Na Tak meetings are a series of international conferences organized by the Na Tak Association and the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. From 2015, the strategic partner of the conference is Harpo. This edition of the International Conference “(Nie)zależność” (Eng. “(In)dependence”) was held on November 9-10, 2018 in Poznań, Poland.
On the first lecture day when speakers from Poland and abroad visited and where the issues of supporting the independence of people with different disabilities were discussed, a number of exhibitors also presented their products, technologies, and Harpo also the SUITCEYES project.
During the conference, the participants tried to answer questions about independence and what can I do to support the independence of my relatives, patients and other people with disabilities, how to recognize areas in which people we know can strengthen their independence, even if in some degree they will remain dependent on always, etc. Modern technologies have been explored, which are a better and better complement to the functioning of people with disabilities, allowing them to make autonomous decisions, make choices, communicate their needs and function in society.
There was the opportunity to hear four different lectures and participation in eight workshop blocks during the conference. In total, twenty-three outstanding lecturers, both from Poland and abroad, shared with the audience their knowledge, experience and working methods.
SUITCEYES on ATAAC Conference in Zagreb
On 17-19th of October 2018 Harpo partner participated in Assistive Technology and Communication. Conference on the Advanced Technology for People with disabilities in Zagreb, Croatia. The ATAAC conference brings leading world experts and users of assistive technology (AT) and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to Zagreb to present their knowledge and share their experience.
The ATAAC conference hosted poster presentations of organisations using assistive technology (AT) in their work and/or working in the field of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The conference was an excellent opportunity to present SUITCEYES during the poster session and to connect with others in developing AAC methods. We presented our hitherto work and further project’ aims!
Moreover, we disseminated a lot of promotional materials of SUITCEYES. Our stand enjoyed the interest of visitors. We hope that 3-day poster presentation of SUITCEYES held on the conference will result in many contacts and further cooperation between different organisations related to deafblindness.
Presented at the Book Fair, Göteborg, Sweden
Thursday 27 September 2018
Every year since 1985 a book fair is held in Göteborg Sweden, and over the years the event has become one of the largest cultural events in Scandinavia with around 95 000 visitors each year. This four-day-long book fair attracts authors, librarians, book lovers and Nobel laureates from near and far. However, by hosting many seminars and providing fora for dialogue and discussions, the fair goes beyond just books, also attracting other audiences, such as the press, politicians, researchers and the general public. As such, this fair makes a great place to reach a large and interesting group of audiences. At this fair, one can propose different types of seminars and panel discussions aiming to reach different sizes of audiences and different levels of publicity.
This year, due to the newness of the project and its results, which are not yet mature, we opted for a smaller event, by displaying the project poster and participating in a 45-minute long interview-based discussion about the project at HB’s stand. A colleague, Amanda Glimstedt, was the host and conducted the interview in which project members Nasrine Olson and Jan Nolin participated. The interview included questions about what the project is about, how and why the idea originated, the constellation of the consortium, what deafblindness is, why this project would be useful, how research is conducted in the project, what the aims and the challenges are that SUITCEYES will tackle, what the vision is for the project outcome, and what we can do to improve awareness about issues of deafblindness and more.
The aim of this discussion was to inform the audience about the project, disseminate resent research results and raise awareness about the issues of deafblindness. Due to the nature of the talks at the stands, this event involved between 15 to 20 people. Multiple follow up questions were asked by the audience and follow up discussions pursued with interested visitors after the interview session. In connection with this event, around 25 project leaflets were also handed out to the audience.
Founded in 1739, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is an independent, non-governmental organisation which enhances the status of the sciences and their influence in society by promoting science of the highest quality. While involved in many outstanding endeavours, the academy is probably most broadly known, internationally, for its role in awarding the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry and Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Memory of Alfred Nobel for Economic Sciences. The members of the academy are organised in ten subject categories or classes, one of which is the “class for humanities and for outstanding services to science”. On Wednesday 22 August 2018, HB had the privilege of hosting a visit by twelve members of this class as part of which Nasrine Olson gave a presentation of the SUITCEYES project as a main point in the day’s programme.
The presentation included an overview of the project, the consortium, and the most recent research results, while at the same time highlighting issues of deafblindness. An overview of the research in the area of deafblindness was also included, indicating that the research and related technological solutions for people with deafblindness remain limited. The presentation then revolved around how SUITCEYES brings together various competencies, research areas, and organisations (both academic and non-academic) in addressing this societal challenge. This highly competent group of visitors/professors, with a variety of backgrounds from linguistics, psycholinguistics, cognitive science, theoretical philosophy, ethnology, political science and more engaged with the topic by follow up questions and interesting discussions after the event. Even suggestions for new contacts were made which were followed up soon after the event. It was valuable to discuss the project and related issues with this group, and receive insightful feedback, by itself. However, due to the role of this organization in moving science and policy forward, we hope that introducing the group to the focus area of the project, will also result in other longer-term added value.
The second face-to-face meeting of the SUITCEYES project consortium was held on 10-11th of July 2018 in Leeds, hosted by the University of Leeds, School of Civil Engineering. We used that opportunity to review our work so far and plan the next few months.
The first day of meeting was focused on seminar part, in which we welcomed, among others, Leeds Disabled People’s Organisation. The members of this organisation told us about The Social Model of Disability. They mentioned about the independent living that disabled people have choice and control in their everyday lives. They redefined ‘independence’ that it does not mean self-sufficiency, but self-determination. The director of Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People discussed also about the 7 needs for independent living, e.g. accessible information, counselling (or advice/advocacy), accessible housing, technical aids, personal assistance, accessible transport and access to the wider built environment. Important part of this speech was connection of technology with independent living. Assistive technology can be an important part of independent living, but it can be pushed on people as a substitute for human assistance, which they may not want. Technology and human assistance should be seen as complementary to each other. The goal of assistive technology is not to make it so that disabled people can do everything for themselves, but to have more choice and control in their lives. The member of Leeds Hackspace paid attention to distinctions between individual and social models. In this first model the disability is caused by lack of physical / mental capability or capacity. The solutions are based on individual functions and technology replaces missing capability. In the social model the disability is caused by inability of society to meet person’s needs. The solutions are based on function within society and technology meets unfulfilled function. Social model was mainly created by disabled people in response to failings of the individual model. Social model means to do things with or by disabled people (not imposed), not for disabled people like in the individual model. The next issue was design approaches that making things more accessible for people with disabilities and iterative prototyping, collaboration based (customer is part of process) benefits everyone. The speaker thinks that the user should be at the centre of decision making, not a company or other organisation and should have the right to know what their technology is doing & make it work better for them.
Then Professor Anna Lawson from the School of Law conducted a lecture about Human Rights and Legal Frameworks. The last part that day was the workshop: Working with People with Sensory Loss performed by the member of Deafblind UK. We were given the opportunity to learn the first steps in correctly leading a person with deafblindness. For this exercise, we all took turn to lead or wear blindfolds and earmuffs while walking through obstacles, making 180 degree turns, negotiating narrow spaces and so on. All in all, a very useful and insightful exercise. At the end of the day, we had an exquisite dinner with the consortium members. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other better.
The second day of consortium meeting was dedicated to an overview of the work conducted in each of the work packages including the new updates and the next tasks:
WP1: the governance structures, administrative tools, and quality assurance plan are now well in place and will continue to be monitored and improved when needed.
WP2: The work with user-studies has started by developing the interview protocol, identifying the members who will conduct the interviews, and submission of ethic-approval applications.
WP3: Algorithms for real-time object recognition have been developed and tested with very positive results and work with dimensionality reduction, semantic representation, and experiment with a set of sign-language vocabulary has been initiated.
WP4: Experiments with sensors and temperature have been conducted and other experiments were planned to take place in the days following the consortium meeting.
WP5: Experiments have been conducted with successful inclusion of Peltier elements in knitwear. The group were also surprised with a most recent development of a “red dress” as envisioned in the proposal which enables flexible attachment of sensors and vibro-haptic devices on the garment.
WP6: Psychophysical experiments have been conducted to evaluate the viability of thermal interfaces developed in WPs 4 and 5. Further experiments were to follow immediately after the consortium meeting days.
WP7: As a first step in developing designs for enriching learning and social experiences through gamification a survey has been conducted to identify existing gamified solutions for people with vision and hearing impairments.
WP8: The project webpage has been put in place, project brand has been established, social media accounts for the project have been created, the project’s network of contacts has been extended and thereby awareness about the project and its focus area has been created already and will continue to do so.
Following a review of the achievements so far, we examined and refined the project Gantt chart. We also discussed and planned the first project review meeting to be held in October in Luxembourg. There was also an occasion for every partner to see and feel on own skin an example of a vest created in an earlier project by the Leeds group that senses and conveys, for example, presence of obstacles to the bearer and hence acting as a vibro-tactile interface. We also got to touch and feel the first trial prototype of the “red dress” with its nice and compact design presented by the colleagues from the University of Borås.
This second project consortium meeting was an opportunity to meet both old and new members and to move forward project matters face to face. It was also a chance to review plans and decide on the next steps in interested groups of participants. This meeting was very successful and fruitful. The special thanks for the Leeds partner for great organisation and warm welcome of every project member.
A short report by Nasrine Olson
The conference took place in the beautiful Corfu, Greece, on June 26-29, and comprised of multiple sessions, three industrial workshops and seven regular workshops. Two project members, Oliver Korn and I attended the conference and I presented the first SUITCEYES publication, which was a peer-reviewed, full paper, titled, Empowering Persons with Deafblindness: Designing an Intelligent Assistive Wearable in the SUITCEYES Project, on Friday June 29, at the NOTION workshop.
This open access paper is available at ACM’s Proceedings of the 11th PErvasive Technologies Related to Assistive Environments Conference, with DOI: 10.1145/3197768.3201541
As the paper was already available, I used the opportunity to provide a context for the paper, by presenting some general information about the project SUITCEYES. I also included an update on some of the developments/experimentation that have taken place since the writing of the paper earlier this year.
Some of the slides (14 out of 30) related to these points are included below.
The presentation was followed by a short discussion comprising of a couple of questions and a comment that the data that we collect in this project can be very valuable to many others and a request to make as much of it as possible accessible for re-use by other researchers.
Otherwise, the conference was quite relevant for us where multiple assistive technologies and accessibility tools and methods were presented. Topics included for example, multimodal interfaces; gaze as input modality; identity management; audio, visual and tactile cues for remote assistance; haptic exploration of virtual objects; an assistive haptic system towards visually impaired computer science learning; emotion recognition; assistive spatial guidance and vibrotactile navigation; and more. In most of the solutions presented, there was a need for the presence of either hearing or visual senses. It seemed to me that the challenges that are to be addressed by SUITCEYES were unique and breaking new grounds.
The atmosphere of the conference was very warm and welcoming and many interesting connections were made. Food was delicious and the gala entertainment was enjoyable. One might have asked for a better weather, but then it would have become too tempting to skip some of the sessions and miss out. All in all, therefore, a very informative and useful conference. Thanks to the organisers and the participants.
Brussels Hotel NH Carrefour de l’ Europe
Standardisation and standardization committees are an often forgotten channel for dissemination. Standardisation is an important contribution to the development of technology (as well as to other societal areas) in general and is a highly international way of working. There are several standardisation organisations. ISO is perhaps the most well-known. For the electronic and electrical field there is IEC, International Electrotechnical Commission. IEC in turn, is consisting of a huge (>100) number of Technical Committees, each devoted to a certain topic. SUITCEYES was 22 May 2018 invited to speak for TC 100. TC 100 is devoted to visual and audial multimedia (TV, radio, broadcasting). TC 100 wanted to inform themselves on potential, new areas for their standardisation work and haptic communication was one of these.
We were given generous 25 minutes. Undersigned described the origin of SUITCEYES, who we are and where we are heading. Even if we have just recently started some results were mentioned. The focus was on haptics and haptic communication. It seems as if it was new to many in the audience. Ca 30 persons, many from Japan and South Korea.
The speech led to a number of small chats and visit card exchanges. Large companies as Panasonic and Sony are members and active in the TC and showed interest in our work. Here also potential new members of our Advisory Board might be found.
Of special interest was that also three other H2020 project were presenting. Among these Insension. Insension has run for a couple of years already and is devoted to enabling people having profound learning disabilities interacting with digital services. Not only is it the case that some of the questions and research methods we have in SUITCEYES overlap with those in Insension also Harpo is taking part in both. Even if not deciding anything the communication channels are established. Loose discussion of meeting each other for example when SUITCEYES having meeting in Poznan. There will also be a follow up with an interview for their magazine or newsletter.
It could also be noted that undersigned take part in the Swedish chapter SEK, “Svensk Elstandard” who is member of IEC and in the work of SEK on wearables and IoT.
Universty of Borås