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Easy Reading Awarded by the UN’s International Telecommunication Un­ion

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Woman and men on screen at a video conference © ITU
Dr. Susanne Dirks (bottom right) showcased the Easy Reading system and its possible uses at the ICT4all con­fe­rence of the International Telecommunication Un­ion.

Easy Reading, the software developed by a re­search team from the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences at TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity and eight in­ter­na­tio­nal partners to make websites accessible, has won the 2021 regional competition for in­no­va­ti­ve digital solutions for an accessible Europe run by the International Telecommunication Un­ion of the United Nations.

Digital content on the internet is often not accessible for people with cognitive impairments and learning difficulties. In an effort to change this, an in­ter­na­tio­nal team, which includes researchers from the Chairs of Rehabilitation Technology, and Physical and Motor Development in Rehabilitation and Education at TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity, developed the Easy Reading software frame­work. The proj­ect was launched in 2018 and was awarded a grant of two million euros as part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 program. After two and a half years of development, the tool was made available to the public for free last year.

The International Telecommunication Un­ion (ITU) has now named the Easy Reading software frame­work the best solution for people with cognitive impairments in its 2021 competition for in­no­va­ti­ve digital solutions for an accessible Europe. With almost 100 solutions entered into this European contest, the proj­ect was able to set itself apart from its competition.

Prof. Christian Bühler and Dr. Susanne Dirks from the Chair of Rehabilitation Technology at TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity were delighted to see their proj­ect receive this accolade. “Receiving this kind of recognition for our efforts only motivates us to push on with further re­search projects in this field and thus give even more people a chance to use digital content independently,” says Prof. Bühler.

Customizing the presentation of websites to suit individual needs

One aspect of Easy Reading that particularly impressed the in­ter­na­tio­nal panel of judges was its in­no­va­ti­ve and inclusive approach of keeping the user at the digital original. Dr. Susanne Dirks explains what this means: “With our application, any adjustments necessary for accessibility can be made directly on the original website.” This gives users the opportunity to personalize the presentation of any website in real time according to their needs. The support functions make it possible to change the layout and structure of websites, for example. There is also the option to use symbols, videos and images to explain web content or to have the text simplified. These functions are implemented using state-of-the-art human-computer interaction technologies such as pop-ups, embedded functions and eye tracking.

As a Specialized Agency of the United Nations, the ITU has set itself the goal of enabling as many people as possible around the world to use the internet as a source of in­for­mation. So, as part of the award, the ITU and its partner organizations will provide intellectual support to the Easy Reading proj­ect as the tool is further developed and distributed.

Further Information

Contact for further in­for­mation:

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is “Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen” (closer to South Cam­pus), and from B 1 / A 40 “Dort­mund-Dorstfeld” (closer to North Cam­pus). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from North Cam­pus to South Cam­pus by car, there is the connection via Vo­gel­pothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at North Cam­pus and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity has its own train station (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät”). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station (“Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof”) and Düsseldorf main station via the “Düsseldorf Airport Train Station” (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station “Stadtgarten”, usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At “Stadtgarten” you switch trains and get on line U42 towards “Hombruch”. Look out for the Station “An der Palmweide”. From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop “Dort­mund Kampstraße”. From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop “Dort­mund Wittener Straße”. Switch to bus line 447 and get off at “Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dort­mund Airport (DTM) to Dort­mund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dort­mund Central Station, you can continue to the uni­ver­si­ty campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of in­ter­na­tio­nal flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the uni­ver­si­ty station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity. There are two stations on North Cam­pus. One (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”) is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the “Technologiepark” and (via South Cam­pus) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at North Cam­pus and offers a direct connection to South Cam­pus every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity are spread over two campuses, the larger Cam­pus North and the smaller Cam­pus South. Additionally, some areas of the uni­ver­si­ty are located in the adjacent “Technologiepark”.

Site Map of TU Dort­mund Uni­ver­sity (Second Page in English).