LAIC Lab – Language Accessibility and Inclusive Communication
The Lab suggests solutions that allow for accessible communication. Through the Lab, the ZHAW establishes networks with research and private sector partners from across Europe. Together, we offer services for public institutions, organisations and companies.
What is accessible communication?
People with sensory and cognitive impairments and/or a reading disability experience difficulties in accessing communication offers and services in both their private and professional lives. With linguistic, technical or even organisational improvements, these difficulties can be eliminated or reduced in many areas. Examples of such solutions include the use of easy-to-read, simple or plain language as well as speech-to-text interpreting, audio description and specialised communication skills. Others involve the use of information and communication technologies and other methods and skills in the areas of societal integration or inclusion.
A great deal of knowledge as well as many methods and techniques are available or already at an advanced stage of development. Nevertheless, there is still too little being done to overcome communication barriers. The Lab helps to close this gap.
The Lab suggests solutions
The Lab facilitates solutions that allow for accessible communication. It establishes networks comprising people and institutions from the world of research as well as private sector players, organisations and public institutions. Together, we apply research findings in a needs-based manner to practice, promote the further development of solutions and offer support to companies in implementing and utilising them.
Some examples of situations when the Lab can offer solutions and support
- A media house wants to make its digital and print content more accessible and understandable.
- A hospital wants to improve its communication with its older, sensory-impaired and/or foreign-language patients.
- An event organiser wishes to ensure that it is also accessible to participants with a sensory impairment – from the provision of the invitation right through to the presentations and podium discussions.
- As part of a district development project, people with German as a second or foreign language should be reached and given the opportunity to participate.
- A company would like to better integrate its employees with communication and language difficulties and to support them in working with others.
The Lab offers advisory services and develops guidelines and standards. It helps with the implementation and application of solutions that allow for accessible communication.
|Areas of expertise||
Audio description and introduction
Speech-to-text interpreting: live subtitling for people with hearing disabilities
Easy-to-read, simple and plain language
Sign language and sign language interpreting
Accessible web solutions
Accessible digital documents
|Integration and inclusion||
Integration of people with a poor knowledge of the local language (e.g. migrants with German as a second or foreign language)
Integration of people with sensory and cognitive impairments
Consideration of accessible communication as part of corporate communication
Recipients of accessible communication offers are people with sensory and cognitive impairments and/or a reading disability. Under certain circumstances, the latter group may also include people who only have a limited knowledge of the respective local language. Due to the ageing population, the number of people with disabilities is also expected to increase substantially in the future.
The Lab’s clients are organisations, companies and public institutions whose target groups include people with sensory and cognitive impairments and/or a reading disability. These individuals may be their employees, members, clients, partners or other stakeholders.
- Public institutions: The Lab helps public institutions in communicating with all citizens. Public institutions are thus able to offer all citizens access to services or involve them in design and decision-making processes (participation).
- Companies: The Lab helps companies to better reach, integrate or collaborate with their stakeholders who experience communication and language barriers. These include employees, clients and partners of companies and even those who live and work near them.
- Media producers: The Lab helps media producers in planning and implementing their digital or print content in a manner that is accessible and understandable for everyone.
Why the Lab is needed
- Due to the ageing population, the number of people with disabilities is also expected to increase substantially in the future.
- With the signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in April 2014 and the current legislation in place in the form of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), accessible communication is of great importance to Switzerland under the principle of inclusion. Nevertheless, very little is being done in this area.
- It is not only people with sensory and cognitive impairments and/or a reading disability who benefit from accessible communication, but also public projects, companies and organisations. Accessible communication allows for many people to be better reached and taken into account. It also makes it possible for integration services to be made more accessible.
- There are already many solutions for accessible communication. The task now is to increase awareness of these solutions and to further develop and implement them in a needs-based manner.
We are planning new events on the topic of accessible communication. Detailed information will be provided here in due course.
- Barrierefreiheit dank Digitalisierung? Am 12.5.22 zeigen wir im Nüü (Zürich), wie digitale Technologien für die Inklusion genutzt werden können – öffentlich und kostenlos.
- Third Swiss Conference on Barrier-free Communication in cooperation with the University of Geneva (held online between 29 June and 4 July 2020)
- Second Swiss Conference on Barrier-free Communication in cooperation with the University of Geneva (held in Geneva on 9/10 November 2018)
- First Swiss Conference on Barrier-free Communication in cooperation with the University of Geneva (held in Winterthur on 15/16 September 2017)
ZHAW units involved in the Lab
Are you interested in the Lab’s services? Would you like to find out more about accessible communication? Or would you like to become one of the Lab’s partners? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, we’d be delighted to hear from you!