The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) is the largest public institution dedicated to research in Spain and the third largest in Europe. Belonging to the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities through the Secretary of State for Universities, Research, Development and Innovation, its main objective is to develop and promote research that will help bring about scientific and technological progress, and it is prepared to collaborate with Spanish and foreign entities in order to achieve this aim. CSIC plays an important role in scientific and technological policy since it encompasses an area that takes in everything from basic research to the transfer of knowledge to the productive sector. Its research is driven by its centers and institutes, which are spread across all the autonomous regions, and its more than 15,000 staff, of whom more than 3,000 are staff researchers and the same number again are doctors and scientists who are still training. CSIC has 6% of all the staff dedicated to Research and Development in Spain, and they generate approximately 20% of all scientific production in the country. It also manages a range of important facilities; the most complete and extensive network of specialist libraries, and also has joint research units.
When technology is the problem: techno-social innovations to favor social inclusion
Today, social life is such that the realization of simple daily tasks forces us to relate to technological devices. But when the characteristics of these devices do not adapt adequately to our functional needs, the relationship becomes problematic. It is affected by the presence of gaps or barriers, of very different typology depending on the characteristics in conflict.
Reflecting critically and constructively on such barriers offers us numerous advantages. Perhaps the most remarkable is the possibility of implementing the opportune facilitators that lead to the development of more inclusive technologies. At present, however, in addition to information and communication technologies (the familiar ICT), we must incorporate new elements into reflection, such as the robotic devices that are increasingly being introduced in our closest spaces and of coexistence.
Eliminating technological barriers implies innovation processes that may come from particular users, from communities or from the developers themselves, and bring about social innovations, community innovations or simply instrumental innovations. In this sense, innovative ideas such as accessibility and universal design have long been established in the conceptual and practical wealth of users and developers.
The implementation of the appropriate facilitators and innovations also promotes technological appropriation and favors the participation of all people in the social environments to which the technologies give access. Reflecting on technological barriers thus acquires an ethical, social and political character, which implies the ideas of justice, rights and equal opportunities. Consequently, the main objective of critical and reflective knowledge about the technological framework in which we currently operate should not be other than to pave the way towards better, more respectful and inclusive societies for all people.