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IBM/University Collaboration To Develop Open-Source Accessibility Tools

University researchers in the United States and the U.K. have started collaborating with IBM to develop open-source software solutions aimed at bringing accessibility to older workers to "help them adapt to and remain productive in the changing workplace of the 21st century," according to information released late last week by IBM. The effort is part of IBM's Open Collaborative Research initiative, which creates partnerships with universities for the purpose of developing and releasing open-source tools to the public.

The new partnership brings together researchers from the University of Dundee's School of Computing in the U.K. and the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine in a concerted effort to develop assistive technologies and gain insight into new ways to improve workplace performance in maturing workers by improving the workplace itself and by increasing the ability of older workers to use technology.

"Older workers represent an extremely valuable resource. However they need to have tools available to them to be able to compete in today's technology driven workplace," said Sara J. Czaja, a professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, in a statement released Friday. "We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with IBM as it provides us with a unique opportunity to have the results of our research efforts translated into actual products and tools. It also provides a wonderful opportunity for our students."

Miami's research efforts will focus on technology work settings, with an emphasis on developing e-learning tools targeting older workers. The work will build on research from the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE) and the Center on Aging. Dundee will focus on producing visualizations and interaction scenarios.

The results of the project, as with all IBM OCR projects, will be "made available as open source software code, and all additional intellectual property developed based on those results will be openly published or made available royalty-free," according to IBM.

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