Loomio Accessibility Solutions

Loomio Introduction

Loomio is a Community driven cooperative social enterprise of open-source developers and social justice activists, with a world wide network of friends, supporters and advisors working to maximise positive social impact. Loomio is free and open software in which the code is a public resource that anyone can run, read, learn from, modify and redistribute. Loomio, like a loom for weaving diverse perspectives exists to make it easy for anyone, anywhere, to participate in decisions that affect their lives.

The world needs a better way to make decisions together. The recent move towards openness in the digital world was enabled by the Internet, as the most powerful communications infrastructure that has ever existed, which was built on free and open source software. Openness is one of the key values, where transparency and accessibility in decision-making is the new normal, established by the Loomio founders to enable a more open world. The Loomio business strategy, based on the Open Source Open Society (OSOS) efforts to consciously reverse practises that deny people the right to share, to participate, and to collaborate, is founded on four principles:

  1. Collaboration,
  2. Participation,
  3. Transparency,
  4. Freedom to innovate.

The Accessibility Challenge

As people and technologies become more integrated, society is shifting toward a culture of technology, where digital communications is shaping our future. From the home internet of things (IOT) to vast corporate networks, our lives truly are permeated by technologies. In our modern society, we are constantly surrounded by technologies of various sorts and of an increasingly complex nature. Although the specific quality of the technological penetration might differ depending on where you live, and the sophistication of the gadgets you have access to might vary depending on the living standards of your specific region. We are crossing a new frontier in the evolution of computing and entering the era of cognitive systems. scientists and engineers around the world are pushing the boundaries of science and technology to create machines that sense, learn, reason, and interact with people in new ways to provide insight and advice.

The accelerating rate of technology innovation is being driven by consumer demand, and organizations are struggling to maintain IT infrastructure stability. This is having a profound impact on the workplace. A paradigm shift in society, driven by miniaturization, cloud sourcing, and wireless mobile devices, is placing greater power in the hands of consumers. However, the ability to use new emerging technologies is currently at the heart of social inclusion, with those excluded being left out of many work, entertainment, communication, healthcare and social benefits. Accessibility is relevant to everyone. Accessibility awareness is growing as a worldwide recognition for the needs for rules and standards, to reduce the barriers within our communities and societies. accessibility is an issue that has to be thought of and planned for by many people in the design process: Company leadership, product planners and designers, engineers, legal experts, developers, and manufacturers, to name just a few. Building accessibility into the technology that people use everyday is a proactive process, something that has a part in every aspect of a product's lifecycle. A tool addresses human needs by amplifying human capabilities, and the human-tool interaction is designed to facilitate human-human communications. The goal is for the human-machine interface to become intuitive and an efficient human-human connection. That is, life activities should focus on real human habits and human needs, as opposed to focusing on the technology. However, the increasingly common "pictures under glass" type of interface used on smart phones and tablets, limits the untapped potential of human capabilities. That is, the user interface was not designed for persons with vision loss or environmental conditions that require visual focus on another task. the evolution of communication design is all about the interface. That is, the interface must minimize the technology focus and maximize the human interactions and relationships.

As we approach the intersection of people and machines, the rapid change in society is having an impact on the way we interact with one another and how we conduct daily life tasks. Progress is influenced by two societal barriers:

  1. Attitude - arrogance and ignorance impact human relationships and self confidence.
  2. Systemic - Disconnected processes and inaccessible procedures create system blindness within organizations and society.

In recent years, there has been an important paradigm shift affecting the development of new legislation and policies concerning persons with disabilities (PWD), from segregation to integration, from institutionalization to mainstreaming, from the medical model of disability being viewed as a condition to be treated, to the social model of disability focusing on the removal of disabling barriers in the environment that hinder full participation in society. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the first international human rights treaty, collects data on country laws, policies, and programs pertaining to accessible and assistive Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) around the globe. As a result Governments around the world are legislating Digital Accessibility Laws. Global communication standards, universal design strategies, and inclusion best practices are closing the accessibility gap. Organizations that ignore this trend will increasingly be exposed to the threat and cost of litigation, public relations issues, and loss of government contracts. Several private companies have been sued for not having accessible Web sites and have been forced to pay hefty fines and agree to re-design their sites to make them more accessible. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is developed through the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) group within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) organization in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of proving a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. The WCAG documents explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities.

Innovation And Collaboration The Intersection Of Progress

Strategy at Loomio emerges from the collective intelligence of everyone working on it. The Loomio cross-cultural technology design mission is to diffuse culture and ideas through collaboration to enable creators to innovate. This innovative design philosophy integrates action and meaning through a process of dialog and cyclical design, that provides a holistic view of user experience for cross-cultural design. We are moving toward a global digital economy by seamlessly integrating machines and people. Machines connected together through smart networks, provide big data analytics and artificial intelligence, for economic growth, and people connecting together through vast social networks, are closing the gap in cultural differences and levels of education. Loomio evaluates human prgress through a Genuine Progress Index (GPI) that measures employee productivity, career opportunities, and social engagement. A baseline of standards, expectations, and an interactive communications process to engage all employees in decision making is used to guide progress. Best practices of collaboration and innovation, that clearly define roles of responsibility and accountability, build trusting relationships and real progress.

There are many tools that can facilitate productivity for workers who are blind or partially sighted. People who are blind or have low vision can be as productive as their sighted co-workers with appropriate accommodations. They may perform a task differently than a worker who is fully sighted, but they should be able to get the task accomplished in approximately the same amount of time and with the same level of accuracy as any other worker on the jobsite.

Building For A More Inclusive Future

The Loomio group is building a fully accessible cloud based collaborative decision-making environment to empower organisations and communities to turn discussion into action, wherever people are. The goal is for a simple, user-friendly online tool for collaborative decision-making, that allows you to host discussions online, invite the right people to participate, come to timely decisions and transform deliberation into real-world action. Accessibility and usability is key in achieving this goal. Loomio co-founder Richard D. Bartlett stated:

We're building this organisation on the principle that anyone affected by a decision should be involved in making it.

Loomio is a free open source application that is built upon worldwide collaborative decision making efforts. Accessibility development skills and user testing experience is needed to ensure the Loomio inclusion model is sustained over time. Learn more about Loomio to see if it is right for your group Or check out the discussions in the Loomio User community Or read the Blogs. If you are interested in supporting the Loomio accessibility efforts, contact the group at Request Loomio Accessibility information.