eAccessibility Forum meeting

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) held the second meeting of the Digital Economy eAccessibility Forum yesterday. The forum is a platform for exploring eInclusion issues, and developing and sharing best practice solutions across all sectors. Jane Humphries, BIS’ Head of Digital Inclusion, kicked off the meeting by saying that digital inclusion had support from the highest levels of government. Ministers Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaisey, and Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox, have all expressed their strong support of the eAccessibility Forum and its work. Simon Miller, also of BIS, then picked up the reigns and spoke about a review of the European Union framework. He went on to explain that different approaches could be used in achieving eAccessibility goals. As well as primary legislation, secondary legislation and other measures could all be brought to bear. The first of three invited speakers was Sandi >Wassmer of Copious. She echoed Simon Miller’s thoughts and spoke about the need to “legislate, regulate and educate”. This last point was picked up by Chris Mills of Opera, who focused on education within the development community and the work being done in different areas. In particular Opera’s Web Standards Curriculum and the P2P School of Webcraft study programme. The final speaker of the afternoon was Doug Schepers of the W3C. He described the importance of the “contract” between web developers and user agent (browser) vendors that is needed to ensure that content is delivered and consumed as intended. Doug closed his presentation with a look at Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) and the potential they hold for accessibility. It was a good meeting, and good to see many key eInclusion advocates there such as Ian Pouncey from Yahoo! And Robin Christopherson from AbilityNet. Looking ahead, there is plenty for the eAccessibility Forum to do. Aims and objectives include:

  • To help establish a UK position to the implementation of EU Directives, and to the negotiation of proposed EU regulatory measures, affecting access to ICT networks, services and equipment.
  • To support business in exploiting expertise in e-accessibility in the EU and globally.
  • To produce and implement an eAccessibility Action Plan that addresses the issues of people with particular needs so that they can partake fully in the UK digital economy.