WSIS TalkX (World Summit on the Information Society Conversations)

Universal Design and Social Innovation during the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 17, 2020 WSIS TalkX Season 2020 Episode 3
WSIS TalkX (World Summit on the Information Society Conversations)
Universal Design and Social Innovation during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Show Notes Transcript

Starting in April, the WSIS Team will host a weekly virtual WSIS TalkX the for the WSIS Stakeholders to interact, connect and collaborate. Preparing towards the WSIS Forum 2020, High-level Track Facilitators, Workshop Organizers, WSIS Prizes 2020 Champions and others will be conducting virtual interactive talks highlighting their linkages with the WSIS Action Lines and SDGs.

Join our third live session with Q&A on Universal Design and Social Innovation during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Moderator and Speakers:

  • Dr George Anthony Giannoumis — Associate Professor, Oslo Metropolitan University
  • Ms Elise Daaland — Creative Director, Global Universal Design Commission Europe
  • Mr Michael W. Hodin — CEO, Global Coalition on Aging
  • Mr Masahito Kawamori — Rapporteur, ITU-T SG16 Q26, ITU and Professor, Keio University, Japan

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Ms Gitanjali Sah — Strategy and Policy Coordinator, ITU:   0:04
Good afternoon, dear WSIS Stakeholders, dear ladies and gentlemen. It's our pleasure to invite you to the third WSIS TalkX on Universal Design and Social Innovation during COVID 19. I'd like to welcome Dr George Anthony Giannoumis who is from the University of Oslo Metropolitan. He will be leading these discussions and he will moderate the talk. Dear Antony, over to you.

Dr George Anthony Giannoumis — Associate Professor, Oslo Metropolitan University:   0:35
Thank you very much, Gitanjali. And thank you to all the support that you've given us and the other panellists on the WSIS TalkX this year. It's been an absolute thing in the honouring experience. So before we get started, I would like to remind the audience that captioning is available. It's in Teams, so you would have to just turn that on for yourself. And I'd also like to remind the panellists to please speak very slowly so the captioning system can keep up. So today I'm going to be discussing universal design and social innovation as an approach to dealing with COVID 19 and other global health crises. As Gitanjali said, my name is Anthony. I'm an associate professor of universal design at Oslo Metropolitan University. We're also going to be hearing from my colleagues Elise Daaland and Michael W. Hodin and Masahito Kawamori.  

Dr George Anthony Giannoumis — Associate Professor, Oslo Metropolitan University:   1:32
So I want to start off by simply saying that universal design is a really crazy but powerful idea that we can change the world by creating a society in which everyone can participate equally. The United Nations has a mainstream universal design and several of its key initiatives. It is a fundamental principle of the World Summit on the Information Society, and it's also a human rights obligation for both the U. N. Agencies and all of their members. The definition of universal design focuses on three key terms. It's the design of technology to be usable by all people. Let's start with the word, design. Design can refer to both the product as well as a process so we can talk about the design of a pen. It's weight, the shape, the materials that it's made out of. And we can also talk about design as a process of how that pen is manufactured, distributed and sold. So when we talk about universal design, we have to take into consideration both the process we used to create something as well as the ultimate product that we create. You cannot have a universally-designed product if you don't go through a universally designed process.  Now let's turn to the word, usable, the design of technology to be usable by all people. The International Organization for Standardization, the ISO defines usable technology as being effective, efficient and satisfying. This means that I, as a user, can reach my goal. I can reach it quickly and that when I reach my goal, either happy or at least not angry or upset, I'm sure we've all had experiences using technology when we've grown frustrated or angry when the technology has not worked the way we expected. So we can think about universal design in terms of usability. If I'm using my phone to post a picture to Instagram, can I successfully post that photo? Can I do it quickly? And when I'm doing it, am I happy, or at least not upset or angry with the process?  Now, the last part of universal design is probably the most complex, the design of technology to be usable by all people. On the surface, it seems kind of simple. We're just creating technology for what developers often call a quote" typical", "average" or quote "normal" user. But this is impossible because there is no such thing as an average user. Research has shown that the average user is a myth. So universal design isn't about creating one generic solution, that doesn't really fit anyone's needs very well. But it's about creating a one-size-fits one solution. It's about customizing the solution for the individual.  

Dr George Anthony Giannoumis — Associate Professor, Oslo Metropolitan University:   5:04
Now the challenge that we're left with is translating these grand ambitions of universal design into actual practices. And this is where myself and one of my colleagues at Harvard Law School published an article last year that lays down four principles of universal design for the information society. The first principle is social equality. Universal design is about creating technologies that everyone can use equally. The second principle is human diversity. Universal design is about recognizing the barriers and different forms of disadvantage that people experience when they're using technology and participating in society. The third principle is two parts. It's about accessibility and usability. Universal design is about developing technologies that are accessible and usable for everyone, including persons with disabilities and other socially disadvantaged groups. It's really important to consider accessibility and usability because you can create a piece of technology that is accessible without it being usable, and you can create a piece of technology that is usable without it being accessible. So in order for technology to be universally designed must be both usable and accessible. The fourth principle is probably the most important. It is Participatory Processes. Participatory Processes mean that technology developers must collaborate with key stakeholders, including persons with disabilities and other socially disadvantaged groups when they're designing and developing new technologies. This will go often occur through civil society organizations. So it's vitally important for governments to ensure that civil society has the capacity and competence to contribute to ICT design and development processes.  

Dr George Anthony Giannoumis — Associate Professor, Oslo Metropolitan University:   7:13
Now, this year, the world has been facing the global crisis of the COVID 19 pandemic. This crisis has put into stark relief how vital universal design is for ensuring that digital communications and technologies are available to everyone. We have to ask ourselves critically, our websites that contain health information on COVID 19 accessible for people who are blind or partially sighted. We have to question our videos promoting good health practices accessible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. We have to ask, is online text ledge a bill for someone with dyslexia and understandable for someone with an intellectual disability or someone with low levels of literacy? And of course, we have to question whether or not someone with low Internet bandwidth or someone who's using an older phone or computer can access information about COVID 19. By ensuring that health communications are universally designed, persons with disabilities, older persons, children and youth persons living in rural areas, persons lived with low levels of literacy, persons from low socio-economic areas and many, many others will have access to that information on an equal basis with others. Universal design also means ensuring that the technologies that we rely on in education, employment, health and leisure are accessible and usable across the spectrum of human diversity, our telecommuting applications, online learning platforms, e-health technologies and video-games accessible and usable for everyone. There's a wealth of information on universal-design that is openly available on the Web. There are good practices and technical standards that have been well established on website accessibility, but the best possible options for ensuring that digital communications and ICT universally designed is to involve socially disadvantaged groups and their representative organizations in the design of those technologies. This will ensure that when the world faces a new crisis, no one will be excluded. Now, my colleague Elise Daaland and creative director of the Global Universal Design Commission Europe will discuss how social innovation can create responsive solutions that are universally designed in the wake of global crises like COVID 19. Elise, are you there?

Ms Elise Daaland — Creative Director, Global Universal Design Commission Europe:   9:54
I'm here. Thank you, Anthony. My name is Elise Daaland and I am, as Antony said, the creative director of Global Universal Design Commission Europe, and what we do is offer training, workshops and courses in universal design and social innovation. We do this in order to build capacity on how we can solve complex problems. These skills, they are incredibly important in these challenging times. And right now, several innovation programs and hackathons are being organized all over the world to help us cope with this crisis. For instance, I am an adviser in an organization based in also called Development Goals Forum, and they recently brought together businesses, civil society organizations, young people and experienced mentors for a global online innovation program with participants from over 30 countries. And in this program, they have developed solutions such as disinfection devices, information chatbox and hand wash reminder software that are really making an impact into communities where they have been implemented. What I find so inspiring about these events and initiatives is not only the amazing impactful results that they produce right now, short term, but also the long term value that the participants gets because they are given a set of skills that make them better prepared to solve other complex problems in the future. Because complex problem solving is actually something that you can learn, and you can get better at it with the right training. When we host workshops like this at the Global Universal Design Commission, we use methods that are based on extensive research and on the experience of successful innovators. We often talk about three skills that are very important to learn: empathy, creativity and inclusivity. You need empathy to truly understand the complexity of a problem and the challenges of the people who are affected by these problems. You really have to get to the root of the problem if you're going to be able to solve it, that's why you need empathy. You need creativity to be able to generate new ideas for solutions. You have to train your ability to see things in a different way and explore undiscovered opportunities. That's creativity. And you need inclusivity because the real problem solving can only happen with collaboration and diversity and by including everyone in the process. That's inclusivity. So three skills that can make a huge difference. Empathy, creativity and inclusivity. Organizing such workshops and training for problem-solving innovation and universal design is not only valuable right now to help us cope with this pandemic, but I believe that we should continue to initiate events like this all the time everywhere to train as many people as possible in empathy, creativity and inclusivity. Because if we can build capacity on how to solve complex problems and also do it in an inclusive way like Anthony said, we will be much better prepared for the next crisis, and we will also be much more capable of solving the sustainability challenges that we already know that we are facing. So I'll leave it like that and I will give the microphone to Mr Michael W. Hodin.

Dr George Anthony Giannoumis — Associate Professor, Oslo Metropolitan University:   14:41
Michael, you're on mute.

Mr Michael W. Hodin — CEO, Global Coalition on Aging:   14:45
Yes, thank you. Appreciate it. Firstly, Gitanjali and WSIS, we'd like to thank you very much for having the global Coalition on Aging is a partner in our 2020 program, which, of course, is happening a little differently than any of us had expected. But here we are, being flexible, and, we thank you so much for your leadership. And Anthony and other colleagues, we're delighted to be part of this. The Global Coalition on Aging, of which I am the founder and CEO, a group of global companies relatively small number 2025, but cross-sector, cross-discipline involved in the Nega trend of aging. So, for example, of Phillips and Intel and of artists, buyer, advisor, a Bank of America and a gun, home instead senior care and we all get together to address the challenges of global aging society. There will be two billion of us on the planet over 60 in the next couple of decades. And even more interestingly, as every society modernizes everywhere on the planet more old than young. And so this idea of aging has been with us for a while. We're now in the year of the decade of healthy aging, the start of the decade of healthy aging by one of your sister agencies, the World Health Organization. And so our engagement with COVID 19 is unfortunately very, very substantial, obviously, because of all the broad demographic categories. An older person, particularly one who is compromised, you know, compromise will be, more challenged and at-risk with respect to the current COVID 19 pandemic. So here are three points that I would suggest and leave you with. Number one, whether we're talking about, you know, outside COVID 19 designed for the 55 plus or 60 demographic, as Anthony suggested, is designed about diversity by itself. Again, whether inside or outside COVID 19, there tends to be a lens, which many instinctively applied to this older demographic. Assuming everyone is the same healthy and act of 57-year-old has a different set of needs than a very frail 86-year-old. That's true generally, and it is through the lens of ageism, perhaps one of the last acceptable forms of discrimination to be very blunt, that the decade of healthy aging will address. So number one, the diversity you mentioned broadly is is even as much applicability all for an older demographic. And we have that strategically through the global coalition agent. Secondly, to be very clear on the role that we're attempting to play, it is working with and advising, private business sector across the globe with respect to meeting the needs for more healthy and active aging, and that again couldn't be more true in COVID 19.  

Mr Michael W. Hodin — CEO, Global Coalition on Aging:   18:42
So let me just leave with three areas that require further exploration of what we're seeing what we're learning and where the absolute applications of universal design and social innovation must apply, in order for success within COVID 19 pandemic applications today and post the COVID 19 crisis, we all hope that we'll get there sooner rather than later. Number one, Elder Home Care, which is a relatively small cottage industry in many ways started in its current form by two entrepreneurs, Paul and Laurie Hogan, out of Omaha, Nebraska, and now is a global sector home. Instead, senior care is global. They're on the front lines of COVID 19 and what we're learning from them about the needs of elder caregiving within COVID 19 are very, very significant. And that will lead to the most important change, post-COVID 19 which is elder caregivers becoming an essential part of our health ecosystem. Today we think of our healthy ecosystem in terms of nurses and health care professionals, physicians, of course, elder caregivers within COVID 19 where literally we're staying at home or on the front lines, and they will be part of health transformation in the post-COVID 19. So what do we apply to that sector for further innovation and learning in the context of design? Secondly, our technology companies. We are at a place, and it was a reference in a news article about a week ago that in the context of COVID 19 with respect to telehealth, telemedicine, remote care, remote patient monitoring, we have made more advances in a week than would normally take that sector 10 years and obviously again. That's because of the applications required to be out of the hospital, even for acute care particularly needed in a 60, 65 plus demographic, and particularly in a frail 84-year-old, for example. So how can go forward applications of design of the sort anything you so brilliantly laid out be learned for that application? And the third area is medicine innovation. We all know that the only time we're gonna feel truly, more confident as we attempt to open up our economies is when there are innovative therapies and, most importantly, a vaccine or vaccines available. We hope that will come sooner rather than later. How can a universal design and social innovation apply to further advance the innovation progress that we want in weeks or months and not years? Normally it takes years and again, as you so well described, Anthony, how can that apply in the once we find these innovations to ensure the scalability and access to everyone on the planet. Whether you were in a village in India or in New York City as I am. And that is utterly essential. It's not new, but VOVID 19 brings that message home. So thank you for having us as part of this. And we look forward to the discussion in the next few minutes.

Dr George Anthony Giannoumis — Associate Professor, Oslo Metropolitan University:   22:44
Thank you, Mike. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to present with us. Today we'll turn the microphone over now to Masahito Kowamori. Masahito, are you on the line?

Mr Masahito Kawamori — Rapporteur, ITU-T SG16 Q26, ITU and Professor, Keio University, Japan:   23:01
Hear me? Hello?

Dr George Anthony Giannoumis — Associate Professor, Oslo Metropolitan University:   23:06
Yeah, Loud and clear. Mosquito, Go ahead.

Mr Masahito Kawamori — Rapporteur, ITU-T SG16 Q26, ITU and Professor, Keio University, Japan:   23:08
Okay, so, thank you very much for this opportunity for me to speak. My name is Masahito Kawamori. I'm the Repportrur of Question 26 of Study Group 16 which is dedicated to the study of accessibility to multimedia in International Telecommunication Union T sector. T sector is for Telecoms. I'd like to talk today about standards and standards for accessibility, and why standards are important for accessibility. I'm the repertory, like a chair coordinator in discussions. And we invite persons with disabilities to our meetings so that we can all discuss how we can make ICT Internet information Communication technologies is accessible to persons with disability as well as two persons with age as well as other disprivileged people. And I had an opportunity to discuss with WHO, World Health Organization about the importance of standards when there was an Ebola outbreak in Africa, a few years ago. And we had a discussion on with a big room full of people from different countries discussing how standards and ICT can help healthcare with WHO. And they were talking about how people were willing to donate many good apps and hardware smartphones to Africa. But most of them were unusable because they were not interoperable because they were not standardized. I think it's this is a very good lesson in, especially in the time of emergency, it is imperative that we can use standardized products, standardized applications, standardized tools so that people don't feel people cannot find how to use those things. Standard is like a language. It's very important that you can, you get used to this standard so that people can communicate, people can interchange, people can exchange and operate. So this is extremely important, especially important for accessibility, because people with disabilities, persons with disabilities are not, how should I say,  well trained, specially trained for different devices, different applications, different tools. So, for example, this tool, that we're using, now it's micro Microsoft Teams. I don't know how accessible it is, but if it's standardized, then it should be easier to be used. There's a tool called Zoom. there's a tool called Skype. There is a tool called WhatsApp? You know different things, but they're not all standardized. And sometimes some people find some tools easier to use. Some people find other tools easier to use, blah, blah, blah, so that would be very, very difficult. For example, I can't find the caption here because it's not standardized. That user interface is not standardized. So, in ITU, our team, our group tries to standardized ICT tools and applications and service is in such a way that persons with disabilities find them easier use. For example, we have a standardized removed meeting so that we can have standardized way of making meetings, remote meetings more accessible. Or we have standardized with Anthony a way how to navigate people with audio guidance. Or we have standardized ways of how people, deaf people can talk to hearing people with telephone which is called telephone really service. And at this time, COVID 19 Pandemic is especially, Isay should I say It is a good showcase of standards because, and especially for ICT. Because everybody is sort of, you know, forced to stay home, stay where you are, stay inside. And remote participation is the only way that you can communicate, especially for persons with disabilities. But at the same time, it's gonna interesting that this makes everybody sort of equal because everybody's removed from each other, you know. So ITU is trying to help persons with disabilities with standards ICT standards to be able to communicate and to lead to a better life with ICT. For example, I'm working with the persons with disabilities deaf people in the Philippines because they're locked down and they were not allowed to go out. And there is only one way they can communicate, which is Web, the Web. So we're trying to introduce remote sign language interpretation in the Philippines and also in other countries. So these are the things that we can provide, and this is only possible for standards because otherwise if you have proprietary solutions and products, universal designing will not be achieved, and standards are essential in this kind of universal design, and especially in the emergency situation like COVID 19 Pandemic. So that's, uh, my talk. Thank you. 

Dr George Anthony Giannoumis — Associate Professor, Oslo Metropolitan University:   30:14
Thank you very much, Masahito. I sincerely appreciate the time you took to meet with us today. All right? With that, we'll go ahead and wrap up. I have 1500 on the button on my clock, so I'll thank all the panellists again. Gitanjali, would you like to sign us out?

Ms Gitanjali Sah — Strategy and Policy Coordinator, ITU:   30:54
Thank you, Anthony. Thank you, to all the other colleagues, Michael, Elise and Masahito. It was a great debate and great dialogue. We will keep working. Thank you very much and please join us on Tuesday for the next talk on information to journalists during COVID 19 by UNESCO, EBU and other colleagues.