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Vodafone Foundation Launches EU Smart Accessibility Awards

14 Jun 2011Digital Society
6 minute read

€200k competition for developers to help improve the lives of older people and persons with disabilities across the European Union

In the week of the first EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, Vodafone Foundation is launching the Smart Accessibility Awards. This is a new competition to promote the development of IT applications designed to improve the lives of people with disabilities and older people to help them become more actively involved in society.

The programme is supported and co-organized by AGE Platform Europe, the European network of around 160 organisations of and for people aged 50+, and the European Disability Forum (EDF), the NGO that represents the interests of 80 million Europeans with disabilities.

Launched in Brussels, the competition will award the best smartphone application across four different categories as follows:

  1. Social participation: This refers to applications which help users to participate actively in today's society and benefit from the facilities that the new technologies can offer, whatever their age, disability and/or capacity (E.g. use the web and social media through mobile devices, contact people using mobile devices to the same extent as everyone, etc).
  2. Independent living: This refers to applications which help users to be more autonomous and perform daily tasks independently (E.g. using domestic appliances such as washing machine or refrigerator, opening doors safely, etc).
  3. Mobility: This refers to applications which enable users to move around more freely and safely using the whole range of transport modes. It can also refer to the use of mobile devices to be guided in unknown environment (e.g. using GPS option, etc).
  4. Wellbeing: This refers to applications which improve the users' health and as well as overall feeling of wellbeing.

The total prize fund of the €200k will be split equally between the four winners. The competition is open from 14 June 2011 to 15 October 2011. All entries should be submitted to

All qualifying entries will be evaluated in November by a jury, consisting of representatives from AGE Platform Europe, European Disability Forum and Vodafone Foundation. Twelve finalists will be selected and requested to present their application before the final jury in Brussels in early December at a live final, where the four overall winners will be chosen.

Vodafone Foundation Director, Andrew Dunnett said “The Vodafone Foundation is keen to help as many people as possible benefit from new technologies. The Smart Accessibility Awards will help developers create apps that can really make a difference to people’s lives – we are thrilled to be able to support such an important initiative.”

Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Platform Europe Secretary General, said “We are pleased to be involved in a project that supports our efforts towards building a more inclusive society. Digital inclusion is key to ensuring as many people as possible remain actively involved in their communities and we should make sure every citizen is empowered to do so, whatever their age or capacities. We hope this competition will help reach that goal and also contribute to the ‘European Year 2012 for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations’ where the objective is to increase older people’s active participation in society and promote independent living in old age. ”

Rodolfo Cattani, EDF Executive Member, said; “Being part of this competition is very important for us. Communication technologies are vital to making possible the inclusion of persons with disabilities. When the mobile applications are not accessible, it can create new obstacles and can lead to new forms of discrimination. We look forward to seeing accessible apps.”

For further information about the Smart Accessibility Awards, go to You can also keep up-to-date with recent news by following our Tweets with the hashtag #vsa2011 and signing up to the Vodafone developer newsletter

Notes to Editors

Entries will be judged under the following criteria

  • Effectiveness: The application submitted should provide real and substantial benefit to the targeted users in overcoming the obstacles related to their disability and improving their everyday life, targeting an equivalent use as non-disabled people do.
  • Availability and affordability: We seek to maximize the number of potential users that might benefit from the application. Applicants are encouraged to write apps that can be distributed across as many mainstream platforms as possible. All applications must operate on the Android platform version 2.2 (or above) and must meet the terms and conditions of Vodafone’s App Store. Developers are encouraged to make the application relevant to users in as many countries as possible. Availability of the applications in more languages will also be positively evaluated. To maximise the number of potential users that might benefit from the application, the expected charges, if any, to be sought from the user will also be taken into account in the evaluation of the application. Such application should not cost more than the one intended for non-disabled users.
  • User-friendliness, usability and accessibility: The application’s user-friendliness and usability will be an important factor in the evaluation of the applications. Consideration will also be given to the ease by which the application can be installed and downloaded. Applications should also meet accessibility requirements.
  • Design for All: By design for all or universal design, we mean “the design of products environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” (Article 2 of UN CRPD). Many users experience multiple disabilities. With ageing, older people in particular tend to develop concurring hearing, visual, cognitive and mobility impairments. Applications that accommodate all these needs in a concept of Design-for-All will be positively evaluated. Persons with disabilities form a heterogeneous group with many different accessibility criteria. Development of assistive technologies and interoperability between different technologies are the key elements in the evaluation. In particular, developed applications should be compatible with ICT assistive devices (such as text-to-speech devices for blind users) in order to accommodate the specific needs of older people and persons with disabilities.

About Vodafone Foundation

The Vodafone Foundation invests in the communities in which Vodafone operates and is at the centre of a network of global and local social investment programmes.

In countries in which Vodafone operates, social investment is delivered by a unique footprint of 27 Vodafone Foundations and social investment programmes. These programmes are directed and chosen by the Foundation Trustees and receive funding from the Vodafone Foundation in the UK as well as their local Vodafone company.

The Vodafone Foundation received recognition as registered charity number 1089625 from the Charity Commission for England and Wales on 4 December 2001.

About AGE Platform Europe

AGE Platform Europe is a European network of more than 160 organisations of, and for, people aged 50+ and represents over 30 million older people in Europe. AGE aims to voice and promote the interests of the 150 million inhabitants aged 50+ in the European Union and to raise awareness of the issues that concern them most.

AGE strongly believes that accessible technologies can promote independent living, social inclusion, active participation of older people in society and equal opportunities for all. Its work in this area aims at ensuring that technological developments meet the needs and expectations of older people.

About the European Disability Forum

EDF is the European umbrella organisation representing the interests of 80 million persons with disabilities in Europe. The mission of EDF is to ensure disabled people full access to fundamental and human rights through their active involvement in policy development and implementation in Europe. EDF is a member of the Social Platform and works closely to the European institutions, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

For further information, please contact:

Ruth Walters
+44 (0) 20 7608 8357

Vodafone Group Media Relations
+44 (0)1635 664444

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