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European digital inclusion strategies highlited at the 2nd M-Enabling Forum Europe
International Conference and Showcase for Digital Accessibility and Assistive Technologies alongside REHACARE 2019
With close to 200 participants, exhibitors, sponsors and individual attendees from 25 countries, the numbers showed a substantial increase over the last edition with an expanded international audience. Attendees took advantage of the conference breaks for intensive networking and of the showcase to learn about the latest technologies presented by exhibitors. Fundación ONCE from Spain and Aktion Mensch from Germany were the lead sponsors of the M-Enabling Forum Europe 2019 edition.
Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero, Senior Expert, Disability & Inclusion, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the European Commission delivered the opening keynote, giving a comprehensive update on the latest European legislation and its ongoing implementation by Member States. She pointed out that, because technology is advancing at a fast pace, the European Commission is trying to look ahead and anticipate possible challenges of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics etc. She also provided details on how the European Commission has initiated the implementation of several accessibility standards. These include the accessibility standard for public procurement EN 301 549 as well as the recently finalized standard for Design for All, EN 17161.
After her keynote address, experts from different countries reported about the experience in their respective regions. The following plenary session showed an exciting and lively exchange about the latest advances in technology and their impact on user experience, chaired by Christoph Jo. Müller, Board President BEH Association of Manufacturers and Retailers of Assistive Technology in Germany.
In the afternoon, conference attendees actively participated in three parallel sessions: Solutions for Senior Living in the City and at Home, Leveraging Technologies for Accessible Workplaces and Inclusive Digital Environments in Education.
After only two years in existence, M-Enabling Forum Europe was described by its participants as a “must-attend” event on the European accessibility calendar.
Alejandro Moledo, Policy Coordinator, European Disability Forum (EDF) summarized the event, “M-Enabling Europe was a great opportunity to gather the front-runners of accessibility in Europe in very exciting times for our region as we expect accessibility to increasingly grow and be more present thanks to all the policy achievements promoting equal access for persons with disabilities.”
In his closing remarks of the M-Enabling Forum, Axel Leblois, President, G3ict, underlined how encouraging it is to see the number of legislative and civil society initiatives at national and European level to advance accessibility, which demonstrates a big change in attitude as compared to a few years back. “Throughout the discussions during the M-Enabling Forum, it became clear that prioritizing human factors is crucial to successfully design and produce inclusive technologies that are adopted and actually used by persons with disabilities. This can only be achieved by creating even more collaborations, more partnerships, bringing-in more stakeholders and working on making the world accessible together,” highlighted Axel Leblois.
The 2nd M-Enabling Forum Europe ran parallel to REHACARE. Organized by Messe Düsseldorf, REHACARE is the largest trade show for innovations focusing on rehabilitation, care and independent living with 38,600 visitors and 751 exhibitors. The next edition of M-Enabling Forum Europe will take place September 24, 2020. For additional information and options to participate as attendee, exhibitor or sponsor, please visit the website www.m-enbling-europe.com or contact E.J.Krause & Associates office in Germany
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