How to facilitate equal access for all? – WS 08 2015

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5 June 2015 | 11:30-13:00
Programme overview 2015

Session teaser

This session will look at some of the standards and innovative technologies developed to help different information and connection platforms in providing equal access to the Internet for all.

Session description

In recent years, European countries have developed ambitious strategies and plans to provide universal or near-universal access to the Internet for all.

We are moving from basic broadband to higher and higher speed broadband including to next generation network and from 3G to 4G and eventually 5G.

However, not everyone is able to get online yet. Obstacles include poor Internet infrastructure in remote and rural areas; prohibitive pricing for specific groups such as the young, the elderly or the unemployed; the lack of basic digital skills; and the lack of assistive technologies for the disabled.

This session will look at some of the standards and innovative technologies developed to help different information and connection platforms in providing equal access the Internet to different communities and groups around Europe and ultimately for all. We will specifically look at mobile technologies, public information platforms such as libraries, skills initiatives and assistive technologies for the disabled.

In the last 20 years or so various organisations have developed open standards and programs to facilitate equal access for all:

  • For W3C "the Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, culture, location, or physical or mental ability. When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability." One of the mission of the W3C "is to lead the Web to its full potential to be accessible, enabling people with disabilities to participate equally on the Web".
  • The DAISY Consortium (Digital Accessible Information System) "works towards creating the best way to read and publish". and "also supports and helps to develop inclusive publishing ecosystem for everybody, including persons with disabilities".
  • "The GSMA’s Digital Inclusion programme supports the industry to connect an additional two billion people in developing countries to the mobile internet by 2020".
  • Libraries provide access points as well as skilled staff throughout the world in urban and rural areas and give people the opportunity to access information and possibilities to develop their skill set.
  • The Internet Society advises and engages in a variety of Internet development activities across the globe with a focus on Internet infrastructure development and capacity building.

The session aims to offer new insights and discuss innovative approaches to bringing the Internet for everyone.


equal access, local development, local community, libraries, disability, innovation, assistive technology, digital literacy


Panel discussion with initial key questions launched by the moderator to the panel participants with constant encouragement of participation from the audience (questions, opinions. shares, ...)

Further reading


  • Focal Point:
    • Julia Brungs - International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).
    • Jorge Fernandes - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia of Ministry of Education & Science / Department of Information Society / Access Unit (FCT).
  • Org team: FCT, IFLA and ISOC
  • Key participants|Panelists:
    • Daniel Dardailler - W3C.
    • Mani Manimohan - GSMA.
    • Maarit Palovirta - ISOC.
    • Lars Christensen - Robobraille/Biblus Digital Library.
    • Christina de Castell - IFLA.
  • Moderator: Sébastien Bachollet - ISOC.
  • Reporter: Jorge Fernandes - FCT.
  • Remote moderator: Cláudia Cardoso - FCT.

Current discussion

See the discussion tab on the upper left side of this page

Mailing list


Video record

Video record

Final report

Synthesis report of the sessions 'How to facilitate equal access for all?' and 'Steps to realising equal for all’.

1. Access to Internet

In our session we spoke about:

  • the availability of Internet - related w/ the existence of infrastructures;
  • the affordability of Internet - related w/ the cost of access; the cost of the technology, including the cost of the assistive technology;
  • the accessibility of Internet - related w/ the content (information and services online).

2. Web Standards

With the Media formats increasing on the Internet, the accessibility turns more complex and more difficult to achieve. The standards are an important issue: W3C produces important standards not only to content but also to author tools - important for example to companies like Facebook or Google. In the session we had the demo of Robobraille, a tool that converts documents in accessible formats - this is a good example of the Internet like an accessible tool itself.

Accessibility is important for all not only for the disabled people. With accessibility we have better Search Engine Optimization. Accessible isn’t a violation of copyrights.

3. Electronic Books

Only 1 to 7% of the books published in the world are in an accessible format: braille, audio or text magnified. This was called by the World Blind Union - The Book Famine.

Actually the accessible material produced in a country can’t be exported to another country, forcing the production of a second copy on this last country. We need to realize that for example a braille book in average costs about 1000 Euros.

The Marrakesh Treaty could help to improve the accessibility to books, to textbooks to people with print disabilities and could solve some of these problems. So, the treaty must enter in force and for this happens the states have to ratify it - until now there are 8 ratifications and are needed 20.

4. The importance of Libraries

Libraries are a vehicle to access the information, providing access to people that don’t have it, a place where we can find the technology we need to access, including the assistive technologies. But technology isn’t enough. Libraries are also places to learn and excellent tools to improve digital literacy.

5. Telecenters

In the session was emphasized the important role of Telecenters in Bulgaria to stimulate the demand on the Internet. Telecenters are trying all the time to demonstrate the benefits of the Internet.

6. Role of Government

The state aid in rural areas where the investment barrier is too high, is instrumental to deal with the digital divide. There is also latent demand for Next Generation Access broadband services which need to be stimulated by demonstrating the benefits of the eGovernment, for instance.

7. TLDs and other

In the session we spoke about digital literacies initiatives like eSeniors in France. From France also came an interesting initiative from the .fr - .fr will invests the results of the selling domains on projects to better use the Internet. A practice that maybe others ccTLDs (and gTLDs) also could follow [personal note of the reporter].

8. Frogans Technology

In the session we get a reference from the Frogans technology project (by OP3FT) who intent to be a new and more simple way to publish on Internet.

9. Role of local communities

We discussed the role of local communities as a cross-cutting factor in the development of access. Local communities may play an important role in driving community-led initiatives/pilots. Local communities also should be engaged to promote Internet adoption and demand through services/content/skills.

Session twitter hashtag

Hashtag: #eurodigws8