'Cloud-Enhanced' Accessibility: Competition Seeks Visionaries

The Federal Communications Commission wants to know: What’s your vision for using “cloud computing” to create new opportunities for people with disabilities?

The FCC is co-sponsoring the competition “Lifted by the Cloud: Visions of Cloud-Enhanced Accessibility,” and asking participants to create short multimedia presentations showing “what could be possible using the computing and communication power now available via the Internet.”

Deadline for submissions is May 1, 2011. Although the competition officially began Oct. 22, 2010, there were no published submissions on the webpage as of March 4 — so it’s not too late to get started.

“Cloud computing” is an evolution in the use of Internet technology; to learn more about it, see this layman’s description.

Ideas from the competition will be shared with policy makers, software developers and members of the public who wish to “empower people with disabilities toward greater independence in life, and greater integration in society,” say the sponsors.

Three prizes will be awarded: two cash prizes and an opportunity to share the vision on higher level.

About ‘Lifted by the Cloud’

Presentations must be limited to seven minutes in length, and can use any combination of video, audio, photos, graphics, text, or other presentation media, as long as it is accessible to a broad audience, including people with disabilities. Specific instructions, including uploading videos to YouTube and meeting the needs of people with vision and hearing disabilities, can be found on the competition page.

Presentations will be judged by these criteria:

  • How accessible is the presentation for a wide range of users, including people with disabilities?
  • How clearly does the presentation suggest the value of cloud computing?
  • How clearly does the presentation present benefits for people with disabilities?
  • How imaginative are the technical ideas behind the vision?
  • How aesthetically appealing is the presentation for a wide range of users?
  • How well is the case made that the vision can soon be realized?
  • Was the submission created specifically for the challenge, or does it draw heavily on earlier work?

Prizes and co-sponsors

Raising the Floor  — an organization dedicated to ensuring access to the Internet and communication technologies for “everyone who has trouble using the default interface” — is offering a $1,000 prize for the presentation that best addresses the interests of people in developing countries.

The Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado is offering a $1,000 prize for the presentation that best addresses the interests of people with cognitive disabilities.

The FCC prize is the placement of the vision on the FCC website and consideration for the Chairman's Awards in Advancement in Accessibility.

Winners will be announced July 1, 2011. 

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