ENTELIS Seminar - Reducing the digital divide: the role of Education -12th November 2015

(07 Oct 2015)
Update on the Entelis Seminar 

The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies  as the local partner in the very exciting EU funded ENTELIS Project hosted a very successful Seminar over 2 days 2th & 13th November 2015 in Dublin.

The seminar was preceded by a Consortium meeting on Wednesday 11th November in the lovely Ashling Hotel, Dublin during which consortium members took the opportunity to update each other on their work on the project and evaluate overall progress on the Project. They also considered the State of the Art Report  and finalised the ENTELIS Manifesto. You can download a copy of the Manifesto here

A srong message contained in the State of the Art report is that in order to bridge the digital divide barriers have to be removed and people must be empowered. Education is the key whether this is in educating designers of products and services or most importantly educating and training people with disabilities in the use of available assistive technology more effectively.

On Thursday 12th November the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies hosted a very successful Seminar in the historic Dublin Castle. The Seminar had as its primary focus the role of Education in bridging the Digital Divide and it was organised in collaboration with our partners the National Disability Authority(IRE) who hosted a separate but related Conference on Universal Design in Education on the afternoon of the 12th and all day 13th November,2015.

The Entelis Seminar commenced with an address by Brian O’Donnell CEO of the National Federation who welcomed all the international delegates to Dublin and also expressed his delight to see so many Irish participants. Mr O’Donnell gave a brief outline of the purpose and objectives of the Seminar underlining its importance in identifying practical measures to bridge the digital divide.

He then introduced Dr. Maria Scherer to give the Seminar Ketnote address – “ Empwering Lives Through Technology – Issues that matter going forward.The keynote address was deliverd in a very professional and articulate way by maria and was much enjoyed by all in attendance

Dr Scherer was followed by an interesting pretation by Siobhan Long, Enable Ireland, on the role of technology in Education. Then came a practical demonstration by  self advocates from Saint John of God Community Services, Dublin on mow Assistive Technology is enabling them to live a life of their choosing. The audience were very taken with this happy presentation and were left in no doubt about the real benefits which Assistive Technology brings in the everyday lives of people with disabilities.

Other thought provoking presentations followed, first by Sunbeam House Services, Bray, County Wicklow on the “IPLANIT” applicatio’s role on making individual plans happen.

Then Sheeona Gorman who gave an outline of the IASSISTID Research and Training Programme in Assistive Technology.

Sabine Siemsen  gave a very interesting presentation on the role of Distance Education in bridging the Digital Divide and Sabine was followed by Tom Bieling who gave a fascinating insight on to Design for Social Innovation which is bringing enormous practical benefits to People with Disabilities Globally.

Proceedings concluded with a brief description by Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf of the State of the Art Report and the Entelis Manifesto both of which will be distributed throughout Europe and beyond and call for more attention to be paid to the Digital Divide and make recommendations for action at all levels.

Overall a very interesting and enjoyable few days in Dublin. It was a wonderful opportunity for us as hosts to welcome our friends and colleagues to Dublin.

I’m delighted with the very positive feedback which we have received by all who enjoyed Dublin and am happy to say that both the Seminar and Consortium Meeting have been very positively evaluated in the evaluation forms.

- Brian O’Donnell

You can download a copy of the Programme for more information.

Online Registration is no longer available

New digital technologies are rapidly changing society, including the way people interact, the way they learn and work and the way they drive the economy. There are many reasons why persons with disabilities of all ages experience difficulties in using technology. A major barrier is related to the inaccessibility of products and services, including educational programs, basically because in their design phase universal design principles have not been taken fully into account. In other cases traditional products and services are not accessible because technology is not used to increase their accessibility allowing persons with disabilities to make the best possible use of them. When different user groups in society take differently benefit from the new opportunities offered by technology, we can speak of a digital divide. 

The State of the Art report produced by the ENTELIS consortium clearly indicates that to bridge the digital divide barriers have to be removed and people have to be empowered. Change needs to occur solving some of the issues at the root and education is therefore key, whether this is the education of designers of products and services and their providers, as well as the education and training of persons with disabilities in using available solutions and services more effectively.

For that reason the ENTELIS seminar that will be held in Dublin on the 12th of November is dedicated to the role of education in bridging the digital divide, in close collaboration with the Conference on Universal Design in Education that will be held in the same venue as the second ENTELIS seminar.

The specific focus of the ENTELIS network, user empowerment and ICT-AT training, neatly matches the specific focus of the Universal design in Education conference, providing a holistic introduction to strategies and good practices in making the (digital) world a better place for all.


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