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4th European eAccessibility Forum

eAccessibility of Public Services in Europe

12/04/2010, 9:00 - 18:00
Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie - Paris, France

  Version française
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Closing Remarks

Dominique Burger (Paris)
dominique.burger (at) upmc.fr

Speaker's information

photo Burger

Dominique BURGER chairs BrailleNet Association. He graduated from the Ecole Superieure d'Electricite and PhD in Electronics. He works as a Research engineer at INSERM (Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Medicale).

Since 1982, his major research interests have been in the area of interface design for users with visual impairment, particularly in the field of education. He has been participating in several European projects, as scientific manager or coordinator. Dominique Burger is the scientific coordinator of this 4th European eAccessibility Forum



With the Cité des Sciences, the BrailleNet association and its partners, I’m organizing this European e-accessibility forum for a few years now. And I had the impression, during the day, that two strong trends emerged throughout this fourth edition of the Forum. This is what I would like to share with you as a conclusion.

First, we realize, as we deal with accessibility, that the subject is complex. And it explains probably why things are not progressing as fast as we would like them to. But we also realize that, over the years, we have evolved from a pioneers approach -- small groups, small companies and a few adventurous researchers dealing with accessibility --, to a professional approach, widely shared, more methodical, involving quality control, process management, content production, taking into account the constraints of industrial production. This is the first trend I would like to point out for this day.

The second aspect that struck me is a growing convergence between the requirements of accessibility, made for years by the W3C and many of us, and the industrial needs. I will take three examples from very different fields among the topics discussed today:

  1. A large library for the blind in Germany, in Leipzig, is getting connected to publishers and booksellers for the use of their technology platform for the exchange of books. This is something that was unimaginable only five or 10 years ago [see presentation by Thomas Kahlsich in this conference].
  2. In another area, quite close, one could note the convergence between the DAISY format, used to produce digital books accessible to people with print disabilities, and the e-pub format, the format of the electronic book industry. More than a convergence actually: a similarity, as Gerald Schmidt recalled us today.
  3. A third example: software produced by large software providers integrate from the outset “native” accessibility features. For example: Microsoft Office suite offers the opportunity to verify that what you produce, that each product, meets certain accessibility rules. I also note the convergence between companies specializing in accessibility, as HiSoftware, and companies such as Microsoft. I’m mentioning them, but I could mention other companies.

These examples illustrate that accessibility is at a fairly advanced point of maturity.

Now, of course, this maturity must become facts. At various times during the day, it was clear that if accessibility has a cost - not always easily quantified - it also has enormous benefits. I would like that, at the forum next year, we have a session devoted to the issue of costs and benefits of e-accessibility. And I would like that one day we may be able to invoke several examples proving that accessibility is not a cost but an investment, as stated by Nathalie KOSCIUSKO-MORIZET in her opening address. I have felt today, and more than one times, that we are not so far from reaching this conclusion.

Finally, I would like to make an announcement that has already been mentioned by Madam the Minister this morning. I would like to speak to you of the Institute project that we have at BrailleNet. Our idea is simple: the association BrailleNet deals with several activities: this forum for e-accessibility, several activities around AccessiWeb, including those that Denis Boulay mentioned this morning, the label, the documentation production, the trainings, and finally a digital library for people with print disabilities. Our idea is to combine all these activities in an Institute of eAccessibility and to involve the public and private organizations that are already partners in these projects to give greater visibility to their work and to initiate, around these activities, other partnerships to go even further. We want, through this institute to contribute, through extraordinary achievements, to spread the W3C and DAISY consortium accessibility standards.

Logo image for the Institute of eAccessibility

Now I would like to thank everyone who helped us organize this forum:

Video of the concluding remarks by Dominique Burger (in French, on DailyMotion)

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