The potential for Project REALISE

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Five questions

We got a chance to catch up with some of the folks behind Project REALISE. REALISE is an acronym that stands for Refining and learning from online tools for Internet shared enterprise. The project focuses on accessibility and ease-of-use in the field of assistive technology, and has made breakthroughs in the education, employment, and health sectors. The key, they say, is finding the right partnerships.

Lately, they've been adding to their idea lab and incubator, while growing their community and getting ready for others to participate. Dr. Mike Wald, Senior Lecturer at the University of Southampton, is part of the core project team. He is a principal investigator and conducts research into accessible technologies for the project.

Dr. Wald was happy to help us understand how Project REALISE is primed to make the world more accessible.


1) What one big opportunity, outside of technology, has the best chance of being solved the open source way (i.e., through collaboration, transparency, sharing, meritocracy, rapid prototyping, community, etc.)?

The realisation that there are many more open source projects in the field of Assistive Technology than we originally expected and that there is a community being built around the mainstreaming of these technologies.

2) Tell our readers about Project REALISE. What is the project trying to accomplish?

Project REALISE will identify routes to sustainable innovative solutions through engaging key researchers, businesses, developers, and users in exploring open innovation. These groups frequently express the unmet need for collaboration in accessibility. REALISE will address this through an online community and will combine experience of accessibility and open development in the key education, employment, and health sectors.

3) How does Project REALISE leverage principles of the open source way?

REALISE will build on the growing awareness and interest in open source development, including assistive technologies, by:

  • Developing an online community with trust in an open development culture
  • Identifying relevant projects and people
  • Engaging users to help define the problem
  • Connecting parties interested in collaboration
  • Building the solutions
  • Identifying potential revenue streams
  • Managing the collaboration and any intellectual property
  • Engaging external parties in education and research

4) How would you define success for Project REALISE?

This project will:

  • Develop links across sectors of business, education, employment, and health, working in the field of open innovation and assistive technology
  • Enable growth in community collaboration across the boundaries of open source assistive technology development with the introduction of a market place / brokering system to encourage ideas and project development with guidance and social networking
  • Encourage wider interest in the provision of open source assistive and accessible technologies with case studies of ongoing projects
  • Guidance for future work in this area, as to how the methodologies used influenced the project outcomes

5) How can someone get involved in Project REALISE and what type of contributions does the project need?

Researchers, businesses, developers, and users will soon be able to contribute through the REALISE website at We will have lots of new features on it including guidance on business models, community, and governance models, and a licence differentiator tool.

More information


Jason Hibbets is a Community Director at Red Hat with the Digital Communities team. He works with the Enable Architect, Enable Sysadmin, Enterprisers Project, and community publications.

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