The Gatekeeper project connects healthcare providers, businesses, entrepreneurs, elderly citizens and the communities they live in. The main aim of the project is to use Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to improve the quality of life of citizens, most of all older people.
The platforms created to this end have various target audiences, with different needs:
- A marketplace (“Gatekeeper Marketplace Services”), where providers can offer their services and ICT products and where users can search for those services, test and buy them.
- An authoring tool, with a multimodal user interface, that integrates personal profile information, health profiles and other information, and visualises data both for the patients and the healthcare providers.
It is essential that these platforms are accessible for all, meaning that they can be perceived, understood and operated by all potential users, no matter if they have a hearing loss, vision impairment, reduced mobility or limited cognitive capacities, as a result of aging or disabilities.
Around 20% of the EU population has some form of disability, and more than 46% of older persons have a disability worldwide. Creating accessible user interfaces in the Gatekeeper project facilitates that the core target audience, older people can use the services and access the information as intended, and it ensures that anybody with a disability also has an equal possibility to use these interfaces, without barriers.
A user navigating their computer using a sip and puff switch, giving commands using air pressure by «sipping» or «puffing» on a tube.
Accessibility of the content and the information it conveys is assured in various ways: for example providing captions or transcript for videos, making the content appropriate for screen readers, making it possible to use the interface without a mouse, ensuring that people with colour blindness or limited vision do not miss any information, the users getting clear feedback when they make an error. Accessibility also improves the usability of the interface for everybody, with an easy to understand structure, intuitive design and clear navigation.
Auditing for accessibility
The Authoring tool platform and the Marketplace both had an accessibility audit. The audits used the harmonised European Standard EN 301 549, which contains the minimum requirements of the Web Accessibility Directive (Directive (EU) 2016/2102), an EU-wide law that authorities and bodies governed by public law, that is, many health-related services, have to comply with.
Checking the focus order on the Gatekeeper Marketplace. A logical focus order is important for users of assistive technology.
Beyond the accessibility of the platforms developed in the project, a self-assessment methodology for controlling the accessibility of the services offered through the Marketplace has been set up. This assessment needs to be provided together with the service offered on the platform.
Improving accessibility is the right thing to do. But in Gatekeeper, it is more than just that: it can increase quality of life, it helps making individuals more independent, and it supports users getting information that may lead to better health. Many partners have contributed to the improvement of accessibility in the project results. We hope to inspire other research projects to include the user perspective in their development processes.
 Persons with disabilities (European Commission): https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1137
 Ageing and disability (UN): https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/disability-and-ageing.html