Web of Things

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This page captures some of the use cases and resources relating to accessibility of Internet of Things (IoT) through the Web of Things (WoT).

Background

Short paper: Web Standards to Enable an Accessible and Inclusive Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) and related developments, such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, could provide immense benefits for people with disabilities. For example, mainstream home automation products and services could improve the quality and reduce the cost of custom-made solutions for ambient assisted living (a field of accessibility research and development since many decades). Yet lack of accessibility considerations could have the exact opposite effect, and further exclude people with disabilities. For example, if the digital control for the heating system could be even less accessible than the physical knob if it is not designed with adequate consideration. This includes the design of the user interface as well as the protocols and APIs in the background, for example to allow access to the current temperature and the functionality to change the temperature independently of the user interface.

The Web of Things (WoT) is intended to improve interoperability among IoT systems. That is, to provide an open web-based platform on top of IoT, much as the web is currently for the traditional internet. This provides a unique opportunity to address accessibility considerations which often overlap with broader market needs anyway. For example, web-based control of the heating system described above could allow open access to the controls by assistive technologies, to adapt the presentation and allow different modes of operation. A screen reader could access the text-based temperature value and read it aloud to a blind person. Similarly, voice recognition software could operate the custom slider widget using WAI-ARIA roles and attributes to change the temperature to a person with limited mobility. WoT would potentially also help address security and privacy considerations for IoT.

Use Cases

The following use cases outline some of the accessibility requirements for IoT/WoT.

Interoperability

Interoperability for third-party assistive technologies is essential, in particular for people with combined and less common disabilities.

  • The menu on a connected TV can be accessed by a screen reader on a mobile phone
  • The controls of a connected heating system can be operated using a sip-and-puff assistive device
  • ...

Accessibility Support

IoT/WoT systems need to provide specific accessibility features to address the needs of people with different disabilities.

  • The connected projector provides access to the presentation data in addition to the video output
  • A connected TV provides support for captions
  • All hardware controls provided can be operated through the web interface or API
  • ...

Configuration

Configuration of accessibility features in IoT/WoT systems should not become overly complicated, especially for people with cognitive disabilities.

  • A profile with preferences, such as large text, could be sent from one device to another
  • ...

Privacy

Data being shared across IoT/WoT systems could disclose sensitive information about health and disability, which may not be desired.

  • A user has overview and control of the data being collected and exchanged within IoT/WoT systems
  • A connected fridge suggests shopping lists but does not share specific dietary and health needs
  • ...

Security and Safety

IoT/WoT systems are already being deployed in healthcare contexts, which could be life-threatening without adequate security and safety measures.

  • A connected pace-maker is safe from manipulation and failure
  • An emergency surveillance system is safe from manipulation and failure
  • An emergency text message by a deaf person is guaranteed to be delivered
  • ...

Accessibility Guidelines

New considerations may be needed in future accessibility standards and guidelines, to better address IoT/WoT contexts.

  • An individual component, such as a headset, may not address all accessibility requirements
  • The combination of individual components needs to provide an accessible system
  • An IoT/WoT system needs to provide basic platform accessibility, and individual components needs to adhere to it
  • ...

Resources

W3C Resources

Publications

Articles etc.