4.5.1 Cloud computing and AT

Cloud computing is a current technological paradigm shift in which computing resources such as software are distributed over the Internet and made available to computers and other devices on-demand.127 The implication here is that AT software applications would not be installed on a particular machine, but rather would be accessed through the Internet from any computer. Preliminary approaches, such as online screen-readers, have “yielded promising results towards an inclusive Web by removing both economical and accessibility barriers.”128

More ambitious approaches, such as the Raising the Floor (RtF)129 and the LUCY project,130 aim to develop the tools and infrastructure necessary for persons with disabilities to have access to affordable ATs from any computer. Of particular relevance here is the RtF focus on the provision of ATs that are affordable. The RtF project recognizes that the “cost of commercial assistive technologies that are good enough to handle today's modern Web pages and applications far exceed the cost that those in lower socioeconomic situations can afford.”131

Unlike mainstream technologies, ATs such as screen readers have not tended to decrease in price over time. Instead, AT developers struggle to keep pace with developments in the interfaces and functionality of mainstream technologies. Open, collaborative projects such as RtF invite governments and research communities in universities and industry to contribute to their areas of activity.