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The Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards is a contest to promote the development of IT applications designed to improve the lives of those with disabilities and people that are older, to help them get more actively involved in society.  Is part of the Vodafone Foundation’s ‘Mobile for Good’ programme, which supports initiatives around the world which use mobile technology to drive positive social change. The awards are helping to extend the smartphone revolution to as many communities as possible.

In 2012 we celebrated the II Edition after the great results of last year competition. This year we have received  85 apps and the Round 1 Judges have selected the 12 finalists. 

Finalists presented their application to the jury in a final event that took place 17 December 2012 in Brussels. The Final Jury selected four winners, one per category, that shared a 200K€ prize fund:

  • Ablah (Wellbeing category): Ablah is an augmentative communication application. Using images, text and sounds, the user can communicate with others by making the device speak for them. The program is customisable to suit the needs of each user. The Ablah system is based on the exchange of images, sounds and text via the touch screen devices. The backlit display has been found to be particularly successful with autistic children, and the ease of use of the application makes Ablah an essential tool for therapies and learning. Among other things, Ablah users can create sentences and simply ask for their primary needs to be met.
  • Jaccede (Mobility category): The app enables users to search for places that are accessible to those with a disability. Information, such as whether the entrance is step-free and accessibility of toilets, is displayed alongside photos, user comments and other relevant information. Users can contribute by adding accessible places anywhere in the world, or by editing existing listings. Download from Google Play
  • Happen (Independent living category): This app allows users to search for information on a range of different topics, including daily news, weather and sports scores. The information is presented in a format adapted to each user's needs, either visually, motor-based or by supporting spoken feedback. This application is aimed at the elderly and visually impaired. Download from Google Play
  • Starting Blocks (Social participation category): The app is aimed at people new to mobile technology, particularly the elderly. Starting Blocks teaches the skills necessary for using their Android device, including coping with the unfamiliarity of using a touchscreen device. Download from Google Play

The Smart Accessibility Awards are supported and co-organised by AGE Platform Europe, the European network that promotes the interests of the 150 million people aged 50-plus in the EU, and by the European Disability Forum (EDF), the NGO that represents the interests of 80 million Europeans with disabilities.

The winners of the Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards were announced at a ceremony attended by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

Reding recently announced plans to propose a European Accessibility Act, which included measures to improve the accessibility of goods and services in Europe. The Act is expected to address a range of issues, including improving the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities throughout Europe.

Reding said: "Accessibility should not be seen as a burden. There is a strong economic case for it. Accessibility offers new business opportunities, as the candidates of the Smart Accessibility Awards have demonstrated. And better accessibility solutions in smartphones allow citizens to be informed, to communicate, to learn and to take advantage of the host of possibilities made possible by modern information and communication technologies. Therefore, a big thank-you to the Vodafone Foundation for promoting accessibility through the Smart Accessibility Awards."

Andrew Dunnett, Director, Vodafone Foundation, said: “Mobile technology is an enabler - a tool to educate, inform, simplify and improve people's lives. This year's Smart Accessibility Awards winners have demonstrated this potential and have shown the significant opportunities mobile brings.”

Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary General, AGE Platform Europe, said: “AGE is very pleased with the results of the competition. In today’s context of demographic change, well designed apps can play a key role to support older people’s full participation in society and independent living. The winning apps are clear examples of what can be done to facilitate equal access for all. AGE would like to congratulate Vodafone Foundation for their initiative which, we hope, will inspire others to adopt an approach based on the concept of Design-for-All.”

Yannis Vardakastanis, EDF President, said: “Accessing information is a key element for the inclusion and active participation of persons with disabilities in society. The ICT world develops at high pace and persons with disabilities shall not be left behind: applications are increasingly viewed as the future way of connecting to the web and they must be made accessible in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

Workshops for developers

As part of the dissemination activities of the Vodafone Smart Accessibility Awards, Vodafone Spain Foundation with the support of Mobile Monday Organization, NCBI Centre For Inclusive Technology, the IIA Irish Internet Association and NDRC National Digital Research ran several workshops for mobile apps developers on July and August in different european cities.

The main goal of the workshop was to illustrate the diverse needs of people with different disabilities, as well as older people, and to highlight for developers the interesting design challenges and opportunities that arise from accessible mobile application development.

Each Workshop was divided in three sessions:

User perspective and personal experience: This session gave you the opportunity to fully understand the challenges faced by users with disability needs preferences and the main barriers. The session was run as a panel with 3-4 users who will share their personal experiences with mobile technology.

Technical session with demonstration of tools and applications: See real life examples of mobile solutions that improve the accessibility of mobile devices. Assistive technologies such as screen readers or alternate text entry systems, accessible applications that have been developed with the design for all paradigm or mobile simulators were presented. This was an interactive session that allowed you to test these applications with several mobile devices and see how these technologies improve the quality of life with users with disabilities.

Simulation of disabilities and videos of user testing: Feel what it's like to experience a disability through a simulation / video of user testing. Also got a chance to discuss how daily life with an impairment changes your design and testing practices.

Workshops:

  • Amsterdam: 18 July from 10:00 - 14:00h. Venue: Vodafone Premises in Amsterdam.
  • London: 19 July from 15:00 - 18:00h. Venue: UCL Anatomy Building, Room B15, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT
  • Madrid: 26 July from 10:00 - 13:00h. Venue: Fundación Vodafone España. Avda. de Europa 1. Edificio A. 28108 Alcobendas (Madrid).
  • Dublin: 21-22 August from 10:00 - 17:30h both days. Venue: NDRC, Crane Street, The Digital Hub, Dublin 8, Ireland.
  • Berlín: 30 August from 10:00 - 14:30h. Venue: Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin. Haus Gauß. Room B501. Luxemburger Straße 10. 13353 Berlin.

Submit Your Entry

Competition entry is now closed.

You can still view the Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards full entry criteria here, and competition terms & conditions here.

Key Facts

  • Entry Phase: 30th May ~ 15th October 2012
  • All entries must be received by 12:00 GMT on the closing date of 15th October 2012.
  • Round 1 Judging: 16th October ~ 15th November 2012
  • Final Judging Round (Location - Brussels): 17th December 2012.
  • 4 winners: €50,000 each 
  • 1 winner per category (4) 
    • Social participation 
    • Independent living 
    • Mobility 
    • Wellbeing
  • Entry Criteria / Selection Process Details
  • Competition Terms and Conditions

Promoters

Vodafone Foundation Logo

European Disability Forum logo

Age Platform Europe logo

Organized by

Logo of Vodafone Spain Foundation