- The Department of Health has reported around 500 responses to its ’Maps and App’s project to create new smartphone and tablet applications in the healthcare arena. The department has received thousands of comments and votes on the various apps, with one of the most popular being ‘Me, Myself & I’ , an independent self-assessment tool which identifies health and social needs via innovative game play. More here.
- The Telegraph reported that smartphone adoption is rocketing among young adults and those aged 55-64. Data from Nielsen shows that smartphone penetration among users who are around retirement age jumped by five per cent in the last three months alone. That rate of increase is outstripped only by those aged 18-24. It should be noted however that older people are still only likely to have a modern mobile phone in three out of every ten cases. Nearly two-thirds of those aged 25-34, by contrast, own a smartphone.
On the Nielsen blog, the company wrote that “while only 43 per cent of all US mobile phone subscribers own a smartphone, the vast majority of those under the age of 44 now have smartphones”.
- High levels of assistance for disabled customers are being pioneered by the new flagship store for mobile network operator O2 in central London. The shop offers in-store advice on the benefits that mobile devices such as smartphones and their applications, features and functions can provide for people with sensory impairments.
All staff have also received sight loss and deaf awareness training in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and consultancy Positive Signs, and the shop is also home to O2 “guru” Abigail who is deaf and fluent in BSL. Plans are in hand to provide further advice and services for people with motor and learning difficulties
See: http://bit.ly/vvrCYj for more details (NB: the store is on Tottenham Court Road)
- A smartphone app offering digital versions of shop loyalty cards will open up card schemes to many disabled people for the first time. The “mClub” app from print and digital directories company Yell – which is free to download –allows retailers to offer deals such as “buy nine cups of coffee, get the 10th free” without using a physical card. A pilot service – available for both the Apple iPhone (http://bit.ly/pDmUyC ) and Android phones ( http://bit.ly/rfB9u6 ) – has been launched in London, Plymouth and Reading, with a BlackBerry service due to be released in the next few weeks.
Although the service was not originally designed for use by disabled people Artur Ortega, senior accessibility developer at Yell, used its potential to influence the design process.
“Before, it wasn’t possible for blind people to use loyalty cards,” … “You couldn’t find the right card in your pocket, and you didn’t know how many stamps were on it. The app is also useful for someone who has reduced mobility in their hands and who might have problems getting a card out of their pocket or wallet.”
Running the app itself was not too hard for blind users, with iPhones coming pre-installed with VoiceOver text-to-speech functionality and Android phones able to run similar software such as the Mobile Accessibility suite from Code Factory. This kind of approach, combined with geo-location technology, is implemented in the new smartphone version of the company’s home page www.yell.com, can be hugely liberating for disabled people,
“If I need a taxi, I can find one immediately and then call the taxi using the same device, I don’t have to copy telephone number – it’s two clicks away. Or I can order a table in a restaurant – it’s a huge advantage for blind people or people with reduced mobility…. Before, you had to call someone and ask them to put you through to the restaurant. If the line was busy you had to call again and ask them to look it all up again.” (Artur Ortega, via eAccess Bulletin)
- The Daily Express reported on “Deaf viewers’ anger at BBC subtitle gaffes” citing errors including calling Labour leader “Ed Miller Band” the Ireland rugby team described as “Island” and Dr Rowan Williams as the “arch bitch of Canterbury”.
The errors are so regular that viewers have set up a website listing all the mistakes. But groups representing the deaf said the problem had led to many complaints.
Emma Harrison, from Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Access to television is really important to people with a hearing loss. We urge all broadcasters to monitor the quality of their subtitling to ensure high standards, and invest in technology to reduce mistakes so people with hearing loss can access television in the same way as hearing people.”
The paper noted that “usually, pre-recorded subtitles are done before transmission and appear in time with a programme However, live subtitles are made by a stenographer typing words phonetically as they listen to a show, or with speech recognition, where someone talks into a microphone while listening to the broadcast, and a computer recognises their words. “
- Speakbook is an inexpensive, low-tech communication tool that allows someone to talk with a speaking partner using only their eyes. They claim it is easy to use and takes only seconds to learn. Speakbook was developed by Patrick Joyce, who has motor neuron disease, also known as MND or ALS. Patrick wanted to make his idea as cheap as possible, so speakbook.org is a not for profit organization, and anyone may download and print speakbook, for personal use, free of charge. More information via this link.
- A report from Audit Scotland says the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland should do more to consider telehealth when introducing or redesigning services. ’A review of telehealth in Scotland’ looks at how the health service is providing care to patients at a distance, using a range of technologies such as mobile phones, the internet, digital televisions, video-conferencing and self-monitoring equipment. The report argued NHS boards must look at new ways of delivering care, particularly as the NHS is facing growing demand. It suggested telehealth has the potential to help deliver a range of clinical services more efficiently and effectively, and boards should be considering it when introducing or redesigning services.
Audit Scotland assessed the use of telehealth to monitor patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) at home. The report concluded that telehealth management of COPD patients at home might help NHS boards avoid costs of around £1,000 per patient per year, mostly through reducing admissions to hospital. The report is here and there is a BBC news item here.
- The King’s Fund has launched a dedicated area of its website for telecare and telehealth topics, which is here.
- Computer Weekly magazine has published an article outlining the costs and benefits of implementing telecare services, which is available via this link.
5. Older People
- Interesting item on the ILC-UK Blog pages looking at older drivers and behavioural change: how ‘nudges’ can support the process of self-regulation. See: http://bit.ly/uRonzL
- Former Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly spoke to the Daily Mail commenting:
‘I know my stand has made a massive difference to women in broadcasting. You are seeing more older women on prime time, which is fantastic.
‘I’d like to see more older women anchoring programmes, rather than just contributing to them, but hopefully that will happen.
‘The BBC is changing. A friend heard a conversation in the loos there the other day, during which one producer said to the other: “Oh, are you going to this Miriam O’Reilly thing?” It turned out the BBC are running workshops to inform people about treating older people fairly and understanding ageism. So the message is getting through.’
- Ageing research consortium KT_EQUAL has launched a national photography competition which set out to challenge our preconceptions about how older people interact with technology now and in the future. Entitled ‘Left to Our Own Devices’, the contest is run in partnership with Age UK. Entries will be judged not only on their photographic merit but also on how they address issues related to the central theme of older people’s interactions with technology — perhaps by challenging stereotypes, defying expectations or delivering a powerful message.
The most successful images will be selected from across four categories:
- Gadgets and Gizmos
- In the Home
- Out and About
- An open category
All the selected images will be included in a touring exhibition that will visit the Parliament at Westminster and the Assemblies at Cardiff and Stormont, and finishing at the Scottish Parliament next spring, and one image in each category will also receive a cash prize of £250.
The closing date for entries is 31 January 2012 and there is more information here.
- Disability Alliance, the National Centre for Independent Living and Radar have agreed to unify to form ‘Disability Rights UK’. Following a year of discussions, the three charities will come together on 1 January 2012. Details here.
- ICT Access Barriers are ‘Common Across Europe’ according to early findings of a survey of policies in 30 nations (the EU countries, plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland). Problems encountered include creating accessible content; standards compliance; problems procuring accessible systems; and a lack of awareness and understanding. The project is run by the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education to raise awareness of the issues surrounding accessible information provision for lifelong learning.
“There are an estimated 80 million people in the EU with disabilities of varying sorts and to differing degrees, and as the age profile shifts, so too will the proportion with disabilities”, John Galloway, a consultant working on dissemination of i- access findings. “There is no one solution to the issue of ensuring that any information in an electronic format, whether a web-page, a text message, an on- screen document, or an information film, is available to all of them equally.”
“For each country, we need to find out – what policies do they have, and how do they put them into practice? What are the differences and similarities? The lessons learned from across Europe will be brought together for everyone to share, so this difficult issue can be addressed.”
Full details of the research and a report of a project conference co-hosted by the Danish Ministry of Education in Copenhagen this June are due to be published shortly, with the final project recommendations expected towards next summer.
8. Digital Inclusion
- The Nominet Trust has just launched their £250k Challenge to support projects that address the recommendations set out in their second State of the Art Review ‘The internet and an ageing population’. In particular, they are looking to invest in projects that work with older people (65+) and involve the internet and other technologies. The minimum level of funding is £1,000. Project outlines should be submitted by the 1 February 2012 and those shortlisted will be invited to submit a full application by 1 March 2012. Find out more here.
- In an interview with the Daily Telegraph Esther Rantzen argued: ‘Old folk need to get web-wise’.
Rantzen argued that community-minded neighbours could help to solve two real problems for elderly people: loneliness and lack of technological expertise. She recently wrote a piece about how lonely she is, as a widow of 10 years, and said that the article had had “an amazing response”.
“Perhaps there are older people living near you that you could identify. Why not bang on a door, or pick up a phone? What many people miss most is the chance for a chat and a cuppa, and all of that could lead to mentoring, or a friendship. Maybe you could help people to get online to do banking. What is they say – don’t bank on it? Well I say – let’s bank on it.”
The article also cited recent research from the Payments Council which shows that, “although the over 65s are savvier about energy efficiency grants and loft insulation that their younger counterparts, they do not use technology or switch brands often – meaning that they could be spending far more money than they need on basic utilities.
Over a third have not checked if they are on the best rate for their utility bills in the past year. Fewer than a third of current account holders over 65 use internet banking, while under a quarter bank by phone. Despite falling cheque usage, older people still rely on their chequebooks to send payments, and few use direct debits to clear regular debts, even though this can help them to avoid fees and penalties. “