EU research shows how science can help disabled people

November 6, 2002

Brussels, 5 November 2002

As part of the "European Science and Technology Week" (4-10 November 2002) €2,7 million campaign, EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin today opened the SMART ("Society Moves with Advanced Research Technology") exhibition in Brussels. The travelling SMART exhibition is housed in two especially designed mobile trailers and everything inside it is developed for, or in collaboration with, disabled people. The trailers demonstrate how technologies can help the handicapped. These technologies range from displays on body parts to hearing and visual aids and tools to help immobilised people interact with others. A simulator provides a demonstration of what it is like to be handicapped.

"The goal of the European Science and Technology Week is to improve understanding of how science can enhance European citizens' quality of life," said Commissioner Busquin. "SMART shows that technology can help people with particular needs but may also help others. For instance, the telephone was first designed to help those with hearing impairments. Science has to open up to society. Within the 6 th EU Research Framework Programme (FP6 2003-2006), we will further promote the dialogue between researchers, experts and laymen. And we will focus on target audiences such as the disabled."

The EU-funded SMART initiative is managed by the Swedish Handicap Institute in co-operation with the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the Danish Centre for Technical Aids for Rehabilitation and Education, and the Italian National Research Council. It is one initiative in a cluster of nine projects, supported by the Commission as part of European Science and Technology Week and funded with a total budget of €2,781 million. They aim to raise awareness on diverse scientific issues such as earth observation and weather, particle physics and energy, tanning techniques, and many more physical phenomena and technological applications.

Two of these projects are also on display in Brussels. COMPOTOUR is an exhibition that shows how composite materials such as carbon fibre resins are used to produce objects ranging from chairs to racing cars. SCI-BUS is a bus that demonstrates how science can be explained to the commuter through thought-provoking posters and presentations.

The Science Week is one of the activities in the Commission's Science and Society action plan. Presented in December 2001, the action plan aims to bring science closer to the citizen. The Commission will allocate €80 million to this priority within the framework of FP6.

For further information please visit:

ScienceWeek:

http://www.cordis.lu/scienceweek

SMART:

http://www.smartontour.nu/

Science and Society Action Plan:

http://www.cordis.lu/science-society

DN: IP/02/1611 Date: 05/11/2002

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