itsme® commits fully to digital inclusion
After opening up the identity app to 16 and 17-year-olds, itsme® now announces an upgraded version of the app for blind and visually impaired users.
In recent months, itsme® has been fully committed to increasing its digital accessibility. Now, the identity app is launching an upgraded version for blind and visually impaired users, while also giving youngsters aged 16 and 17 access to the app. itsme® also continues to invest in digital literacy, including the production of instruction videos in 18 languages, as well as teaching material dealing with cybersecurity for secondary education pupils (3th grade).
By doing so, itsme® - which is currently the only accredited government partner providing the very highest level of security, alongside the electronic identity card - is emphasising its social responsibility in our increasingly fast-moving digital world.
Blind and visually impaired users
Although blind and visually impaired users have already been able to use the vast majority of itsme® functionalities, they were not previously able to access the PIN pad for the app (which is used to enter your PIN code). They enter their PIN with the help of VoiceOver technology. Using this process, they hear a voice description of the contents on the screen, without having to see the image. This feature was initially incompatible for combining with the strong security of the itsme® PIN pad.
However, thanks to new developments in its operating system, itsme® has found a solution for iOS users (iPhone) and a new version of the itsme® app recently became available in the App Store. As a result, the PIN pad now works using Apple’s VoiceOver technology and is easy to use for people with a visual impairment, without compromising the strict security requirements imposed by itsme®.
In collaboration with experts and the visually impaired
Various organisations were involved in developing the enhanced itsme® app for blind and visually impaired users: equal opportunities centre Unia and two external consultancies, Eleven Ways and Anysurfer, both of which specialise in digital accessibility. Last summer, Eleven Ways investigated to analyse what obstacles the itsme® app and new website might contain for blind and visually impaired users. The conclusion was clear: the app no longer contains any blocking issues for visually impaired users. A group of users with no or low vision was the first to test the new solution and declared itself satisfied with the results.
The Unia equal opportunities centre welcomes the enhanced accessibility of itsme® for iOS users with a visual impairment.
Roel Van Gils from Eleven Ways agrees that this is an important step forward:
In view of the fact that the Android operating system does not offer the same security guarantees at the moment, this upgrade is not yet available for smartphones that run on Android. To install the itsme® app – for which a PIN code is required – blind or visually impaired Android users still need assistance on a one-off basis. After that, they can use the app independently by activating the biometric features on their phone. The itsme® team continues to keep an eye on development of the Android technology so that these users will also be offered another solution over time.
In addition to improving accessibility for blind and visually impaired users, itsme® also wants to focus more on digital self-sufficiency in young people. As a result, and since last month, 16 and 17-year-olds can also create an account with the identity app. They can do so via their bank (Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING, CBC, KBC, Fintro or Hello Bank) if they have had their eID card scanned recently in a bank branch. Creating an itsme® account using an electronic identity card is not technically possible, because the signature certificate on the eID (which is required to confirm your itsme® registration) can only be activated from the age of 18.
By opening up itsme® to young users, they are able to become more actively involved in digital society – which also gives them a good deal more independence. This is a good thing, because there are increasingly more situations in which underage users can benefit from having an itsme® account in their own name: enrolling for higher education, doing the admin for a holiday job, retrieving personal information from their “Burgerprofiel” (the citizen app from the Flemish government), applying for a driving licence online via BelDrive – and so on. By extending its availability to 16 and 17-year-olds, itsme® hopes to involve this age group earlier in the digitalisation process, because figures show that as many as one-third of Belgian youngsters are experiencing difficulties with the digital (r)evolution.
With this in mind, itsme® has now joined forces with the educational school broadcaster, ED TV. This digital platform for the youth is designed to make social issues easier to discuss in the classroom. Working with itsme®, ED TV has developed two fiction series, one about digital helpers (‘digital buddies’) and the other dealing with cybersecurity. Each series consists of three or four
10-minute episodes. Each episode also includes a learning kit so that the classroom group can continue talking about the topic afterwards or carry out assignments. /
Digital inclusion in the wider society
itsme® is also working with various associations and platforms (such as 123Digit.be) to promote digital inclusion in the wider society. For example, there is now an instruction video that explains how you create an itsme® account, which has been translated into 18 languages. Digital helpers (‘digital buddies’) also receive educational material from itsme® and can fill in a special contact form that enables their questions to receive priority treatment from the itsme® team. This means that ‘digital buddies’ are able to give immediate help to anyone who needs assistance.