The „Barrier Registration and Monitoring Office“ commenced its work on 01. January, 2014 and concluded it as planned after a three-year period on 31.03.2017. The BMAS
-financed project was jointly conducted by BUNDESARBEITSGEMEINSCHAFT SELBSTHILFE von Menschen mit Behinderung und chronischer Erkrankung und ihren Angehörigen e.V.
(Federal Self-Help Association of Persons with Disabilities and Chronical Illnesses and their Relatives) and the Forschungsinstitut Technologie und Behinderung (Research Institute for Technology and Disability) of Evangelische Stiftung Volmarstein (Volmarstein Protestant Foundation). The Faculty for Rehabilitation Pedagogics of Technische Universität Dortmund contributed to the project in an advisory capacity.
The Barrier Registration and Monitoring Office aims at improving a user-oriented sustainable reduction of barriers in processes relating to barriers at work and in occupational information and communication processes to improve the participation chances of persons with disabilities on the general labour market.
The „Registration Office for Digital Barriers“ is a progression of the Registration Office for Web Barriers founded in 2006. If users criticise barriers on the internet, in online documents, software, vending machines, such as automatic teller machines or ticket machines as well as shortcomings of information and service terminals and inform the Barrier Registration and Monitoring Office accordingly, they will act on the respective complaint. They will subsequently contact the providers, explain existing problems for the users and request that the relevant barriers should be eliminated. The office also supports and advises providers about putting accessibility into practice.
In addition to the removal of barriers, this project is an exemplary first-time attempt to monitor websites over a longer period of time to detect the increase in barriers at an early stage. Of particular interest are offers in the field of professional and working environments, such as for instance job offer portals or trainee positions. Apart from reporting shortcomings in respect of machines, software and documents, reporting methods are being developed continuously. Next to the option of reporting barriers via email, telephone and fax, barriers may also very conveniently be reported via web-based forms or a Firefox plug-in. Nevertheless, the advancement does not stop there and the focus of the project is currently on the field of developing apps for tablets and smartphones in order to improve mobile report facilities.
It is a foregone conclusion that financing the Registration Office for Digital Barriers will come to an end in the foreseeable future. We therefore aim to develop a concept which ensures the continuing operation of the registration office.
The Barrier Registration and Monitoring Office (abbreviated BaMM): Professional inclusion through user-initiated, sustainable removal of barriers at work and in professional information and communication processes – A joint project of BAG
(Federal Self-Help Association for Persons with Disabilities and Chronical Diseases and their Relatives) and the Forschungsinstitut Technologie und Behinderung (Research Institute for Technology and Disability), FTB.
A few weeks prior to the end of our project, i.e. on 22 December, 2016, the EU
guideline governing the barrier-free access to websites and mobile applications of public authorities came into effect, which has to be converted to German law in the coming months. Interestingly, this guideline contains demands for a feed-back mechanism and the long-term monitoring of websites under the auspices of public authorities. Those are two aspects which played a major part in our Barrier Registration and Monitoring Project.
In contrast to the EU
guideline or the Barrier-Free Information Technology Act valid in Germany, (BITV
) 2.0 the Barrier Registration and Monitoring Project involved all websites, not just those belonging to public authorities. Consequently, the Barrier Registration and Monitoring Project made a substantial contribution to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (VN-Übereinkommen / UN
The Monitoring Office for Digital Barriers was expanded further and continued to give persons with disabilities the opportunity to report barriers, which they encounter in any services. In addition to web barriers, reports covered digital documents, information and service terminals as well as self-service vending machines, software and mobile applications. The services of the Monitoring Office will be available beyond the duration of the project.
An app for Android smartphones was developed to facilitate reporting barriers in information and service terminals. Reporting vending machines in particular had so far been very complex because it could only be used via web forms and corresponding text input. This app contains pre-designed texts, which may also be supplemented by the user’s own keywords. Furthermore, the app can access the GPS
and camera functions. It is thus possible to add information on the location and pictures to the report.
All project activities focused on improving the integration of disabled persons into the general labour market. In the framework of long-term surveillance of websites (monitoring) 14 work-related websites were selected, i.e. 7 websites of federal authorities and private enterprises (employment and e-recruitment websites) respectively. These websites were checked at three different points in time. As a result, it can be concluded that each and every website was faulty, that not every testing tool is suitable for checking and that the websites of federal authorities contained less shortcomings than those of the private providers.
In the framework of the collaboration with TU Dortmund, twelve students investigated the Barrier Registration and Monitoring Office in their two-semester study projects. In addition to ideas for the app development they compiled a catalogue of guidelines for the monitoring office, three film clips advertising the work of the monitoring office, a protagonist called Giesbert which doubles as an appealing character as well as the catchphrase “Be a hero, report what’s wrong”.