#SmartEducationUnescoSicilia: a project without barriers

What distinguishes the project is that it has adopted, as working tools, the fundamental principles of the 2006 UN Convention, relating to universal design and accessibility in all its forms. Universal design means the design (and implementation) of products, environments, programs and services that can be used by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptations or specialized designs. (Art. 2)
This means that it is necessary “take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities, on the basis of equality with others, have access to the physical environment, transport, information and communication, including information and communication systems and technologies, and other equipment and services open or offered to the public” (Art. 9)
Accessibility is a complex issue that must be addressed starting from the design of any product or initiative, with a cultural attitude that through the appropriate choices of the professionals involved, marked precisely to understand and avoid potential barriers, leads to a result that can be enjoyed by all and is therefore inclusive.
On this subject, the Educational Technologies Institute of the CNR (https://www.itd.cnr.it) and the Institute David Chiossone onlus (https://www.chiossone.it) have been working together for years in synergy and, building on joint experiences on the theme of inclusion and technologies, for this project have made available to all actors their know-how.
The elements characterizing the universally accessible communication, such as the added value and foundation of every type of output of the project, have been identified and focused. Indications have been given regarding all the actions planned, from the artistic installations to the posters, from the movies to the e-book, from the website to the products for the communication and dissemination of the initiative, with the aim of making them more accessible to all as it is in the basic premises of the project itself.
As for the design of the website, in particular, the choices for both the structure and the content, aim to allow a fruition that combines compliance with the standards of accessibility of the web (https://www.w3.org/WAI) with simple and intuitive usability for users of different ages, from children to the elderly, with different cultural and technological skills and with different abilities/difficulties.
Particular attention has been paid to the contents that, with a demanding editorial effort, are usable and comprehensible, at several levels, keeping intact their scientific value. To this is added an adaptation and a translation in symbols (CAA Augmentative Alternative Communication) of a synthesis of each Site: Valley of the Temples of Agrigento, Aeolian Islands, Late Baroque city of the Val di Noto, Mount Etna, Palermo Arabic – Norman, Syracuse and the Necropolis of Pantalica, Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina, which widens the audience including also those who have particular difficulties in understanding the written text. In an inclusive perspective, teachers find resources to enrich their teaching in particular in the courses dedicated to art, also suitable for use in the classroom.
For the realization of the images, the needs of those who have visual limitations have been taken into account, in particular with regard to the framing, the lights and the colors. In addition, an original solution has been adopted to facilitate the use of photographs, which has been defined “wire” because it highlights the contours of the most relevant elements to understand its meaning or better appreciate its shape, superimposed on the original image. Within the site, videos play a fundamental role, which have been made with modern technologies and taking into account the indications provided with respect to accessibility. In order to make them accessible to a wider audience, in addition to special attention in the choice of frames, sequences times, lights and colors, subtitles were inserted during assembly (on request in Italian or English) with the texts of the narrating voice and the films in the Italian language of signs (LIS). In the belief that making accessible means removing barriers but not the quality and content and, based on the principles of universal design that have always been shared by all the actors in the project, This prestigious result has been obtained that contains all the elements that allow each user to access it in a personalized way, each according to their needs.