ICT Challenge 7: Independent Living and Inclusion
Note: This is a short overview of targeted activities and is not legally binding. Fuller details on targeted activities are provided in multi-annual ICT work programmes which can be downloaded from this site's Library section
Why is it important?
Between now and 2025 the proportion of the population over 65 will increase from 20% to 28%, and by 2050 the old-age dependency ratio will have risen by over 160% from the 1985 level. The fastest growing group of the elderly population is the very old (over 80 years old).
This new age pyramid has enormous socio-economic implications and demands a paradigm shift in social and health care while creating new requirements for social inclusion and access to public services. At the same time, the complexity and lack of accessibility and usability of many ICT-based products and services is a major barrier for many people. Currently 30% of the European population is not actively participating to the information society.
ICT offers important means to address the challenges of independent living and inclusion by, for example, extending the time during which elderly people can live independently in their preferred environment and providing a basis for a new generation of inclusive products and services that will help integrate people who are at risk of exclusion.
Such systems not only address a societal need, but they also offer a major economic opportunity for European industry.
Where do we stand?
Research in the area of eInclusion has contributed significantly to progress in the areas of eAccessibility, independent living and assistive technology. To move further and respond to the new context, the following issues need to be addressed:
- ever increasing complexity and limited usability of many current products and services;
- lack of accessibility of ICT products and services as well as interoperability with assistive technologies;
- lack of integrated solutions for independent living combining assistive and well-being technologies and mainstream ICT.
Where do we want to go?
One objective is to mainstream and radically improve the accessibility and usability of new ICT solutions for people with disabilities, functional limitations or lacking digital skills.
Another objective is to innovate in assistive technologies for access to ICT by building on progress in emerging technologies.
In addition, new opportunities offered by ICTs will be exploited to help offset the impact of the ageing population, significantly prolonging independent living, and increasing active participation in the economy and in society.
A further aim is to explore the potential of innovative communication and shared creative environments to facilitate social inclusion of marginalised young people.
What impact do we want to have?
The research aims to:
- provide systemic ICT solutions which can increase personal independence, prolong active participation in society and integrate care processes for the ageing population;
- enable open, standards-based and seamless interfacing of general purpose and assistive ICT and embed personalised accessibility features deep into mass-market ICT technology design. This will enable a radical improvement in ease of use of future ICT products and services by people with disabilities and functional limitations;
- provide a quantum leap in development and production of accessible ICT products, content and services through the availability of new tools and methods to allow developers to verify and optimise accessibility at all development stages;
- apply and advance highly advanced assistive technology solutions built around non-invasive brain-computer interfaces;
- build stronger RTD capacity for ICT facilitating social inclusion of marginalised young people through delivery of proof of concept solutions;
- consolidate and strengthen Europe's academic and industrial efforts in the field by creating common longer-term RTD agendas including relevant standardisation efforts and ethical or privacy issues;
- support coordination of constituencies as well as targeted international co-operation; achieving a better understanding of market requirements, barriers and cost-benefit aspects;
- create important new market opportunities for European industry and establish global leadership in inclusive ICT.