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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.
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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”.