COST is an EU funding programme that enables researchers to set up their interdisciplinary research networks in Europe and beyond. It provides funds for organising conferences, meetings, training schools, short scientific exchanges, or other networking activities on a wide range of scientific topics. The new LEAD ME action will create a collaborative environment where people and ideas can grow around the central issue of Media Accessibility.
LEAD-ME started on October 1st and will run for 4 years. During the Kick-Off meeting, representatives from 24 EU countries voted Pilar Orero of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) as chair and other members as part of the Management Committee, including Dr. Juan Pedro Rica Peromingo who will be leading the Winter School in 2021 at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain).
LEAD-ME aims to help all stakeholders in the field of Media Accessibility and cross-cutting topics (e.g. AI and Interactive Technologies) in Europe to meet the legal milestones requested by the recently passed European legislation. Researchers, engineers, scholars as well as businesses and policymakers will be empowered by LEAD-ME with a common and unique platform which, during the next 48 months, will collect, create, share, and disseminate innovative technologies and solutions, best practices and guidelines, and promote them. Furthermore, it will contribute towards existing and new standards on Media Accessibility among 28 European or associated countries.
To do so, the LEAD-ME network will make use of the specific tools of the COST Action: meetings and working group meetings; educational institutes, short-term scientific missions; dissemination activities. LEAD-ME will boost a cultural change and the creation of a new mindset when designing tools for professional and private activities for all European citizens of all abilities and disabilities. This COST Action is strongly needed to avoid further fragmentation in the European accessibility scene, challenging the European Single Digital Market idea. The uneven take-up in Europe is the direct result of the complex nature of Media, the background technology involved, the fast-changing technology and business models, and the wealth of EU languages. This counts for both the market and research.