1. Introduction

Welcome to the Mada assistive technology localisation framework website. This website is intended to provide you with an overview of how you can make your assistive technologies suit a wide range of users around the world.  It will also provide pointers for the localisation of accessible websites.

assistive technology triangleThe web pages are the result of work carried out in the development of technologies for those with disabilities in countries as far apart as United Kingdom, Qatar and India.  It should be noted that assistive technologies cover a wide range of products and services that can be helpful to those with disabilities. They are not just specialist access tools but may also cover those items that help with personalisation such changing the colour of fonts and backgrounds, productivity tools such as word processing packages and free, portable and online tools from the tablet to a plug in toolbar on a browser.  They can be totally interdependent on each other and yet be given very different names or be linked with different organisations in different countries and this can affect knowledge about the tools, supply, support and training.

There is nothing new about ‘localisation’ and how people have attempted to develop computer based products and services to suit individual cultures, languages and environments. “A brief and also incomplete history of Windows localization” tells of the more technical aspects of localisation and the early days of 16-bit Windows when three versions were developed known as Western, Middle-East, and Far-East.  This really only hints at the issues that surround a much bigger picture.

localisation wordle

The Localisation Research Centre in Dublin describes localisation as “The linguistic and cultural adaptation of digital content to the requirements of a foreign market and the provision of services and technologies for the management of multilingualism across the digital global information flow.”

Evers (2001) describes it more specifically by saying;

“Localisation is the process of adapting a software product to a specific cultural market. This does not only involve translation of the user interface into the local language and supporting appropriate hardware. It also involves taking care of other local conventions such as date, time, currency, number formats, text, images, colour symbols, flow of information and product functionality (Russo and Boor, 1998; and Nielsen, 1990). Localisation typically involves evaluating the differences between cultures and the problems that are likely to occur because of these differences”

Both accessibility and localisation need to be included at all stages of a project’s development. They need to be there from the outset at the visionary and design stage and then part of the continuous changes that are made to the code  during the development of any program or service.

AT Localisation Framework

The proposed AT Framework includes:

It is hoped that others will join in the debate about localisation, assistive technologies and linking services, with comments being added to these pages. We would also like to see more case studies in the future and discussions around the issues that can arise when working in languages and areas around the world that are unfamiliar to the developer.


  1. MSDN TechNet (2012) A brief and also incomplete history of Windows localization Accessed July 28, 2013 http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2012/07/26/10333558.aspx
  2. The Localisation Research Centre (LRC) Established in 1995 at University College Dublin  http://www.localisation.ie/
  3. Evers, V. (2001) Cross-Cultural Understanding of Graphical Elements on the DirectED Website In Smith, A (Ed) Proceedings of Annual Workshop on Cultural Issues on HCI. 5 December 2001, Putteridge Bury, University of Luton Accessed Aug 2nd, 2013 http://staff.science.uva.nl/~evers/pubs/cult%20issues%20luton%20ed.pdf