Damian Radcliffe

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Stories and issues relating to older and disabled people which have caught my eye in the last month

In Monthly round up: Older People and Disability issues on May 17, 2011 at 7:52 pm

 1.         100% accessibility of all digital broadcasting platforms by 2020… in Canada

  • The Canadian broadcasting regulator, CRTC, has included establishment of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund among conditions attached to its approval of the takeover of Canada’s largest TV network, CTV, by BCE ( http://www.bce.ca/en/ ), owner of communications company Bell.


BCE will be required to put forward 5.7 million Canadian Dollars to establish the fund, which will work to ensure 100% accessibility of all digital broadcasting platforms by 2020. Its work programme will focus on “innovation that provides platform-neutral solutions to ensure accessibility of all broadcasting content.”


The proposal had initially been put forward by the Access 2020 Coalition  an umbrella group led by the non-profit body Media Access Canada.


In its ruling (http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-163.htm ) the commission said that at least two-thirds of board members of the fund must be “persons with disabilities, representatives of disability organizations and/or other parties with relevant expertise in developing or implementing accessibility solutions.”


The fund will also be empowered to raise further funding from other sources, such as annual contributions by other broadcasters or broadcasting distributors.


Beverley Milligan, CEO of Media Access Canada, said: “This latest ruling by the CRTC makes them the first regulator in the world to take an alternative approach to ensuring 100% accessible content by 2020. They have empowered us to bring it about and now it is time for us to get down to work.”


2.         Assistive Technology

  • An ‘ideas marketplace’ for new open source assistive technology projects has been launched by a group of academics and developers with funding from JISC, the technology agency for UK colleges and universities.


The REALISE project ( http://www.realisepotential.org ) is an open, three-stage tool for creating new software technologies to make it easier for people with disabilities to use the internet, computers and mobile devices.


The first stage is an ‘ideas’ area, where anyone can ask for help with a problem or offer a theoretical solution. If there is enough interest in an idea and someone wants to take the lead, it can be moved to the second stage: the ‘incubator’, where a team of developers is assembled. Finally, the best ideas will move to full ‘project’ status, the third stage which will involve funding by non-profits or private companies.


According to the project’s brief, “At any stage commercial companies or researchers can become involved and may lead at the incubator or project stages. In the end companies may make money out of a project but will need to keep to any agreements during the development stages.”


  • The government’s ‘Plan for Growth’, which accompanied the Budget, includes a commitment to improve the take up of assisted living technology. The Plan commits the government to help establish a code of practice that sets a framework for services and technology, provides quality assurance to customers, and increases uptake, and to work with the Technology Strategy Board on developing assisted living solutions.  Read more: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/ukecon_growth_index.htm


3.         Apps & Software

  • A website dedicated to exploring apps, programs and advice for blind and visually impaired users of Android– Google’s operating system for mobile devices – has been launched by the online assistive technology store AT Guys.


Android Access features a list of accessibility apps by topic; a ‘getting started’ section, with information on choosing an accessible Android phone; and links to accessible Android news, blogs and forums: http://androidaccess.net/


  • There is a free open source version of Linux designed for the blind and visually impaired. It is called Vinux, and it is available at: http://www.vinux.org.uk


  • Great 7 minute video from AbilityNet’s Robin Christopherson explaining how his smartphone has transformed his ability to communicate and carry out a host of everyday tasks. Robin is blind, but this video shows how technology need not be a barrier to an active working – and personal – life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stZfcy7FV-0&feature=youtube_gdata


4.         Use of social media by disabled people to get results

  • BT has joined Twitter as BTCare – see www.twitter.com/btcare – and is responding to tweets from other users that mention difficulty in accessing with BT services.


This isn’t specifically a disability service but we have noticed some discussions with disabled consumers via this medium. The nature of this type of social networking site means that the correspondence usually takes place in public and anyone can read it.


5.         Telephony

  • BT has just published a new brochure about nuisance calls.

You can download the brochure or visit web site at www. bt.com/unwantedcalls

6.         Accessible products

  • BT has launched ‘Including You’ (here), a new website offering a range of accessible products and services for those who need extra help with communications.


Designed and developed in conjunction with AbilityNet, the national charity that enables people with disabilities to access technology and the internet, the site is the first to achieve the new AbilityNet accreditation mark. For more details, follow this link.


  • FAST has launched a booklet to help friends and family understand how equipment and technology can support the independence and safety of people with the early symptoms of dementia.


‘Getting Equipped to Tackle Forgetfulness’ was developed in partnership with Innovations in Dementia and Trent Dementia Services Development Centre, with funding from the Department of Health’s Reaching Out to Carers programme.


The guide provides information and tips on the equipment available, how to make decisions as a family about equipment and technology options and how and where to get hold of gadgets and other devices. The guide can be downloaded here.


  • The Stroke Association has launched a retail outlet to ‘help people in need of disability aids and mobility products find the correct equipment at a competitive price’. Details via this link. To visit Strokeshop go to www.strokeshop.org.uk.


7.         Telecare / Telehealth

  • According to an update on the WSDAN (Whole System Demonstrator Action Network) website, it is estimated that there are around 1.7 million people using telecare in England.


Local authority expenditure in England in this area during 2009/10 was over £83 million.


The current estimate for telehealth remote monitoring installations is around 6,000, which should increase during 2011. The update is here.


  • The Scottish Government and the UK’s Technology Strategy Board have announced that a large-scale telehealthcare demonstration programme involving at least 10,000 older and disabled people will run over four years from April 2012. Details via this link.


8.         Transport

  • The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is calling for buses and coaches to be forced to offer passengers the same audio-visual information already required in trains.


The ‘Talking Buses’ campaign is urging the government to expand the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations to require buses and coaches to offer both audible and visual journey information, including next stop and final destination, making them more accessible to blind and visually impaired users: http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/helpus/campaigns/talking-buses/


9.         Older People

  • Life expectancy has been growing for over half a century and the UK has now reached a point where there are more people over state pension age than children.


In 1950, a man aged 65 could expect on average to live to the age of 76. Today, he can expect to live to 87, and by 2050 to 91.


Today there are 10,000 people aged 100 or over, by 2050 there will be 275,000, and by 2030 people over 50 will comprise almost a third of the workforce and c. half the adult population.


10.       Disability

  • The Disability Benefits Consortium, a coalition of 41 charities and organisations, is warning that disabled people will be hardest hit by the welfare reforms. The Hardest Hit campaign website is here.


  • The Disability Alliance has published the latest edition of the ‘Disability Rights Handbook’ which is available via this link.


  • The Department of Health has published tools to help local authorities support people with learning disabilities into work and invest in supported employment, which evidence suggests can save money for social care. More details here.

links for 2011-05-16

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2011 at 2:01 am

links for 2011-05-12

In Uncategorized on May 13, 2011 at 2:01 am
  • The two co-founders of Yatown, Christopher Nguyen and Kevin Lim, who are former Google creators, and successful Internet industry experts, recognized the opportunity and created Yatown as a local social media solution specifically for neighbors to connect and share information where they live.

    “Yatown was born out of our own frustration in connecting to our neighborhoods online. We had to locate obscure mailing lists or antiquated and poorly maintained websites,” said CEO of Yatown, Christopher Nguyen. “People have been trying to solve this problem through services like Ning and other build-your-own-social-network sites, or Facebook groups. These approaches don’t work for three reasons: they’re too much work to set up, too difficult for neighbors to find, and people do not associate existing sites with their geographic neighborhood.”

links for 2011-05-11

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2011 at 2:01 am

links for 2011-05-09

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2011 at 2:01 am
  • Set of articles / user guides on Facebook, YouTube et al.
  • Users of sites such as Facebook have double the amount of friends online than they do in real life, according to research commissioned by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

    The study, found that that typical users of social networking sites have 121 friends online versus 55 physical chums.

    It found that one in 10 people has found their best friend online and that people tend to be more honest with friends online than when faced with friends.

    One in 10 also believes that they will meet really good life-long friends via the web.

    (tags: socialmedia)
  • When it was reported recently that the Daily Mail had become the world's second most popular newspaper website, it got me thinking about what the daily 'audience' of our UK newspapers now looks like. The below graphic shows the topline, combining actual ABC newspaper circulation figures, ABCe online circulation figures and social media fans and followers of named publication accounts (excluding individual journalist's personal followings). It of course doesn't allow for some very obvious crossovers between the three (or the degree to which some social media followers may be lapsed or rarely online), but still provides an interesting snapshot of how newspapers have evolved their audiences in recent times.

links for 2011-05-03

In Uncategorized on May 4, 2011 at 2:01 am

links for 2011-04-30

In Uncategorized on May 1, 2011 at 2:01 am
  • It was a year ago today – April 22, 2010 – that Facebook unveiled the Like button, the catalyst it uses to drive its now ubiquitous open social graph. The Like button has been integrated on more than 2.5 million websites with 250 million people engaging Facebook externally.

    We contacted Facebook for some stats on the Like button and platform engagement. Here is what they sent back:

    •Within the first three weeks of launching the Like button last April, more than 50,000 websites had added it. Now, since launching…
    •10,000 websites integrate with Facebook each day.
    •More than 250 million people engage with Facebook on external websites
    •More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook (including over 80 of comScore's U.S. Top 100 websites and over half of comScore's Global Top 100 websites)

  • I set up a Twitter account. It has three followers. And a new WordPress blog – attracted around 50 viewers at its peak.

    By miles the most effective elements of the campaign was printing an old fashioned newsletter and putting it though every letter box in town. And then recruiting 20 volunteers to knock on doors, explain our position and ask for support.

  • Journalist and programmer Adrian Holovaty has been building out local news databases for a while now. A former Washington Post staffer, Holovaty is also the creator of the open-source platform Django, as well as chicagocrime.org (which later was folded into EveryBlock).

    His site, EveryBlock, was founded in 2007 and supported by a grant from the Knight for two years before being acquired by MSNBC.com in 2009. After several years of being focused on the data of hyperlocal, the site’s recent relaunch signaled a major change of course, with the understanding that community also needs to be part of the equation.

    Here, Holovaty answers some questions by email with Street Fight about EveryBlock’s revamp, who is winning the hyperlocal game, and says it’s “too early to tell” on what local advertisers want from hyperlocal.

  • Local advertising represents one of the fastest growing segments in the online advertising industry with many companies emerging to tackle some of the challenging issues and, of course, chase a piece of the projected $42.5 billion pie.
  • AOL’s Patch network of hyperlocal news sites is making its first major update since AOL’s purchase of the Huffington Post last month, integrating Huffington Post technology in an effort to get citizens in each of its communities to contribute their own content to its sites. In a memo today, first reported by Forbes and included in part below, Patch Editor In Chief Brian Farnham says the company wants each of its 800 sites to sign up 10 community members to participate before the initiative officially launches next week.
  • The Guardian Local pilot has taught us a lot about new models of journalism but we will soon be winding it down.
  • In short. No and credit for trying.

    I was frustrated by much of the twitter chat around the announcement that Guardian local was no more. The insinuation seemed to be that this was a failed experiment. I tweeted that no experiment is a failure.

  • Patch has gotten somewhat of a bad reputation in journalism circles — remember when USC journalism professor Robert Hernandez asked Tim Armstrong if Patch is “evil” at 2010′s Online News Association conference? For those of you who have been living under a rock, Patch is AOL’s local news initiative that now has more than 500 sites in 20 different states. Some newspapers feel threatened by a big tech company, some say it’s a waste of money, some say Patch is exploitive of its staff– but maybe it’s just too early to tell whether Patch is really going to make a big impact in hyperlocal news.

    Despite the criticisms, I’ve lately noticed a few things that Patch is doing right to serve its communities. So whether you disagree with Patch or not, there’s a a thing or two you can learn from them about transparency and openness.