PEAT Talks Recap: The Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII)

Imagine a world in which every form of information and communication technology (ICT) you encounter allows you to easily access your own personalized accessibility settings. During our September PEAT Talks webinar, Raising the Floor co-director Gregg Vanderheiden shared information about an initiative that could one day make such accessibility a reality: the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII).

The development of the GPII is currently the central focus of Raising the Floor, an organization of diverse people from industry, academia, NGOs, and other sectors who have come together to ensure that people who face barriers due to disability, literacy, digital-literacy, and aging are able to fully understand, access, and use the digital world​. The GPII consortium seeks to use the cloud as a means of storing accessibility settings and preferences, making them readily available via any ICT device interface through individual user profiles. In other words, the GPII would enable devices to adapt to people, instead of requiring people to adapt to devices. Such a flexible system is greatly needed in today’s technology-centric society, because as Gregg observed, the world is “facing a widening digital divide.” With the GPII in place, greater participation would be possible in all areas of life, from education to commerce, community living to employment.

The GPII would enable devices to adapt to people, instead of requiring people to adapt to devices.

As Gregg noted at the beginning of his talk, implementation of the GPII will be a game-changer in the workplace because technology is “being built into every job, and not just computers, but digital interfaces of all types.” He emphasized that “just as access to digital technology is becoming mandatory for participation, independence, self-sustenance and employment, we also are nowhere near providing access to everyone who needs it.” The rapid increase of technology used in workplaces poses an accessibility issue for many people with disabilities. The GPII would eliminate the  need for assistive technology devices on the job, instead giving employees a more direct route to accessibility and increasing productivity and efficiency.

Gregg demonstrated examples of how it could work for people with varying access needs. For instance, a person with a visual impairment who needs content on a computer screen to be magnified could hold a GPII card up to that computer and automatically change the settings to the exact magnification level needed. But if the next person using that computer needed a different accessibility feature, such as a screen reader, that user could hold up a card to enable screen-reading software.

Currently, the team behind the GPII is hard at work to bring this project to fruition. To learn more about the GPII’s development and the crucial role it could play in expanding the accessibility of workplace technology, check out the archived September PEAT Talk. And please be sure to share your comments and thoughts below on how you or your workplace as a whole would benefit from implementation of the GPII!