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About COST 219

Aims and Objectives

The next generations of mobile systems will have the capability to transmit data, text, voice and pictures and will also be able in due course to transmit videos between fixed or moving terminals with a varying bandwidth that responds to instant demand with the customer being charged accordingly. These systems will provide Internet access as well as point-to-point communication, and will merge with other wireless technologies - such as broadcasting, as well as with fixed systems to a very significant extent. They will also embrace short-range communication links like Bluetooth and IEEE 802.11b, so that mobile equipment can automatically identify and communicate with appliances at home or in the street that have these capacities. Because the new mobile systems will be general conduits for information carriage, and will not be function-specific, they have the potential to form the ideal foundation for an inclusive telecommunications arena.

Any long-term view should take this enormous potential into account and point the way towards a communications infrastructure that is both comprehensive and inclusive. It should enable future requirements to be forecast and therefore protected. It should see to it that neither the generality of the system nor the multiplicity of its output modes is sacrificed along the way because no immediate demand has been perceived.

In the shorter term, existing services need to be maintained until they are no longer required. This may create conflicts. The GSM system - the 2nd generation - is known to cause interference problems with hearing aids in a way, which the first generation analogue equipment did not. Mobile analogue networks have been switched off to free up more channels for the 3rd generation and there is pressure to go digital on the local loop. It is not yet known which incompatibility problems might arise, as all of these relevant technologies develop, not necessarily hand-in-hand.

Design for All is currently a very popular theme in Europe, especially thanks to earlier activities in research programmes such as TIDE (Technology Initiative for Disabled and Elderly Persons), the FP4 Telematics programme (e.g. ACCESS, INCLUDE and PROMISE [ISPO] the ACTS programme (e.g. AVANTI) and to ongoing Actions (WAI, eEurope and eAccessibility and Palio in ICT, just to mention some activities).

The main emphasis in these is to develop guidelines and standards as well as to adopt regulations, legislation and other public activities, which will make it easier to achieve a barrier free public solution for access to communication systems.

The "Design for All" approach is a prerequisite in order to ensure that as many persons as possible can use and benefit from the new mobile systems and services. This approach will decrease the need for special adaptations and separate solutions, although this requirement can never be fully removed but has to be taken up separately.

It is therefore essential that further research be carried out on the "Design for All" approach for next generation networks, building on the work carried out by the two previous action COST 219 and COST 219bis on accessibility to telecommunication in general. As already mentioned, various organisations/programmes are active in this field but they will often be focusing on a single aspect (standardisation, legal aspects, research or education. In this sense the COST mechanism is an ideal framework for implementing a comprehensive approach to "Design for All" and bringing together all the players across Europe (scientists, service providers, users and user organisations) and should continue to prove an efficient means of networking and building on the links established in the two previous Actions. It is also an excellent platform for co-operation with standardisation bodies that are currently working on Human Factor aspects of standardisation and COST has acted as a stimulation for national activities and research in the area mainly through he National Reference Groups.

Objectives and benefits

The main objective of the Action is to increase the accessibility of next generation telecommunication network services and equipment to elderly people and people with disabilities by design or, alternatively, by adaptation when required.

In cases where this cannot be achieved, the Action will aim at promoting the establishment of appropriate supplementary assistive services and equipment.

Taking always into account the "Design for All" concept in telecommunications and teleinformatics, especially in the mobile field, the objectives of the Action can be specified in operational terms as follows:

  • Extend the existing COST 219 database and the knowledge required for designers on consumers and their requirements, so that many more disabled and elderly people can be catered for in mainstream design,
  • Support the exchange of Inclusion and Accessibility issues so that these can be freely explored with developers, researchers and representatives of the telecommunications industries and service providers,

so that

  • Disabled and elderly people are enabled to share in the benefits of new mobile communication systems as discriminating consumers from the outset, but not being discriminated against.

Scientific programme

Building on the results achieved by COST Action 219 and COST Action 219 bis (especially the knowledge of the field and the network of contacts) the work will be to:

  1. Continuously update information on relevant, existing services and technical solutions as well as ongoing and planned R & D work, and retrieve and disseminate information through use of databases and informatics services
  2. Study user accessibility to mobile devices (assessment and test of current mobile devices according to the requirements for disabled and elderly people based on a thorough analysis of their needs and assessment of proposals for supplementary equipment or alternative devices),
  3. Promote feasibility studies and concepts for improving accessibility or improving adaptability of mobile phone based services or for new special services and their implementation (e.g. accessibility of Bluetooth applications),
  4. Identify gaps in the technical development that inhibit the development of equipment and services accessible to all potential users, and suggest/develop new technology aimed to favour this development,
  5. Study accessibility of different types of contents such as sophisticated multimedia contents, etc.
  6. Assess augmentative and alternative mobile services for interpersonal communication, access to information and other services.
  7. Initiate or continue existing dialogues with service providers, e.g. by providing guidelines for new services,
  8. Create liaisons with relevant groups within COST, ETSI, ITU, EC, EURESCOM, AAATE, EIDD, EDF etc. and organise joint seminars or conferences on topics of mutual interest,
  9. Promote collaborative research through the short term mission exchange of young scientists.
  10. Promote co-ordination of national research efforts by stimulating exchange of information on on-going research activities.
  11. Disseminate information for mobile accessibility through workshops and publications.


  • Creating a network of laboratories to test next generation telecommunication devices and services for accessibility,
  • Setting up activities to support the development of hardware and software solutions aimed at producing a technology that is inherently accessible to all the potential users,
  • Assess adaptation methods and special solutions in the cases where the future telecommunication services and devices can not be made fully accessible.
  • Assess conversion methods enabling information to be adapted to the capacity of the channel and the actual terminal used as well as to the preferences and momentary abilities of the user.
  • Focus the research on interoperable mobile and fixed multimodal networks providing a seamless infrastructure for communication, access to information, communication between user agents and ambient intelligence.


Management Committee

Working liaison with other COST Actions in the field of telecommunications and teleinformatics will be assured by consultations with the Technical Committee Telecommunication, Information Science and Technology TC-TIST

The delegates of the Management Committee are liaison officers to national groups in the participating countries.

Members of the Management Committee can form Ad-hoc Groups working with specific issues.

Working Groups

Working Groups can be set up to carry out specific tasks. They can collect information and knowledge about telecommunications and teleinformatics requirements of elderly people and people with disabilities.

The working methods of the Working Groups can be meetings where contributions from the delegates are considered and processed, arranging seminars, producing reports, books, pamphlets, videos, and establishing WWW-pages, databases, etc.

The Working Groups report their achievements at the Management Committee meetings, which will analyse and comment on the planned work of the Working groups.

WG 1: Information collation

This Working Group will be in charge of information collation and dissemination, development and updating of the information in the WEB and data base servers of the Action, and identification of gaps in technology development that have to be filled for a satisfactory integration of all the potential users. Their work includes:

  • Development of Good Practice Guidelines, especially for the new seamless telecommunication infrastructure.
  • Providing input to standardisation work.
  • Giving input to legislation work.
  • Monitoring technological trends.

Chair: Dr John Gill

WG 2: Accessibility of Emerging Information Society Technologies and Services

The Working Group addresses research and development issues pertaining to the
accessibility challenges of emerging information society technologies.

Chair: Prof Klaus Fellbaum

WG 3: Testing for accessibility

The work of the WG is based on the experience that new hardware and software solutions create potential obstacles for users with functional restrictions, which could be avoided by design considerations without creating extra cost. In complementation special solutions and individual adaptations need to be provided to people who still can't use the equipment.

The idea of the WG is to identify and connect test capacities on accessibility of next generation telecommunication devices and services. This network of laboratories and user experts could be used and offered to support accessibility of the next generation systems.

The second task of the WG is dealing with the evaluation of adaptation methods and special solutions for the cases where the next generation systems can not be made fully accessible.

The approach of work will include among others the following items:

  • cooperation with users on their needs and criteria,
  • clarification of terminology,
  • methodologies for testing,
  • specs for the testing; quality of testing,
  • testing general market products: improve the testing methods in respect of accessibility and provide new test methodologies to the testing bodies,
  • Evaluation of special solutions.

The WG will mainly work by email exchange and will use the COST 219ter meetings for face to face discussions. Results of the work will be shared with the COST 219ter WG Industrial Forum, COST 219ter WG Information and relevant research groups.

Chair: Prof Anna-Liisa Salminen

WG 4: Smart Housing

This working group will develop guidelines for smart housing appropriate for disabled and elderly people.

Chair: Dr Ad van Berlo

Further organisation

Important organisational solutions are the National Reference Groups, which will be established (or re-established) in order to have a sufficiently broad basis in order to ensure the quality of the work as well as the exploitation of the results of the activities. The National Reference Groups should also support activities in order to promote telematics for elderly and disabled people in their country.

D.2 Timetable

The total duration of the Action will be four years.

T0 - Project Management
Duration: 15 half-day meetings for preparation and follow up on work plan.

T1- Collection of information concerning requirements for elderly people and people with special needs. Establishment of liaisons and experts network.
Duration: 3 meetings.

T2- Development of Guidelines.
Duration: 6 meetings.

T3- Find out technological gaps and to suggest/develop solutions 4 Meetings

T4- Distribution of information. Arrangements of seminars, development of printed and multimedia information.
Duration: 6 meetings.

T5- Reviews of the action - final report.
Duration: 2 meetings

Economic dimension

The following countries are partners in this Action:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America.


The Action will continue to update and develop the information stored in the COST 219 website. The guidelines, proceedings from the seminars and conferences will be made available in the server. Members from the Action will actively inform about the Action in seminars and conferences arranged by other organisations.

It is foreseen to have a newsletter, an annual "state of the art" for decision makers, and to publish a book.

The information will be targeted at specific groups like general public, industry, telecom industry, decision makers and organisations and the dissemination channels and means will be chosen accordingly.

The national reference groups will publish material, arrange seminars and keep own information servers.