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Economic literature: papers , articles , software , chapters , books. Decentralization and development: Emerging issues from Uganda's experience. Guloba, Madina. The current decentralization in Uganda originated in the late s as part of a broader effort to restore state credibility and deepen democracy following several years of political and economic turmoil. Barriers, Concerns, and Issues. Rapidly advancing technologies provide a host of new opportunities.


However, they raise a number of issues and concerns as well. If not addressed, technology advances can pose new barriers to people with disabilities, including loss of access to products they had access to before the advances in technology. Inaccessible Interfaces. Many of the same technological advances that show great promise of improved accessibility also have the potential for making previously accessible products less accessible. Increasing complexity of devices and user interfaces. Products continue to have new functions, capabilities and accompanying interface complexity added to them.

These data are for mainstream customers, but the impact of increasing complexity of products on individuals with cognitive disabilities is even greater. As a result, people with cognitive disabilities, including many seniors with cognitive disabilities, are finding it increasingly difficult to find appliances or products they can operate.

The trend toward digital controls. One problem for people with severe visual disabilities is the use of touch screens, soft keys, and display-based interfaces. Instead of knobs or dials that have a fixed function, the functions of the knobs or buttons may change from one moment to the next. The current function controlled by the button is usually displayed on the screen near the control. The use of scrolling cursors on on-screen menus is increasing. Products are becoming more complex, requiring individuals to think in terms of hierarchical menus.

This type of product interface also requires users to operate controls with one hand while they are watching the display, which is difficult for those with certain cognitive disabilities and those without good motor control. In addition, these types of products provide an absolute barrier to individuals who are blind.

Many people who are blind, who have used their own home appliances independently, are suddenly losing the ability to use their stove, washer, or dryer, as old models have to be replaced, and the only products now available use digital displays instead of tactile controls. Devices too small and closed to physically adapt. The move toward miniaturization and device consolidation is leading to devices that are increasingly difficult to handle and operate. For example, where once there were a few very small phones, now most phones are very small and are harder to pick up and operate.

Even the remote controls on televisions and audio equipment are getting smaller. Some have buttons that are very close together or have flat, tactilely featureless surfaces. While some people may prefer small products, the problem arises when there is neither an alternate way to operate these products nor alternate versions of the products that can be handled and used more easily.

Problems also arise from closed systems that do not provide any alternate control mechanism. That is, the products cannot be opened, and no hardware or software can be added to them. E-book readers that do not allow access to the book text so that it can be read by screen reading software and that allow publishers to turn off the native text reading capabilities of the e-book readers is one example. AT cannot read the text, and the e-books' built-in reading feature is purposely disabled by the book publisher. The result is that, for those who cannot see or read well enough to read the visual text, access built-in or AT is denied.

Computers in libraries and other shared use locations are another example of a closed system barrier to access. The personal computer is ordinarily thought of as being open, but it is typically "locked down" in a library so that users are not able to add software, peripherals, etc. Systems that are closed must have built-in accessibility or provide some mechanism for access through an alternate interface.

The same problem exists in university computer labs. Information Services departments that do not want any foreign software installed, or hardware attached to machines, because of the risk of virus or security breaches, are yet another common example. The trend toward automated and self-service devices in public places. The trend toward replacing ticket agents, cashiers, information personnel, and salespersons with less expensive ticketing, vending, cash, and information kiosks will continue as such terminals become more intelligent.

In some cases these information-transaction machines operate alongside their human counterparts. In other cases, humans are completely removed from the scene and replaced by such information-transaction machines. For obvious reasons these machines are designed so that users cannot modify them. Automatic, self-service technology must be designed with a wide range of disabilities in mind, or people with disabilities no longer will have access to these ticketing, vending, cash or information services.

The trend away from face-to-face interaction. This trend takes two forms. The first is the replacement of information and support people with automation. Interactive voice response systems IVRs , Internet help pages that replace product support, and the above-mentioned information and transaction machines are examples of the move away from face-to-face customer service.

Such systems are usually designed for individuals who do not have disabilities, and do not accommodate the variations that people with disabilities present. Interactive voice response systems IVRs , for example, often are not operable in text mode. And if the person who is deaf accesses them through a relay operator, the additional communication delays often cause the IVRs to time out. Inaccessible Web pages can cause a similar problem for individuals who must rely upon technical support available solely through this medium, with no way to contact a human being.

The move away from face-to-face interaction is not occurring solely in information services. Education, commerce, work, and even social interaction are moving to the Web and to computer-mediated telecommunication forms. Universities are offering increasing numbers of educational programs via the Internet. Companies allow or require people to work from their homes or remote offices.

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Even when people are on the same campus, interactions and some types of work activities may be available only via computers and intranets. Some stores have been closed and moved to the Web. Some stores and businesses exist only on the Web. The fact that all of these activities are now computer mediated can potentially be a great benefit to individuals who have disabilities. Computer mediation of the information and interactions makes it easier to translate the information into forms that people with sensory or learning disabilities can use.

Such systems can also be far more usable by those with mobility impairments. However, if these systems and services are not accessible, many important aspects of society, such as education, work, and activities of daily living, will become inaccessible. Moreover, as things such as technical support and certain products and services become available exclusively via the Internet, they become unavailable to those unable to access those websites. The second major concern is that the incorporation of some new technologies into products is causing the products to advance and change so fast that current accessibility techniques and strategies cannot keep pace.

The rapid churn of mainstream technologies is faster than assistive technology development, and even mainstream technologies that are inherently accessible to a particular group can quickly churn out of the marketplace. To complicate the situation further, the convergence of functions is being accompanied by a divergence of implementation. Thus, the gap between the mainstream technology products being introduced and the availability of assistive technologies necessary to make them accessible will be increasing, as will the number of technologies for which no accessibility adaptations are available.

Convergence of function, but divergence of implementation. Much is said about the convergence of technologies, such as the melding of IT and telecommunications functions into a single device. However, a seldom-discussed issue is that the technologies, and standards used to implement them, are diverging. Different industries are creating converged technologies, but each is implementing them in different, and not always compatible, ways.

For example, telephony, music, messaging, and television used to be four separate industries, each with its own technologies.

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Now all four industries are morphing into the others — but using different technologies to do so. Cellular telephones began with voice, and then text messaging was added. The ability to play music and share pictures came next. And now, with phones, users can download and watch television programs or pick up broadcasts. Instant message software began with text messaging, and then voice was added, using a different technology than in cell phones or in VoIP phones. Video was then added, again using a different standard.

New functions continue to be added. Music players originally played only music, but now, using a variety of formats, they have branched into downloading and playing television programs. Voice communication is soon to follow, although it will probably use existing cell phone standards or perhaps VoIP.

Messaging will likely accompany voice communication, using one of the several incompatible text protocols. However, it, too, is rapidly expanding into music and telecommunications. If one is developing technologies on the Internet for broadcasting voice and video, why not also do point-to-point voice and video, or video phone calls?

This is currently being developed within the IPTV structure — using yet another, different set of technologies and standards. Even though what stands out at first glance is the convergence of functions into single devices, a more careful look reveals the divergence. For example, different methods, technologies and standards are being developed for voice communication. The result is an ever-increasing variety of technologies being used for voice, video, text, music, and delivery of television programs. However, few of these interoperate, and often the only common point they have is that the voice call function will work with the PSTN public switched telephone network.

Even within each of these domains there are competing standards. Those forms that are critical for mainstream use voice, and perhaps video will interoperate due to market pressures i. However, individuals who are deaf do not have the same degree of market clout, and have fewer choices about how they communicate with others.

They may even be limited to communications only with others who have the same type of technology, or even the same device. Accessibility provisions designed for one medium text communication on phones, captions on television may be different or not extend to the same functions on other technology.

Lack of interoperability. The ability to patch mainstream technology with modifications or AT is limited both by the very fast churn rate and the increasingly closed nature of mainstream technology. Two strategies for access should therefore be increasingly relied upon: built-in accessibility and built-in interoperability. If mechanisms that allow the substitution of other interfaces are provided, systems that are otherwise "closed" can still be "open" for accessibility. For example, products with USB connectors that can be used to connect generic USB "human interface devices" HID interfaces, such as keyboards and mice, allow users to easily substitute alternative keyboards or mice.

Moreover, these USB interface devices work across hardware and operating systems. For anyone who needs more interface modification than this, however, interoperability standards are non-existent, weak, or not supported. Several interoperability standards efforts have been launched but have faded and disappeared. The standard allows for the operation of electronic products even "closed" products via other devices, which can present an alternate, accessible interface.

However, concern by companies over product identity the interface is what the person sees every day and develops a loyalty to may hamper the adoption of such "alternative interface" standards in mainstream products. Delay in accessibility when new technologies are announced. The lack of any systematic accessibility guidelines creates problems whenever any new technology is announced. Guidelines that are technology-specific will not be applicable to new technologies. Some recent examples:. Unfortunately, the initial and most common form was a visual character identification task that inadvertently prevented individuals who are blind from accessing any site that is protected by them.

Only much later were alternatives developed. However, audible access to the menus must also be provided in order for a user to take advantage of the audio description. Currently, for most DVDs, the user must have vision to be able to select the audio description from the menu. Used in the workplace, it lowered costs but provided no access for screen reader users, since all images and text on the screen were bitmapped images. Cell Phones — These have quickly evolved from simple phones to devices with extensive menu-based functions.

The phones have had all of the hardware necessary for voice output, but it was not implemented, even as an option, until a complaint was filed with the FCC. Hearing Aid Compatibility and Cell Phones — When the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of was passed, an exception was made for cell phones because they were little used at the time. As digital phones were introduced they created severe interference for hearing aid users. Because of the exception, industry did not do anything to make these phones compatible during the initial stage of design. Although some research was conducted after consumers filed an FCC petition in to require hearing aid compatibility, the lack of progress on this issue over the next five years prompted consumers to return to the FCC in with urgent pleas for corrective action.

Progress on compatibility did not begin until , long after the introduction of digital phones, when the FCC approved a schedule by which certain percentages of wireless phones would have to be hearing aid compatible. By this time 88 percent of all wireless telephone subscribers used digital services. History Repeated. As we move forward, the same pattern is being repeated. New technologies, without accessibility, are being introduced.

Only when their use becomes widespread do we require accessibility. The same pattern is being repeated in digital homes, biometrics, e-government, VoIP, digital rights management DRM in digital media, Web 2. Another barrier is created when a type of product is covered under accessibility laws, but the product or product function evolves into a new technology and accessibility provisions no longer apply or are no longer effective.

Some examples of the ways this can happen are:. Technology changing faster than regulations that govern it. Current legislative and regulatory framework is structured around particular types of technology. Rules apply to the built environment, transportation, telecommunications, and information technology.

It is now becoming clear that the lines between these technologies are blurring. If two people make a phone call using the phone in their kitchen, and one is connected to the PSTN while the other is connected via the Internet, is it a phone call? High speed broadband Internet services were ruled by the FCC to be information services and generally not covered under telecommunications laws. Most of the remaining telecommunications requirements, including those requiring accessibility, however, have not been applied to these new technologies, because the FCC has determined that VoIP is not a telecommunication service.

People who switched from their local provider to their cable provider for phone service, using the same phones in their houses, suddenly were no longer covered by the telecommunications accessibility standards and protections. In the future, when people call family or colleagues using IPTV, and share with them video documents while they talk with them, will this be television, telecommunications, or information technology?

If classrooms with built-in tele-collaboration walls allow the class to take place in multiple locations, thus allowing better educational opportunities in rural areas, is this access to a built environment, information technology, or telecommunications? Currently, there are gaps in our laws that require only certain things in certain environments to be accessible. These gaps will increase as new product types are developed. In addition, the shifting of functions into different technology types, such as phone calls now being made over the Internet and soon to be made using television sets, rather than just using the PSTN, will result in functions once protected by accessibility regulations, that are no longer protected.

A model based on function versus technology and a model that is uniform across technologies is needed. For example, instead of regulations that apply only to telephones, access regulations should apply to any technology used for telecommunications. Access requirements tied to technologies that become obsolete, with no requirements for access to new forms of technology. TTYs and captioning are two primary examples. The purpose of the TTY is to allow individuals who are deaf to communicate in text over phone networks. Perpetuation of the technology-specific TTY Baudot code will not serve them, because of connection, transport, and other problems.

What is needed is a generic requirement for a reliable real-time text conversation capability wherever there is voice. This can then be combined with a requirement to interoperate with legacy PSTN text formats and with text in other interconnected voice and text conversation technologies.

This would provide a requirement for the function desired without tying it to past technologies. Similarly, captions are currently encoded within the TV signal. However, that part of the signal would not exist on IPTV or when TV shows are downloaded or streamed from the Internet, so those regulations are ineffective. Restricting captioning requirements to one or a few particular transmission format s will result in growing gaps and for some - no coverage. Funding for old paradigms implemented in new ways. Accessibility challenges can arise when there is a loss of funding for previously covered services as new technologies are utilized.

For example, reimbursement for telemedicine can be problematic. Telemedicine holds great potential for individuals with mobility disabilities — particularly in rural areas. However, third party payers are not reimbursing for telemedicine services the same as for in-person medical services. Another example is artificial personal assistants. As artificial personal assistants become real, effective, and cost-effective, will they be reimbursable?

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If people can live more independent, less expensive, and more productive lives with occasional tele-coaching or security monitoring, would artificial assistants be covered by private insurers or Medicare and Medicaid? Or would assistance and mentoring services not be reimbursed unless the person moves into a nursing home?

Another constraint can arise when funding for mainstream technologies is used to meet an AT need. If mainstream technologies can be repurposed to meet the needs of a person who has a disability better than purpose-built assistive technologies, will they be reimbursable to the same extent and in the same manner as purpose-built assistive technologies?

Open vs. There is currently much debate about whether those who provide Internet connections to a house, or other location, should be able to control the types of information sent to the house, by whom, and at what level of quality connection. What if those who provide the connection are allowed to decide who will be able to provide information to the house e.

If, for a given household, the access or performance preference is determined by the Internet provider to be Company A, and a person in that household who has a disability needs products from Company B because Company B carries the accessible product , the person could be prevented from obtaining the Company B product by the Internet provider's policy. Similarly, if the person needs to use an alternate technology provided by Company C, he or she may find its performance is degraded, causing accessibility problems or even blocked access. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that individuals may have to use their technologies from multiple locations and not just from their homes.

Absent consumer choice, a person with a disability may not be able to call from any house but their own. Unless the Internet operates more like the public road system, where individuals are allowed to take any vehicle that meets safety standards onto the road, rather than having to drive only certain companies' vehicles on certain roads or to certain locations, individuals who must rely on accessible versions of technologies will run into problems.

Digital rights management DRM. A very interesting sub-area in this discussion is digital rights management. While the need to protect the rights of those who publish things is critical, the ability to allow access for people with disabilities must be addressed as well. If content is to be locked so that it cannot be copied electronically, then some mechanism for rendering it in different forms should be built into the secure digital media players. For example, if a digital book can be presented visually but the text can not be read by the operating system so that assistive technology such as screen readers could read it aloud , then a mechanism within the book player for enlarging it and reading it aloud should be provided.

Technologically, this is not a problem, and voice synthesizers with speed control can be, and have been, built into the e-Book products directly. A marketing policy, however, whereby publishing companies sell the print visual access rights for a book to one distributor but the audio spoken rights for the book to another, has created an obstacle. Book player companies have been required to support a bit in their players that, when set by a book publisher, will prevent the voice output option in the book player from functioning.

Thus, even though the book reader is capable of reading the book to the blind person, it will not perform that function if the book publisher sets the bit that tells the book reader to not read this book aloud. The same book is also protected so that it cannot be read by any other technology. Interestingly, advances in optical character recognition and imaging technologies may cause a shift in digital rights management. However, if audio access is tied to marketing preferences, then the problem is likely to persist and must be addressed.

This will be especially important with the rapidly aging population that has increasing difficulty seeing print media. Assistive technologies that exceed human abilities. It is well known that although wheelchair users have trouble with stairs and other obstacles, they out-perform people who are walking on smooth surfaces. For example, in the Boston Marathon the women's wheelchair champion was 20 percent faster than themen's running champion And people who use power chairs and, sometimes, manual chairs, must travel more slowly when walking with someone who is on foot.

We wouldn't think of only funding wheelchairs that went as fast as people walk, but funding limitations have been placed on the purchase of some communication and writing aids that went beyond basic speech or writing capabilities. For example, there have been cases in which a device that only provided speech output was reimbursable, but a general purpose laptop that was cheaper, and that also provided speech output was not reimbursable.

How will this be dealt with when we get to human augmentation, artificial vision, etc.? Like the wheelchair, these technologies are likely to be inferior in some respects but superior in others. Will they be considered assistive technology or performance enhancement? The broader question will come with the provision of assistive technologies for activities of daily living, education, and work.

If the devices restore function up to the level of that of people without disabilities, there would likely be no problem. But what if in providing devices to offset disability, the device gave super-human ability? Would this be covered by rehabilitation programs, government programs or insurance? What if someone with a disability wanted an enhancement in another ability, in order to be more employable? If this could be accomplished via training, would it be covered? Would it be covered if it were augmentation? How is it different? Why is it different? Should it be covered? Rapidly evolving technologies might cause a rethinking of the definitions of disability, assistive technology, and universal design.

At a minimum, they may change the way these words are used and how they are interpreted in legislation, regulation, and eligibility policy. Definition of Disability. Does it depend on quality of vision achieved? Would one qualify for training with the new eye if he or she can see fine but doesn't know how to interpret what is seen?


Does the person qualify for accommodation? Other services? Can the person drive? Will new eye tests for driving be required? What if the eye fails a year later? Does the person qualify for a new eye? Or does the person have to wait for some period of months or years in a "blind" condition before again being classified as "disabled? A person may, in the future, be outfitted with a cybernetic eye, enabling the person to see general shapes for walking, to zoom in with image stabilization to read letters, and to employ OCR to read text.

Assuming the person can now pass current eye tests and read any text, is the person blind? Does the person qualify as blind? If the person qualified for government or insurance funding for the original cybernetic eye, and is now no longer "disabled" will the person qualify for an upgrade or replacement when it fails? Definition of Assistive Technology AT. Currently, there are many definitions for "assistive technology.

Other definitions refer to any technologies, including mainstream technologies that are used by a person with a disability to help offset the disability.

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  8. The definition is not always important, but may be in the case of deciding whether funding, tax breaks, or accommodations apply. Is an accessible mainstream product considered to be AT for this purpose? Is a feature in a mainstream product that makes things accessible considered to be AT or universal design UD?

    If there were an AT deduction for people who must buy AT to offset their disability, would mainstream technology that is accessible qualify? Some of it? All of it? None of it? If not and it does the same thing as an AT product would — why not? Universal design is usually defined as a process, not as a thing or outcome.

    Universal design is the process of creating products that are usable by as wide a range of people as is commercially possible. There is telecommunication legislation that requires products to be accessible when doing so is "readily achievable. Cell phones today have features such as ring-tones or special capabilities, such as GPS navigation, that can be selected and activated from a menu on the phone. Sometimes these features are already in the phone. Sometimes they are downloaded into the phone only when selected.

    Sometimes the user gets the feature for free if included in the price of the phone and service. Sometimes the user pays for the features.

    Sometimes the feature is provided by the phone or service provider. Sometimes it is provided by a third party. Now let's assume that the feature in question is an accessibility feature. If these questions are examined carefully, one can see that the same feature on the same product might be considered AT or accessible design depending on who uses it, how they use it, and who has to pay for it. Why do we Care?

    Definitions are academic unless they are used to legislate, to regulate, or to fund. Unfortunately, all of the above terms are used in all of these ways e. No ready solution presents itself for this problem except perhaps to move away from a model that focuses on types of devices and categorization and toward a model based on function and the role of devices. Part of the solution may be achieved by defining terms in a way that is specific to the context rather than expecting a "one definition fits all" approach for each concept.

    Finally, there should be a broader recognition of the importance of the "business case. None of these technologies will benefit anyone unless they are built into products, made available, and supported. And none of that will occur in any reliable or sustained fashion unless individuals within companies can make a business case for each feature. Net profit is the primary reason products make it to the marketplace and remain on the market, and the primary reason ideas carry forward from one version of a product to other products.

    It is true of every aspect of every product. It is often remarked that the problem is that companies care about nothing but profit— usually with a negative connotation. It is important to note that almost all of the companies involved in information and communication technologies are publicly traded companies, and the "owners who care about nothing but profit" are the public stockholders. Those who own stocks or have pensions usually ask nothing of their stock or pension managers except that they maximize return profit, pension value, etc.

    Environmental and sweatshop issues may sometimes impact shareholders' decisions, but there are no stakeholder directives to companies to "make accessible products" or "do good things for people who have disabilities. It is neither good nor bad. It simply is. It is a force, and a very critical force, that drives industry and makes our economy work. If a goal of our society is to have products that are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, then some way must be found to make products that exhibit these characteristics generate significantly more net revenue for a company than products that do not.

    Business cases come from significant market demand or significant, enforced regulation — both of which affect the bottom line or net profit. In some cases, more accessible and usable products will have a large enough market to generate their own business case. Where the technologies or techniques can be demonstrated to industry and shown to be more profitable than other design options or investments, the features or capabilities will become available through natural market forces.

    For a large portion of the population with disabilities, however, natural market forces have not and will not result in accessibility features in mainstream products over time. Regulation is society's way of injecting social value into the business equation. Regulations can make it more profitable to create accessible products by rewarding accessibility with sales.

    No regulations are effective, however, without enforcement. Without enforcement there is no economic incentive to follow accessibility guidelines. In fact, there is a disincentive because companies that focus on accessibility worry that, while they are spending time and effort on accessibility, their competitors are spending their resources on other activities.

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    Enforcement of accessibility regulations has the effect of leveling the playing field. Companies that invest in accessibility know that their competitors must also be focusing on accessibility. DiploFoundation, Internet Governance Research Project, The protection of the public interest with regards to the internet , February Murray eds , in Human rights in the digital age, Glasshouse Press, Henten, R.

    January Srivastava, I. Lie, February Ofcom, Section 2: " The changing nature of regulation in the public interest " , in Communications - The next decade: A collection of essays prepared for the UK Office of Communications, November The World Bank J. Consumer protection, privacy and digital identity J.