The big AEGIS innovation lies in the fact that, while there have been limited and rather isolated attempts at addressing a few specific pieces of this ICT development process, never has such a comprehensive and holistic approach been taken, and never on so large a scale (encompassing rich Internet applications and mobile devices, in addition to the desktop).
The fundamental scientific objectives of the AEGIS Open Accessibility Framework, towards the achievement of which the project will steer the Consortium’s research are:
In addition to this overarching, framework approach to providing generalised access to mainstream ICT, AEGIS will also address two of the key purposes for which people use ICT – for creating accessible documents and information, and for communicating with other people in an accessible manner. For document and information creation, the project will bring the latest research into assistance for people with cognitive impairments into use with a popular, open source office suite. Further, AEGIS addresses the issues of accessibility document creation by building direct support for DAISY digital talking books and Braille and large print to that office suite – so that AEGIS aids not just developers, but also document authors – in the AEGIS project. To aid the deaf community in communicating with one another and with people outside of that community – and also with emergency services – the project will build into mainstream ICT communication software the ability to communicate using real-time-text. Our objective is to demonstrate how virtually every existing mainstream ICT communication application can utilise these techniques to affordably integrate and support real-time-text within their existing communication product. For people with speech impairments, AEGIS will develop and demonstrate affordable – and open source – AAC applications that can be embedded into future mobile devices and desktop systems.
The final, core objective of AEGIS is to address the major economic barriers to e-Inclusion. The project takes the traditional approach of involving key industrial partners in the consortium, and then goes a step further by developing all of infrastructure, developer's tools, our prototypes assistive technologies – the vast majority of code in this project – under an open source software license. This will allow mobile device manufacturers to extend, complete, and embed these assistive technologies into their products at no cost. It will also allow desktop systems to include real-time-text communications systems – that interoperate with those on cell phones and PDAs – at no cost. It will allow developer to obtain the developer's tools and user interface component sets to create accessible applications at no cost. And it will allow the translation and customisation of these access solutions to the languages and needs of every EU Member State.