What is Cloud4all?

Cloud4all is an international project funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union. Cloud4all will provide automatic auto-configuration of the accessibility features of any interactive system based on the needs and preferences of the user, advancing the concept of accessibility for all, anytime and for any device envisioned by the GPII. In that sense, Cloud4all will build the knowledge base and algorithms needed and evaluating the ability of the GPII concept to work across platforms, technologies and applications. In the end, Cloud4all will provide automatic configuration of the accessibility features of up to 17 devices, platforms (such as Android, Windows 7 and Linux) and applications (such as Maavis, Mobile Accessibility for Android, Read&Write Gold, etc.).

Cloud4all is led by Technosite, with technical management from Raising the Floor International. The Cloud4all Consortium includes 24 partners from 9 European countries, plus the United States and Canada. You can get more information about our objectives, the Consortium, and the work done so far in Cloud4all’s official website.

What is the GPII?

GPII stands for Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure. GPII is a project of Raising the Floor, a consortium of academic, industry and non-governmental organizations and individuals. GPII is a global effort that aims at creating the infrastructure for making the development, identification, delivery, and use of Access Technologies easier, less expensive and more effective. You can get more information about GPII’s objectives, benefits, etc. in GPII’s website.

What is the relationship between Cloud4all and the GPII?

GPII is a global effort that involves several academic, industry and non-governmental organizations and individuals from all around the globe. Cloud4all is a European project funded by the European Commission that will build key parts of the GPII. Cloud4all will focus on the development of the technical components that will ensure the provision of the auto-configuration of the accessibility features of different devices, platforms and applications.

How will Cloud4all/GPII improve the accessibility of interactive systems?

Cloud4all/GPII will tackle one of the main barriers of entry for many users when facing interactive systems: the configuration of the system’s settings. Once the user has declared their needs and preferences (e.g., display in high contrast, using a screenreader, etc.) in an easy, platform-agnostic way, any Cloud4all/GPII-compatible device the user encounters will automatically adapt its accessibility features to accommodate the user’s needs and preferences (e.g., changing the theme to high contrast, launching any available screenreader, etc.), without any intervention from the user. If you want to see some examples of potential use of Cloud4all, check some user stories in our blog.

How will it work?

Cloud4all/GPII aims to be totally transparent to the user. When Cloud4all is installed on a device or application, you will just have to identify yourself (e.g. just inserting a USB key or approaching a NFC card to the NFC reader or the device) and Cloud4all will personalize the device according to your needs and preferences. Once you log out (i.e. taking the USB off or approaching the NFC card to the NFC reader), the device will come back to its original state.

Are my data safe?

Totally. We do not need any personal information from you, just your needs and preferences when interacting with an interactive system. The needs and preferences will be stored in the Cloud, with no information about your name or id.

So, are you building Assistive Technologies?

No. Cloud4all/GPII will launch any installed Assistive Technologies (ATs) available within the device or platform, depending on the needs and preferences of the user. If the interactive system does not have all the ATs needed to accommodate the user’s needs and preferences (e.g. there is no screenreader installed and the user needs one), Cloud4all/GPII will look up the Cloud for available ATs.

Nevertheless, as part of the Research activities within Cloud4all, we are working on developing a platform that allows the combination and orchestration of different services and applications into complex forms, therefore providing more advanced functionalities and service provision.

Is Cloud4all just a development project?

No. As any FP7 project, Cloud4all is a R&D project that aims at providing innovation in several levels. For instance, the matchmakers are quite an innovative approach, and will use machine learning techniques to calculate the transformation of settings needed to accommodate the user’s needs and preferences to different devices and platforms. Innovation will also be present at the semantic representation of services and solutions. And finally, an innovative approach to context will also adopted, allowing for the personalization of user interfaces depending on environmental information. If you want to keep track of our research advances, check our publications in our stakeholders’ blog or take a look at the deliverables published so far.

Why ‘Cloud’?

Cloud4all aims at providing accessibility for anyone, at anytime, anywhere and at any device. That’s why Cloud4all Architecture has been designed to be highly loosely coupled, allowing most architecture components to be present locally – i.e. at the device, platform or application – and in the Cloud, even simultaneously. Usually, the needs and preferences of the user will be stored in the Cloud. Moreover, in most cases the ‘magic’ of the transformation of generic needs and preferences into device- or application-specific settings will happen in the Cloud. In case the connection is down, lite versions of different modules may be present locally in order to perform simpler, common-use transformations.