AXSChat Podcast

AXSChat Podcast with June Lowery, Head of Unit and Deputy to the Director at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology

September 14, 2021 Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken
AXSChat Podcast
AXSChat Podcast with June Lowery, Head of Unit and Deputy to the Director at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology
Show Notes Transcript

 June Lowery is Head of Unit and Deputy to the Director at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CNECT). She has worked for the EU institutions in Luxembourg for the past 25 years in a wide variety of fields including publications, finance, logistics, and digital inclusion. Her current responsibilities include web accessibility, language technology and online safety for children. She is also the CNECT equality coordinator. She is passionate about her job, and about making the digital world safer for children, and more accessible, inclusive and multilingual for all. 

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Neil Milliken: hello, and welcome to axschat I'm really delighted that we're joined today by June Lowery who is responsible for the accessibility, safer and Internet and languages that unit at DG connect that's quite a mouthful June.

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Neil Milliken: I know you're posting great stuff on social media all the time about topics that are really important close to my heart, but can you tell us a little bit more about.

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Neil Milliken: The work that you do, did you connect the work of the unit, and also how you came to be working in the accessibility space everybody's journey into this is.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): The first of all, thank you very much for inviting me to be your guest today, I really, really been looking forward to it, so my unit like you said neal looks at safe internet for children.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): We look at accessibility in the digital space, particularly, we have a piece of legislation that obliges accessibility on public sector websites and mobile Apps i'm sure we'll talk more about that.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And last but not least, we're actually there is also overlaps with accessibility and we look at language technologies digital language technologies.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And that, of course, overlaps with accessibility in terms of speech recognition speech to text if you've got speech to text you can translate, but you can also do lots of other cool things with it so that's quite it's.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): All three fantastically rewarding really fascinating subjects and I feel very privileged to be to be working on them and to have this job so how did I get here, I think, totally imposter syndrome being totally equipped and in qualified to do any of those three.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): studied languages way back in the previous century I worked as a British civil servant in Germany for several years, doing quite interesting stuff on counterterrorism and then after the Cold War ended, you know those good old days we.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): didn't want to go back to Britain, I wanted to stay in Europe Little did I know how that would become and.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): So I applied for a job at the European Commission worked in fact on in a different part of the institutions and the Publications Office for a long time.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And then, in the last sort of four five years I moved to DG connect, which is the bit of the Commission that looks at the digital single market or it was called that when I joined.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And then, for the last three years i've really had this privilege of being of having this job with these three different sectors.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): and legislative for web accessibility, we have funding and kind of stuff policy unsafe for Internet for children, and we have funding and do research into language technologies and also deploy stuff so yeah dream job.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): don't ask me how I got it, though.

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Neil Milliken: I won't but but.

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Neil Milliken: How What was it that drew you to to the dream, why is it your obviously it's interesting all of these things fascinate me but I mean.

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Neil Milliken: Usually there's some kind of personal reason why this resonates with you and you get drawn to it.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): If only life was that order, the European Commission oh naive in the.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): right place at the right time.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): manage lots of different things so.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): that's give us something else totally different to manage so that's, why is that but but yeah I mean, obviously I am not a technician no claims to be that.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And so, these slightly more sort of socially policy side of things, I feel more able to bring something to.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And I think probably if if you know that horrible interview questions what's your strengths, I think, actually, I really enjoyed communicating I think the Commission does fabulous stuff in so many different areas.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And, and the three areas, as I say that we've got in my unit or three spectacular examples of that, and so you know if at least I can help communicate that I think that's a that's a good day job, but at least like I think I can do.

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Neil Milliken: Great and.

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Neil Milliken: So you you alluded to the legislation, and these are big pieces of legislation as well, these are you mentioned that you've already.

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Neil Milliken: got the public sector legislation and we've seen even in the UK, which is led then transpose that into into UK law and that's had a profound impact on.

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Neil Milliken: On all of our public sector websites and we're still seeing now mobile because mobile came in discovered later and that's really increased demand for accessibility increased awareness, certainly in the public sector.

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Neil Milliken: And there's more to come.

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Neil Milliken: So yeah.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): I mean there's actually surprisingly or certainly a surprise to me when I tried to sort of pull together what.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): What actually legislation connect has, in the field, and we are not really the specialists in terms of.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): accessibility and working with persons with disabilities that's my colleagues in GG employment, social affairs.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): But even in the digital sphere, we have well my unit has our piece of web accessibility, the what's called the web accessibility Directive and the jargon.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): But there's also the European Electronic Communications code which looks at emergency numbers having to be accessible, you know alternatives be provided.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Our colleagues responsible for the audio visual media services directive.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Where there are meant to be gradual improvement so it's not sort of like a firm and has tighter deadlines and obligations.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): As we have in the web accessibility director, but it's still clearly pushing the video service platforms, the video sharing platforms in that direction everything that's online as traditional broadcasters had to be dealt with.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): As the Marrakesh treaty, you know, in terms of books for the photos with visual impairments, and so on and so on, so there's quite a lot of hard law, even from our side in terms of the digital sphere.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): But then the really big I think game changer will be the what's called the European accessibility act.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): it's been adopted it's entering into force, but the actual practical implementation will be as of 2025.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And that obliges accessibility on to a whole bunch of services and hardware.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): That were really identified as being particularly essential for persons with disabilities, so it's not like everything everywhere, has to be accessible.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): But computing services basically on any online sort of commercial services whether that's ticketing for transport or you know banking services anything like that has to be accessible and so.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): i'm not i'm not sure if it was serendipity or not, that the web accessibility directive got adopted and entered into practical force first.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): But if you like, we're sort of paving the way through the public sector, hopefully, encouraging the market stimulating the market showing firms who are offering accessibility services but.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know, we have technical standards to say, this is what accessibility.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): looks like this is what you can aim for, and not have to invent something else or double guess what actually the definition is so I think is really important to get private sector.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): on board and actually investing in this that they know they're going to have some.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know that their investment is going to pay off they're not going to be asked to change it again five minutes later and so we're doing that for the price for the public sector at the moment, as you said, new websites and Apps and then.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): A bigger bang, shall we say, 2025 and I think that will really hopefully bring about this sort of reached the tipping point there.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): In terms of actually having accessible designed by default that actually will be easier for everyone to do it right from the start.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Rather than try to retrofit which we see from the public services is you know it's quite a painful process and it's quite difficult we're thinking accessible right from the get go just you know it's just a win, win for everyone.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And I see Deborah agrees with me thank you.

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yeah.

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Antonio Santos: We know that.

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Antonio Santos: As a massive investment from the Commission in in the digital space funding startups funding projects in different countries, so is there any safeguards or measures that are in place.

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Antonio Santos: That guarantee that you know windows investors investments are made in these kind of technologies.

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Antonio Santos: They they somehow support the creation of a better web and more inclusive web we don't want let's say to invest in a kind of a health care system in bicycle That then is not accessible for people disabilities or do the same in other good, how can we make sure that.

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Antonio Santos: We keep intone within accessibility.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): yeah I mean, obviously, as I say, for public sector, the law is there, so that puts the framework, but obviously.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): The email itself is a complex and very multifaceted set up, you know we're a unique kind of body across the world there's no one else quite like us.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): and obviously getting that word down to you know your Portuguese Council that their local website for rubbish collection actually has to be accessible.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know that's quite that can be quite a challenge for the Member States in that, and we know that the Member States, been working very hard to do that.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know we're talking about 10s of thousands of websites, possibly even more than that, in some Member States, and so it's quite.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Challenging chain to be absolutely sure that that's going to work every time but for us in terms of the services we procure I think we're getting steadily better at saying.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Things have to be accessible websites, have to be accessible publications have to be accessible and so on.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And I think the men and the Member States definitely are trying to do that as well and in and post code, which I think is obviously made everyone.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): It sort of highlighted the importance the possibilities of home working and the challenges when it doesn't work it really doesn't work.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And so, as a part of the commission's that of response to build that better from code, there is huge sums of money through a phone call the recovery and resilience facility.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): I think if memory serves its over 650 billion in total for the all the Member States so we're talking about big sums of money here.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And 20% of that has to be earmarked for digital projects and so that is really unique opportunity for the Member States so for our Member countries.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): To invest in digital and to really invest in digital that is actually human centric and inclusive and an accessible, from the start.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): As well as sort of investing in the digital skills and opportunities that we need to have a sustainable digital economy so.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know I can't promise that everyone who receives a you funding is going to have heard of accessibility you're going to spend their money, the way we'd like them to spend it but we're really trying to get that message out there and to have it really in from the start.

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Debra Ruh: Which is so smart that you're doing it right at the beginning, because, as we all know, as you said so eloquently retrofit fitting, it is just so much more expensive and.

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Debra Ruh: And I know that the EU, in some ways, really took a leadership role at which we appreciate it here in the States, when you were you know.

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Debra Ruh: Providing the different content of how do you get accessible, there was a lot of stuff you're providing early on.

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Debra Ruh: which really was helping and it was it was very interesting also This is also i'm going back a ways, but when we had our section five away and we were.

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Debra Ruh: Allowing our corporates to sort of self regulate and.

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Debra Ruh: If I remember the you know we came over a bunch of US came over from the States to the EU, and we were talking about how y'all were going to do it and you're going to be a lot actually stricter than we were in the States and I.

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Debra Ruh: Just really, really appreciated that I really did, and I know in the states we Sue each other, and I also.

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Debra Ruh: Even though I think that's a messy way to do things I also am glad because i'm so tired of the excuses i'm just tired of them.

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Debra Ruh: You know, we can't do it is too much trouble we don't have enough money but actually if you blend it if you blend it in you just try, can you at least don't tell us it's too hard to even try so.

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Debra Ruh: I appreciate from my lens what you're doing I I also liked that you talked about procurement because something that we were really.

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Debra Ruh: You know, really, really harassing the United States Government about is make sure you put it in all your procurement, because then it protects you.

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Debra Ruh: Even if they don't do it right, or they forget you're protected, so I appreciate the leadership that you're showing there.

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Debra Ruh: And I think it's a great idea what you're doing how you're tying it in to the relief money, so I think that's very cool the other comment I wanted to make one question I want to make is.

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Debra Ruh: And I don't want it, this you know all to be from us lens, but of course we like to use the stick and carrot or the stick and carrot approach and so.

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Debra Ruh: How did how Are there things that you're doing to.

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Debra Ruh: Certainly you're talking about the benefit to everyone in the human Center so I understand how you're doing the carrot and you're definitely making sure people have the content they need, but what approaches are y'all taking to making sure that people comply.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): yeah no that's a really good question and.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And really I think there's sort of two layers to my answer, if I can remember the second layer by the time I finished talking about the first one.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): So, within the director of itself, which I think is I mean, and I have to say, credit to those who preceded me who actually wrote and drafted and negotiated the director of it was nothing to do with me I inherited it.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): But within each country, you have to have a monitoring body, and you have to have basically a contact point.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): So I think that is great, because it means there is a single point of contact persons with disabilities, within that Member States should know their rights and if they're not getting them.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): They should be able to contact that whether it's an Ombudsman or a particular organization, however it's set up so reflecting natural the natural national culture.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You can go to one point, you can say look, I asked for this, they didn't reply to me they haven't done it right, this whatever this isn't accessible.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): I want you know redress and then you have sort of administrative procedures and the law foresees that that has to happen, so the Member States have have to do that on our website, we have a.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): list of all those bodies so that was the one stop shop people to find them and so that's great.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And then the other side of it, and this is in general for all EU legislation.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Is that when it's a directive it basically says we set the aims and we say you know, this is what you have to do, but we're not going to tell you how you have to word your legislation.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): So now we have my poor wonderful staff who are the legal experts have.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): 100 plus texts to plow through to check that that is compliant so it's completed its conform with the with what we specified in the directive.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And if we find that there's something that's really missing, then you know there, there is a procedure that we can.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): eventually take the Member State to court now, obviously, that is, the nuclear option, I really don't think that's ever going to happen in this particular case, because in fact the Member States have been extremely willing and have been very, very.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know they've really put a lot of effort and resources in, and we can see that we're all pulling in the same direction.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): it's not like sometimes where people you know where there can be more tensions about that because it's actually been much more controversial.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): think it wasn't a particularly controversial act, we know that the Member States are doing their best they have to report to us for the first time by the end of this year.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): On what they've done and then after that it's every three years, I think, two or three years, and so we have these kind of mechanisms in in the directive from the start, so there is a stick there, but, as I say, it's not a stick I hope we will have to use in the future.

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Neil Milliken: If I may follow on from that so so the direct demons transposed into the law and one of the great things that happened in that.

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Neil Milliken: In that writing process in the UK was actually they made a breach of the public sector web regulations equates to a breach of the Equality Act.

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Neil Milliken: And so, and that was really a useful.

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Neil Milliken: A useful strategic thing to do, because the quality X 2010 was quite a willing piece of legislation and it defined what discrimination was but it didn't describe accessibility and therefore it didn't describe that it didn't really outline that in accessibility was discriminatory.

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Neil Milliken: So so by the combining of those two pieces of legislation, you finally end up with something that's fairly concrete that says if you're not accessible you're discriminating and that's.

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Neil Milliken: against the law and so that was really, really That was really useful so that's sort of set the legal precedent and hopefully that that precedent will continue to spread out.

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Neil Milliken: I think that as we go towards 2022 with the state's creating their own legislation and then 2025 when it becomes really into full force.

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Neil Milliken: The there's going to be some definite challenges we mentioned that the challenges of.

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Neil Milliken: retrofitting as as we go from you know public sector, which is super important, and you know really crucial to to supply store to citizens, but everyday products, the number of things that needs to be made accessible, we need to be checked is going to increase.

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Neil Milliken: exponentially.

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Neil Milliken: So I know that that a lot of people that are aware of this, or you know quite concerned about how much effort that needs to be to do this it's necessary effort as far as i'm concerned.

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Neil Milliken: But, but we have with we're somewhat lacking in the skills.

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Neil Milliken: In order to do this not only the the work to make stuff accessible, but also on the other side in terms of the enforcement I won't say it's a stick, because I think that that you can enforce stuff without necessarily the stick there's the.

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Neil Milliken: sticks necessary at the end, but but, but the enforcement needs to happen and that needs to be through the monitoring bodies as that body of what comes in the scope of what must be accessible.

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Neil Milliken: How do we as an accessibility profession and Europe and the US and others because it's not just you know your your your legislation that you're bringing to force is going to affect people in the US in the same way that.

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Neil Milliken: That privacy legislation has had an effect, which is why i'm really excited about it actually because I think that that.

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Neil Milliken: That piece of legislation, this big can have a global effect, even though it's driven by Europe, but how do we.

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Neil Milliken: How do we collectively start to upscale people and share that knowledge, because I think that's going to be one of the real challenges and might even be the crucial point between success and failure.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Now I totally agree with you nail, I think I totally share that analysis, I think.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know within Europe we're really short of ICT professionals anyway, and so this March recent anyway, this year there's been a.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): quite important communication adopted called the digital compass, which really says we were we want Europe to be by 2030 so in this digital decade.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And one of the really key and very ambitious targets that's been set, is that we moved from having 8 million ICT specialist having 20 million by 2030 and with gender convergence now.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): That is a brilliant targets and i'm totally in favor I don't know how we're going to get there, but, partly because of this funding the exceptional funding as a recovery to cove it.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Also, because for the first time we have a dedicated digital program in our funding, like our financial envelope for the next seven years.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And within the digital program we have a strand, that is looking at digital skills and particularly the advanced skills, so I mean the super complex stuff cybersecurity.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): htc artificial intelligence all that stuff so again investment going in at European level in terms of devising these courses and getting that sort of stuff up and running.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And we are trying very hard to point out to everyone, we meet, and we can call it anywhere to say.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Accessibility should be part of those digital skills, because we need people to being taught this you know I think personally it's quite shocking that it isn't a sort of.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Accessibility one on one isn't there within whatever you're doing in terms of ICT or design or anything like that, I mean.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Why not, you know I just don't know why it isn't hardwired in there, from the start and so we're trying to sort of have those conversations and trying to say.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know, look this money is going in this we know we need more people let's at least make them talk that conversation because, as you say it's a growth area.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And it's also a fantastic opportunity to get peers persons with disabilities really good jobs, because we need persons with disabilities, doing the testing it's.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Not pointless and I won't say that because our director for CS two types of testing in depth and simplified or automated there's obviously a place for automated testing and to do that at scale.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): But we really need to have that user experience involved and that I think is really a win, win you know we know, persons with disabilities, a horribly discriminated against in the market in the workforce.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know this is a chance to actually have a good jobs that serve a real need, and that can create really a virtuous circle, instead of this vicious circle of exclusion.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Not recognizing skills not you know, being in poverty, and you know everything that we don't want and socially, we know we don't want and economically is just a waste of a good human resources there.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): So you know fingers crossed we're doing our bit we're trying our best and i'm really hopeful that this these legends these pieces of legislation we actually will make the market show that it's practical and really show them that we need that there is a market for accessibility specialists.

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Neil Milliken: yeah so.

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Neil Milliken: i'm not leaving.

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Neil Milliken: Because.

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Neil Milliken: we're we're in the market we're growing where I work for we're growing our accessibility and we've been.

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Neil Milliken: Perfectly honestly struggling to find enough people with the skills that we want and so seven years ago around about the same time has access to it must be a good year we started our first apprenticeship scheme.

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Neil Milliken: and

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Neil Milliken: we've been running accessibility apprenticeships, ever since, and in fact the best bit of the story is the fact that one of my former apprentices.

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Neil Milliken: was working with me as the co Chair of the trailblazer group that created the national apprenticeship standard traditional accessibility specialist in the UK.

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Neil Milliken: I would love to see this standard be adopted elsewhere or something similar i'm not precious about it because it's not my piece of work it's open source, so you can go to you can go find it and take all the information.

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Neil Milliken: But it seems to me that that clearly you know.

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Neil Milliken: It really is every public sector body has a need for people every company delivering services to those public sector bodies needs people right now and will need people to.

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Neil Milliken: change their offerings adopt adapt their their technologies helped create new ones, because of the legislation that's coming so.

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Neil Milliken: We really, you know as a community and it's not just me, because this was a collective effort to create this thing really, really need to be doing this.

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Neil Milliken: But I know that it works, because we we've done it before, so I would I would love to understand and connect with people in Europe to.

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Neil Milliken: To see this rollout further and us and wherever, because actually.

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Neil Milliken: We need thousands of people doing this man 10s of thousands actually not five or six you know and not little silos and and to take to your point around the different types of testing getting I mean, yes, it would be great to you know engage more people with disabilities in accessibility.

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Neil Milliken: I really, really want to get to the point where accessibility isn't the only viable job in tech for people with disabilities.

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Neil Milliken: So.

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Neil Milliken: It becomes one of those difficult.

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Neil Milliken: Questions and balances, if you like, where.

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Neil Milliken: People go, what are you are, you know you're working access, do you only employee disabled people in your team know we we employ people of all sorts we actively encourage people with disabilities and.

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Neil Milliken: But we also want them to go into other jobs and the point of us doing accessibility is so they can do these other jobs so so I mean it's it's.

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Neil Milliken: Hopefully, and I think you know, obviously you're great ally for this, this is going to be something that will be part of that vision going forwards, is there stuff that we can do as a community to add to your voice.

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Neil Milliken: you're on mute, by the way to.

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Neil Milliken: you're muted still.

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say.

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Debra Ruh: Technology.

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Debra Ruh: It will drive you crazy.

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Neil Milliken: This is either.

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Neil Milliken: Battery related or bluetooth.

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Debra Ruh: yeah and and as she's doing that, just to take some pressure off of her i'm glad you brought up the apprentice Program.

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Debra Ruh: That y'all have lead it with a toast because I just think it's a brilliant idea and I think every single country should take a look at what you've done and adopt it, I do because, how do we grow.

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Debra Ruh: talent if we're not training them, so I just i'm really glad you brought it up, I know we're going to feature you on human potential at work, but I also I want to say, while June gets her thing working that.

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Debra Ruh: One thing that we saw that happened in the States was that we did understand one lovely benefit it probably is a battery as you see you're having to leave poor thing.

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Debra Ruh: But one thing that we saw was that.

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Debra Ruh: You know, as more people like me started bringing technologists with disabilities into the field and encouraging more and teaching them and everything that.

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Debra Ruh: The marketplace started realizing that because these people were accessibility experts that they could also be really good in other parts, so we saw that happen in the state so i'm not saying it's perfect but i'm saying that it was a positive trend that I thought was very helpful.

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Neil Milliken: I totally agree and I think that one of the things that was good that we were forced to do and I found in a struggle at first, when we were not got the blinkers on we want accessible as eaters was the the way that the standards works is that they look at the different.

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Neil Milliken: sort of transferable skills so which other tech areas they overlap with cyber security.

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Neil Milliken: Application development and all of this stuff so so so.

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Neil Milliken: The intent behind it is to set people up with the skills that enable them to have a career and.

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Debra Ruh: I know that Antonio had mentioned in our chat that also it's about aging too.

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Debra Ruh: Because, as juniors saying, and once again we're just going to take some pressure off Julius she solves these things, but you know at is June was saying we need everybody to work, we need people with disabilities to work because, as we age.

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Debra Ruh: There are less workers and we don't want the children to work, we would like the children to not have to work, so I think it's just a really important point, I also wanted to say one other thing.

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Debra Ruh: I keep hearing, I we've all heard that how hard things are we can't do it we can't do it, for this reason, or that reason well.

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Debra Ruh: Okay, well, can we say the same thing about privacy and security because, by the way, it's really hard to stay on top of security and privacy, but if you don't.

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Debra Ruh: we're coming for you right, so I don't i'm just not i'm so tired of.

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Debra Ruh: Always we are the ones left out the Community, people with disabilities, we get left out because it's too hard, oh it's too expensive oh we're spending our own money well when you're spending your own money.

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Debra Ruh: Why don't you just ask some of your partners to help you with accessibility, but after you build it all.

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Debra Ruh: yeah No thank you i'm not coming in and retrofitting it because it's just gonna cost a fortune to fix it so.

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Debra Ruh: i'm just growing really impatient with people saying oh it's just too much trouble to do it so i'm really appreciative of the efforts that June in the EU is making and others because.

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Debra Ruh: When is it not the excuse going to be, I was just too hard i'm just sort of tired of that excuse so, but once again it's too hard to do privacy it's too hard to do cybersecurity so let's just not do it.

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Neil Milliken: yeah I think that people have accepted the necessity of privacy and cyber security and the.

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Neil Milliken: and also the the fact that there is this requirement that it must happen.

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Neil Milliken: This mainly right.

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Neil Milliken: Does everyone get it right hundred percent of the time you.

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Debra Ruh: know but they're trying.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): sorry about that.

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Debra Ruh: You know, God, you were we were we understand and we understand how embarrassing, it is we're so sorry that, for that, but technology happens so we just we tap danced in the background for you.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): that's very thoughtful lucky.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): place like.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): a help desk I just said yeah.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): it's just frozen use your laptop.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Trying to plug everything in.

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Debra Ruh: It so stressful walk in that so.

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Debra Ruh: You know, we were saying.

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Debra Ruh: As you were being stressed out.

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Debra Ruh: We were just talking about once again and i'll say this when you when you're hearing it June.

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Debra Ruh: I love the apprentice program that they have pulled together Daytona I believe it is a real and i'm sorry that i'm bragging about a toes and Neil, and the team, but.

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Debra Ruh: It really is a great idea and one thing that we saw in the States June was we did start employing people with disabilities to be accessibility experts, a lot of them were already technology.

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Debra Ruh: If they already very familiar with it, but then we started seeing more people.

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Debra Ruh: actually go into these experts with disabilities, that really understood accessibility and taking them into.

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Debra Ruh: Other types of field in the tech field, so it was very promising and one other comment that I made while you were.

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Debra Ruh: being stressed out was that you know, privacy and security that's also very hard, and you know it's complicated and sometimes you think that's right and and it's not and, but you have to do it, and I believe accessibility should be like that, as well, so yeah.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): An off the record Neil sorry before we go back is.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): I was just making a note that I think we should maybe we can invite you to talk about that or someone appropriate to talk about that UK just digital traineeship apprenticeship scheme to the expert group that we have for the.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): accessibility to the Member States.

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Debra Ruh: And we still are on air.

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Neil Milliken: We will cut that out.

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Neil Milliken: we're still recording at the moment.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): But you can check.

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Debra Ruh: That out.

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Debra Ruh: So we'll take a quick pause.

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Debra Ruh: And then look, you know, do you risk and June you respond to you know that how technology positions can lead to more.

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Debra Ruh: You know more opportunities for people with disabilities so.

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Neil.

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Antonio Santos: So that is to go back to the question where we left okay.

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Neil Milliken: Yes, yeah so what what What did you were where did it all go on to.

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Neil Milliken: What What did you hear.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): What did I lost here, he was talking about the fantastic scheme, you have in the.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): UK I think about your.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Digital traineeships and.

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Neil Milliken: apprenticeships, which I think it's.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Definitely, something we can all learn from.

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Neil Milliken: Okay, so one of the Okay, so I will I wanted to follow up with that because I think that we would love to see it port because it's totally open source.

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Neil Milliken: And you would so my question, so if we're ready to start again my question to you really is, how can the Community.

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Neil Milliken: amplify your voice in terms of bringing this up the agenda in terms of making sure that this is something that the European Commission and the Member States really understand that we want and we really wish to contribute to yeah i'm in the digital skills agenda definitely well.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): there's two obvious ways that spring to mind first of all, specifically about the word review and I really must say this because the clock is ticking for this, so we have at the moment, public consultation.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): We haven't had to public consultations online and the Twitter chat I can give the links on Tuesday and.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): One of which is the typical sort of EU legal speak quite not that complicated, but quite lengthy sort of questionnaire, but, for the first time ever, to our knowledge, at least.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And we've also done a sort of simple text easy to read text which is just I think 10 questions really as pared down as we can.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And what I think is super interesting is that we've had twice as many responses to that simple, easy to read text, as we have to the full online questionnaire so that also tells a story, I think.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): So please anyone listening to this have your say on the web accessibility review give us your views.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): On what you think the legislation is at the moment, which are what legislation for the public sector, but we have to review it formally and that has to be done by next June so it's a real chance for that, in terms of digital skills as I.

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Neil Milliken: say there is money going to go into this.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And the Commission, for example, kind of facilitates a bit of a like a marriage broker sort of matchmaker.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): So we have already digital traineeships where a firm can come and say we're offering these digital traineeships who's interested or someone can say i'm interested what is there out there and I think that's another vehicle that we can really try and push the accessibility.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Need for we need more accessibility specialist there are jobs there, as you said yourself firms are looking for them.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And these are the positions can also be a sort of stepping stone for persons with disabilities into more tech jobs, because we know we need more diversity in the ICT industry.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know I mean, with all due respect to the lovely white men of a certain age that we have in this conversation.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): You know the world is not just made up of guys, like you, you know, so we need more diversity and that really includes people of all sorts of abilities.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And to stop you know the obvious discrimination that can happen in Ai and algorithms and so on and so on, we just need to get more diversity into the into the ICT workforce.

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Antonio Santos: So June, so we are no.

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Antonio Santos: In September, what are you what have you plan until the end of the year, what are the activities around your work that we important for us, or for the Community to follow.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Okay, so.

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Antonio Santos: straight up is this online public consultation, so I think that in finishes about mid October.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): early October, we then have all our homework to do really looking at all the replies that we receive.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): we're also talking regularly, we have a really nice network ourselves with the Member States in the civil servants there and the different ministries.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Who were also working with and trying to support them and help them help each other to actually meet the requirements of the directory, so we have a great network there we know people are working really hard.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): And for the Member States, the big deadline is then December by which stage they have to deliver their first formal reports to us.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): So, then, we again have to do our homework as of January next year, because the deadline is to have this formal review of the web accessibility directive, including.

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June Lowery (DG CNECT): Analysis of the Member States reporting ready by 23rd of June next year, so we have quite a packed agenda between now and now and next June as well isn't now and the end of the year.

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Neil Milliken: Excellent that that's fantastic and we don't want the next June we're happy with the June that we've got.

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Neil Milliken: On.

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Neil Milliken: on access to really, thank you for bearing with us through the technical challenges need to thank our.

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Neil Milliken: Supporters Barclays Access, My Clear Text and Microlink for and keeping with us over the years, keeping this caption keeping us on that really look forward to joining us on Tuesday on Twitter, thank you very much my pleasure.