Professor Gregg Vanderheiden has a record of achievements in enabling the differently abled to use technology such as personal computers and automated teller machines. Through Raising the Floor, an international organization that he established, Professor Vanderheiden is working on an ambitious initiative to create a platform that will make it possible for various interfaces to “morph” into forms accessible to users with disabilities (which includes many people who are not so identified ordinarily).
For the interfaces to be fully responsive to the unique needs of each of the users, the platform would have to know about their preferences and behaviors. Raising the Floor is taking the issues of putting in place strong safeguards for these data and to ensure that harms are avoided. For this purpose, they convened expert groups in Geneva and Washington DC. I attended the Washington consultation, not only because of my knowledge of privacy issues, but also because of our ongoing efforts in Myanmar and Nepal to use ICTs to include the differently abled in the information society.
The consultation was well designed and was hopefully fruitful for the organizers. Our thinking on ICT-based inclusion was advanced. We hope to build on this foundation.