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Easing the access of Europeans with disabilities to converging media and content

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EASYTV (Easing the access of Europeans with disabilities to converging media and content)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-06-30

Even in the poorest countries and societies, media has great importance because it provides the channels, networks,formats, and languages through which much of life takes place and finds meaning. So, it is of real concern that people with functional limitations may not have access to either the media or the information provided through specific channels (TV, movies, newspapers, magazines, the Internet and more). Ensuring a barrier-free life for people with disabilities and enabling access to the media and content for All, is crucially important in today’s EU society with more than 80 million Europeans with disabilities. In this regard, the inclusion of people with disabilities is a key objective in any program of social and economic measures to create a real Information Society for all, where each citizen has the same opportunities to develop to its maximum potential his/her personal, professional and social aptitudes. This is a crucial milestone to achieve an inclusive digital society in which people with disabilities have access to online services and information on an equal footing to people without disabilities; this is a right enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities UN CRPD.

Based on this idea, the prime motivation of EasyTV is the necessity of equal access to television and audio-visual services so to ensure that all users, especially persons with various degrees disabilities including sight and hearing, the growing ageing population of Europe, and users with special needs could derive maximum benefit in terms of choice and quality of media content and services. For doing so, the specific objectives of EasyTV are threefold:
1. Well-proven access services are to be adapted and improved in new media delivery mechanisms (broadcast and broadband, fixed or mobile) including the access, interaction and production side.
2. Enhance the interaction following a multi-language approach. Such multilingual approach is needed in order to overcome the language barrier in people with disabilities, e.g. in sign language, which varies from one country to the other, or the use of personalised subtitles.
3. EasyTV will guarantee a user-centred approach: end users will be at the centre of the development, innovation and adaptation of technologies to facilitate a more cohesive and integrated media content. The project works in line with the proposed EC Single Digital Market. The different partners (both academic and industrial) and user groups will establish a close cooperation by exchanging experiences during the user testing phase, in order to enhance the whole evaluation process.
According to the project work packages, the work performed along this first period is detailed below:

- WP1:
- definition of the methodological approach of the research and the management of all the evidences emerged from the focus groups conducted by the FCNSE and the UICI for obtaining the users requirements.
- performance of the focus groups
- definition of the system specification by means of the provision of six vertical service scenarios composed by personas, scenarios, user journeys, user tasks and user stories.
- definition and verification of the technical architecture of the entire project.

- WP2:
- definition and first developments of the accessibility services regarding image enhancement, inteligibility improvement, screen readers and text to speech technologies and finally realistic avatars.

- WP3:
- Regarding the sign language capture technology: a wide research on the current state-of-the-art of hand tracking sensor technologies, a multi-phase architecture for the EasyTV capturing technology development and finally a first implementation of motion data generation and the capturing module has been done.
- Regarding the enrichment of a multilingual ontology, the activities have covered the definition of a set of metholodogical guidelines for the ontology development process, the definition of the EasyTV ontology and the analysis of the relationships with other modules, specially with the crowdsourcing platform.
- Regarding the universal and accessible remote control, a preliminary design of the gaze control system has been provided together with a first demo prototype of the EasyTV speech platform to voice control.

- Regarding the user modelling, a state-of-the-art about previous models has been provided, together with a first preliminary version of the user model editor, a web based tool for generating/editing user models.
- Regarding the MPEG-DASH personalisation, a firs analysis of the standard has been completed. Then, initial tests for including additional accesibility services inside the MPD file have been done.

- Along this first period, the basis about the multiterminal techncial platform and the crowdsourcing platform have been set.
- The Service Registry together with the Catalong, as well as the SDK have been defined.
- Finally the role of the Service Manager has been defined and clarified.

- Definition of the user profile for each test according to a bottom-up approach.

- WP7:
- Analysis of the market and technological trends in order to define a complete business model of the solution.
- Identification of the main standardization bodies useful for the project.
- Identification of the different dissemination activities, including web page, technical dissemination and special events.

- WP8:
- A continuous management of the project by administrative, technical and finantial monitoring has been done along this first period.
As it was planned in the proposal, along this first period a set of different innovative accesibility services have been defined to be deployed under the TV connected environment, paticularly on HbbTV. These services will be based on market standards and technologies, sanctioned by open-ended entities, which guarantee a functional evolution over a medium term.
In another aspect, the users' opinion obtanied through specific focus group have been considered to set the main requirements of the system. in this regard, and as expected, the language barriers will be broken thanks to the consideration of different languages for translation.
Moreover, the societal impact of the project is assessed by means of the different dissemination actions that have been done along this first year: a set of paper have been submitted to important peer reviewed conferences together with different presentation into industrial, academinc and professional fora.
Finally, the provision of a complete business plan of the solution will assess the economic viability of the solution based on the market analysis of the current status of the audiovisual environment.
EasyTV poster presentation