solutions and easily and cost effectively move them to market and availability to users who need them.

DeveloperSpace - Tool Kit & Parts Store
A development environment that makes it easier and less expensive to build new solutions or add new capabilities to the mix. Includes a rich set of both commercial and free and open source components for building new access solutions and services.

Developers Resource Network
A network of users and developers with expertise in creating and testing accessibility solutions to act as a resource to new developers and consumers or professionals wanting to develop, refine, or explore new solutions that can build on what we (collectively) know and create new or better solutions for groups that are or are not yet served.

Assistance on Demand Infrastructure (see above)
An AOD Infrastructure that can make it easier for organization (volunteer and commercial) to create and offer new automated and human services on demand

Unified List and Open Marketplace (see above)
A Unified listing and marketplace that makes it easy for new developers to get their products seen and disseminated to users internationally.

Awareness Programs - "There is a Fix for That"

One of the most critical components of the GPII will be the outreach and awareness component. This component will not focus on awareness of the GPII itself but rather on making people aware that solutions exist and where they should begin their search.

Currently, there is vast underutilization of what is available. Even features that are free and built directly into the operating system go unnoticed and unused by those who need them.

The objective of this component will be to make it just as obvious that there is a fix for people's accessibility and usability problems  as it is that “there is an app for that." When people have difficulty operating information or communication technology, the first thing that should come to mind should be that “there must be a solution for this... something that would make it easier for me.” They must also know where to begin their search.

This will need to be accomplished through a comprehensive program of public service announcements, feeding information to primary resource providers in different communities, and word-of-mouth. It will be most effective if it involves and is useful not just to people with more severe disabilities but to anyone with a significant usability problem with broadband information and communication technologies.

Needs and Preferences Discovery Aid

The GPII Needs and Preferences Discovery Aid

The NP Discovery Aid will be an on-line tool that helps users identify changes to interfaces, or alternate interfaces, that would make ICT and electronic materials of all types easier/possible for them to use.  

Individuals can work with professionals, or, if expert help is not available, use the NP Discovery Aid  themselves.  The Discovery Aid will guide the user through a set of interesting exercises and ask them questions that will allow the NP Discovery Aid to detect problems and test different options for presentation and control.  From this information the NP Discovery Aid will generate a user preference profile that can be used both to adjust features on products and to identify assistive technologies that might be of benefit to the user. 

Other GPII components that would make use of the preference profiles include:

Importance 

Key to most of the functionality of the GPII (and the access features and technologies to be delivered through it) is understanding which types of adaptations are appropriate for a given user -- and what the settings for that adaptation should be for that user.  Without this information it isn't even possible to get the device(s) set up sufficiently that a user could make further adjustments.  Most people do not have any mechanism to find out what they would need.  Professional evaluations are best, but many people cannot afford one -- or there simply isn't anyone available in their area to do an evaluation.  

Also - a key to adoption of access features by elders and others depends on their being treated as usability features or extended-usability features rather than disability access features.  Formal evaluations make many people feel like they are broken - rather than just needing some adjustments to their interfaces to make them easier to use.

The goal is to make the evaluation tool something that anyone might use to figure out how to make interfaces fit their needs and preferences.

Bringing together the work of many

The NP Discovery Aid will draw from, and build on, the work that has already been done by different  teams to create tools for specific disabilities or platforms.  The Discovery Aid  will be cross-disability and cross-platform, and will be open source so that others may build on, extend, improve, or offer alternative mechanisms or services for creating preference profiles.

It will also be possible to combine the results of the general  NP Discovery Aid  with the output of wizards that are designed for specific platforms.  For example, if a particular platform or technology has a wizard that is effective at determining the setting for its platform, the output of that wizard could be captured in the standard format and used to inform the GPII’s more general  NP Discovery Aid. Later - when users are on that platform - the platform specific settings will be brought forward and used.

Private Preference & Permission System

The Personal Private Preference and Permission Profile

The CORE of the GPII is the Personal Preference and Permission Profile and the servers that store and securely (and, when appropriately, anonymously) serve the preferences.

The Preference and Permission Profile will be based on an extension of the Access for All standard (ISO/IEC JTC1 24751) with an added dimension to include permission or authorization data.

The Profile will include:

  1. The user's generic information on preferences or needs with regard to content or user interfaces
  2. Specific settings for devices, configurations, environments and/or tasks
  3. Data on accessibility services or content that the person is authorized to use or view. This includes commercial assistive technologies that the person is authorized to use on different computers.

The preference servers will:

  1. Allow users to call up and apply their preferences from different computers
  2. Allow users with disability to call up and apply their preferences anonymously where other users without disabilities can operate a device or service anonymously
  3. Allow users to access disability services (e.g., talking books or translation services) or use commercial AT by proving their eligibility via the permissions feature in the server.
  4. Allow users to call up and apply their preferences using a wide variety of methods to match user needs including
    • by just typing in a short URL
    • by using a small device the user would just plug into a USB port
    • by using a generic url followed by voice or face or other recognition technology

As noted above, this component is the heart of the GPII.  It is what allows users to be able to invoke and set up their access features in a simple and straightforward manner.  Without this mechanism, a large number of users would find setting up and using the GPII (or any access technologies) impossible on any but a single home system.  With this service (and the auto-personalization services), personalization of user interfaces and adaptation of content can be automatic and almost magic: when a person comes up to a computer or other device it automatically adjusts to a form they can use.

Importance of Security,  and Operation of this Service as a Public Service

It is essential that this preference server be operated as a public service and in both a secure and private manner.  Using usage data from this server or any profile information could lead to people using the information to identify vulnerable users or to target them with advertising (for example - targeting people who are easily confused with complicated services or offers).

This is not envisioned as a single server - and it does not need to be. It is expected that countries will want to maintain their own preference servers for their citizens. People should be able to select the server they are interested in having store their preferences, and it could be anywhere - since the address of the server can be included in the request for preferences.  Requests for preferences stored outside of a country will be common (necessary for travelers).

Standards are also critical to the functionality of this component - and the ability to use the personalization profiles to drive all of the other components. International standardization activities will be a key activity here.

Shopping Aid

There are many different types of access features and assistive technologies.  Users and even professionals find the array bewildering and often just rely on a small set of features and technologies and apply them across users.  This is not a full spectrum of what is available, and this set also tends to not be updated as new solutions become available.

The purpose of the Shopping Aid is to compare the user's personal preference profile and the full spectrum of access techniques and technologies. It then can present the user (or professional) with a listing of the different types of solutions, and a listing of the different specific accessibility products, accessibility or usability features in mainstream products, or public access tools that might be useful to the person.

If the person is new - it can also provide them with a temporary solution that is sufficient for them to use when exploring the other options.

This is a key component in the infrastructure.  Its effectiveness both to users and to new developers comes from its neutral or 'level playing field' nature. The tool can provide a listing of everything across access vendors, mainstream technologies, and public tools. Combined with the "Unified Listing" and "GPII Marketplace" and its user rating system - it can provide users with the ability to explore all that is available, and to make them aware of new solutions from smaller vendors as well as tried and true solutions.

Unified Listing and Marketplace

The Unifed-Listing and Marketplace serves three important purposes in the GPII. 

Unified-listing

First - the Unified Listing will act as a place where all existing solutions to ICT access can be found.  This includes

  • Commercial products  (open-source and proprietary)
  • Free versions of commercial products  (trials and limited versions)
  • Free AT  (shareware or freeware)  (open-source or proprietary)
  • Accessibility Features and programs that are built into commercial products

It will be the first place (and currently only place) that all of these solutions (including build in solutions) are brought together in one place.   This will be a federated listing, meaning that it will draw information from many different sources (each credited on a per entry basis) in order to create a collaboration on the formation and maintenance of the listing.  It will also include (compesated) crowsourcing to ensure update and accuracy.

GPII Market Place

GPII will also maintain a linked but separate (from Unified Listing) GPII Marketplace  where companies can list their products for sale.  It will include both commercial and free entries.  It will also include user ratings and information on support and record for keeping the product updated so what commercial products can clearly show any advantages they have over free products.

The GPII Marketplace will allow new and small vendors to more easily bring their products to market and make them known and will have features to help screen out unsafe software and solutions.  By providing a place to easily find the different solutions, in a manner that sorts itself based on the user's needs and preferences, it can allow new vendors to more easily bring their products to market and make them know to those who could use them.

Try-out Room

The Try-out room will be available for some products in the GPII Marketplace.  It will allow people to either see and/or try out products themselves before they purchase or download them - to allow them to see what the products look or work like.

Shopping Aid

An important companion to the Unified Listing and the GPII Market Place is the ShoppingAid that will help match user's needs and preferences to the solutions available.

Unified AnyWhere Delivery System

The Unified Delivery System is the backbone of the GPII. This is actually a set of different delivery systems that work together to provide users with the options they need in different environments with their different constraints. Virtual software (that runs in the cloud),  download-and-install, run from local server, software on a stick, and hybrids of the these are all included.

Key to the system overall is that it will support solutions from all vendors and allow them to be mixed with each other as needed, as well as being combined with built in access features in mainstream products. As a result, a user can come up to a computer and have the proper set of  built-in and external access technologies (from one or more vendors) appear on the computer, configured to their needs.

This delivery system will exist part in the cloud and part on the systems themselves. Although some of the delivery mechanisms can be used with products that are not aware of the delivery mechanism for solutions, the most effective delivery mechanisms, and most transparent to the user, will result from collaboration between the Unified Delivery System and the target mainstream products.

It is the combination of the evaluation Wizard, the preference server, and the  Unified Delivery System that makes the system effective enough, and simple enough, to be usable by the majority of people who are not highly technical and familiar with these access technologies.

The goal is to have completely automatic personalization and content adaptation.

Auto-Personalization Services

This component of the GPII is the workhorse - and perhaps the most complex and difficult to implement.  It is however also what makes things simple for users, public access points, and organizations accommodating their employees and the public.

The Auto-Personalization service takes the users preferences and, in combination with information about the device being used tries to find versions of the requested material (content or services) that match the user's needs and preferences. It looks to the platform and sees how it can adjust the platform to meet the users needs. And if the platform cannot meet their needs (or the user has registered a preference for another solution that will work with this platform) the auto-personalization service would retrieve that assistive technology and configure it for the user.

Some of this service can be done through post-hoc patching and programming. Most however will require collaboration with the platform and with web services.

When it is all working - the auto-personalization function will be invisible and users will simply find that when they approach and use technologies the technologies automatically adjust to the user's personal preferences and materials are automatically adjusted to accommodate them.

Caption and Description Finder

The full name of this piece of the GPII is the Caption, Description, and Supplemental Resource Finder.

The purpose of this component of the GPII is to find accessible versions of content or to find the supplemental accessibility information needed to make content accessible. For example, if a user who is deaf comes across a movie without captions, this feature can determine if there are captions for the movie anywhere on the web and fetch them so that they can be played in synchrony with the movie. Similarly, an individual who is blind may need descriptions for movies or images. Or an individual with a cognitive disability may need supplemental explanation to accompany content.

The resource finder will be designed in such a fashion that, if the needed supplemental information cannot be found, it can be requested either from a volunteer source or from a paid source. Once generated, the information could then be made available to all. For popular events, a mechanism could be provided for individuals to offer partial payment in contribution to a pool. When sufficient funds are accumulated, the resource would be provided for all.

The GPII would not operate such services, but would only create the infrastructure to allow others to build and operate such services.

The three major components at this time, and the lead members of the consortium working on them, are:

  • Finds resources that match user needs (captions, descriptions, supplemental information, alternative materials)
  • Provides a mechanism to get captions or descriptions if not on a/v materials
  • Provides a way to transform documents into accessible form if accessible forms not available

Assistance On Demand

One of the exciting aspects of the GPII is the potential it holds for supporting the development of whole new types of accessibility services, either as stand-alone services or in combination with other access solutions. One of these is a concept that has been discussed for many years but has not been possible to put into widespread application: Assistance On Demand across a wide variety of services.

Basically the idea is that many individuals are unable to live, work, or travel independently  because there are occasions when they need assistance. An individual with a cognitive disability, for example, may not be allowed to travel independently even though for the most part they would be able to handle it just fine. The problem is that, on occasion, something happens which they cannot handle. Rather than avoiding travel (or being prevented from traveling independently) it would be better if the individual had the ability to call up assistance instantly in those circumstances where they needed it (without having to have the assistance with them the rest of the time).

Assistance On Demand could be of value to individuals with all types of sensory, cognitive, language, and learning disabilities, and even some  types of problems encountered by individuals with physical disabilities (for example, with electronic interfaces).

Again, the GPII would not operate such services but would provide the infrastructure needed for others to provide such services.

DeveloperSpace

The purpose of this component of the GPII is to both facilitate compatibility and interoperability, and to enable a more rich and diverse set of solutions for a wider range of disabilities and combinations of disabilities. By providing a rich development environment and common components, it is possible to reduce the need for developers to duplicate efforts on the basics and instead focus their activities on the development of more advanced functionality and new features and capabilities.

The Developers Space is split into 4 categories:

Parts Shelf:

The Parts Shelf is a collection and cataloging of software components and services that a developer can use in creating new commercial and free accessibility solutions.

Tools:

While the parts shelf holds components that are useful in an application, the Tools section contains things that are useful when building your product. For example, an accessibility checker.

Framework:

Frameworks are more complete solutions which developers can use when creating their product. Frameworks are more along the lines of complete base, platform or environment from which to build your AT. It can be considered a special class of parts that provide a wide range of abilities, parts, structure etc.

Resources:

The ressources section contains a collection of useful information for AT developers. The information found here is not limited to the implementation part of AT development. Amongst other, it provides providing mainstream designers with the information they need to make their products more accessible from the start - including personas, design patterns, use cases, and other design resources that take into account the needs of people with disabilities. Ressources on currently available solutions, types of needs, etc., can all be found here.

Developers Resource Network

Key to the development of any new solution is the expertise brought to the project. The purpose of this component is:

  1. to allow new people (consumers, professionals working with consumers, developers, and others) to bring expertise to the field - and join it to the expertise already there; enabling us all to draw from experience and bring in new ideas
  2. to allow those with particular expertise to be matched to those who are developing things who need it
  3. to allow new people who would like to contribute to the field to be able to more quickly create solutions that extend rather than duplicate the field - and to avoid some of the mistakes made by the rest of us as we started out