Damian Radcliffe

Posts Tagged ‘AbilityNet’

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.
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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 April 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm

1.         Disability

  • Dr Rachel Perkins has been appointed by the Minister for Disabled People to the Chair of Equality 2025. She will take up her role from 1 April 2011 for a three-year term.

Equality 2025 is a non-departmental public body of publicly appointed disabled people, which was established in December 2006.   The group offers strategic, confidential advice to Government on issues that affect disabled people. It reports to the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller.

See: http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/docs/abo/eq2025-chair-110328.pdf

 

  • Disability and ICT charity AbilityNet has launched the first Technology4Good awards. The awards scheme aims to  celebrate the hard work of the many charities, businesses and individuals across the UK who use digital technologies to help change our communities for the better.

 See: http://www.technology4goodawards.org.uk/

Nominations are open until 5pm on Monday 9th May, with the winners announced at an Awards Ceremony on Tuesday 7th June.

 

  • The British Stammering Association welcomed the success of the Oscar winning movie ‘The King’s Speech’, calling it ‘a golden opportunity to talk openly about stammering’. See the views here: http://www.stammering.org/kspoints.html

 

  • Scope’s latest Disabled People’s Panel survey focuses on the attitudes and behaviours that disabled people experience in everyday life. They are asking for people who are disabled or the parent of a disabled child, to participate in a short online survey. The survey should take around 10 minutes to complete and responses will remain anonymous. To take part visit: http://www.scope.org.uk/news/attitudes-towards-disabled-people

 

  • Monday 2nd May to Sunday 8th May 2011 is Deaf Awareness Week.  This year the week will ask you to ‘Look At Me’ aiming to improve understanding of the different types of deafness and the many different methods of communication used by deaf, deafened, deafblind and hard of hearing people, such as sign language and lipreading.

Supported by over one hundred deaf charities and organisations under the umbrella of the UK Council on Deafness, Deaf Awareness Week involves a UK wide series of national and local events. More at: http://www.deafcouncil.org.uk/daw/index.htm

 

  • Writing in the Observer, Aleks Krotoski, asked how the internet affects society and the way we live today, with a focus on disability. She noted:

 “The web has transformed the personal experiences of disabled people by creating a playing field for empowerment with access to information, connections and a platform for change. Yet we must reflect on our social attitudes to disability in the offline world instead of ignoring what we can’t see online. Only then will the web’s effect on disability become truly clear.”

See the full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/06/untangling-web-aleks-krotoski-disability

 

 2.         Third Sector

  • The Media Trust has closed their Community Newswire service as a result of changes in their funding following the Government spending review.

 

  • The Public Sector Equality Duty came into effect on 5 April. The Duty replaces the three existing public sector equality duties covering disability, race and gender. It also extends to other protected characteristics covered in the Equality Act 2010.

 

3.         Public Sector

The Duty has three aims. When developing or implementing policy, it requires public bodies to have due regard to the need to:

  • eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Equality Act 2010
  • advance equality of opportunity between people from different groups
  • foster good relations between people from different groups.

This means that public bodies need to consciously consider these three aims when making decisions that will affect the public. For example, the Duty covers how a public authority acts as an employer, how it develops policies, how it designs and delivers services and how it procures services.

‘Due regard’ means to consciously consider these three aims when making decisions about policy or practice which would affect people.  For example, the duty covers:

  • how a public authority acts as an employer
  • how it develops policies
  • how it designs and delivers services
  • how it procures services.

 

If a public authority fails to give due regard to the duty, it could be challenged through a judicial review made by an individual or by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

For more information visit: http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/disabled-people-and-legislation/disability-equality-duty-and-impact-assessments.php

  • The Department of Health’s Care Networks are being closed and the last telecare e-newsletter went out in February which is here (pdf – 902Kb) or here (doc – 1.22Mb). The DH Care Network’s telecare website will close by 31 March and the Telecare LIN website will be hosted by Telecare LIN Ltd here.

The Department is exploring how it can help ‘third parties communicate latest policy and practice information on telecare and telehealth in the future’.

In the meantime, the WSDAN (Whole System Demonstrator Action Network) website hosted by the King’s Fund will continue. This provides a portal to the latest news on three large-scale telehealth and telecare pilots and the evidence-base on telehealth and telecare.

Recent publications include: 

  • an update on telecare users and expenditure
  • PCT weblinks for telehealth and the telehealth Google map
  • Evaluating telecare and telehealth interventions

The Kings Fund website is at: http://www.wsdactionnetwork.org.uk/

A blog on the King’s Fund website looks at how local authorities and the new GP commissioners can be convinced of the need to invest in telehealth and telecare. Find out more: http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/the_future_of.html

 

4.         Accessibility

  • Writing in Computer Weekly, Robin Christopherson -head of digital inclusion at accessibility charity AbilityNet – talks about his love affair for Apple and how , in some cases mainstream technology is replacing specialist devices designed specifically for disabled users.

He cites Apple’s mobile operating system, which features screen reading – the VoiceOver function – and magnification, or Zoom. Noting: “As the first gesture-based screen reader, VoiceOver merely requires the user to touch the screen to hear a description of the item under their finger, then double-tap, drag, or flick to action a command. VoiceOver also features an innovative virtual control called a rotor. Turning the rotor – by rotating two fingers on the screen as if you were turning an actual dial – changes the way VoiceOver moves through a document or a web page based on a setting you choose. For example, a flick up or down might move through text word by word, by header, link or image.

It is also easy for a blind user to memorise the layout of screens and commonly-used applications. A quick tap confirms you have hit the right control and then a double-tap activates it. It really is almost as if you could see the screen.”

He later adds that “an iPhone can do as much as a specialist talking portable computer developed for blind users that costs between £1,000 and £2,000, and much, much more besides. With the addition of free navigation software an iOS device can replace bespoke talking GPS devices that are priced at around £750. Similarly, with the addition of an app costing a few pounds, they can replace a specialist communication device for those with a speech impairment; Proloquo2Go retails for around £100 and can transform an iPad into a fully functioning communication solution previously costing a prohibitive £2,000.”

“People who find the touch-screen difficult due to a physical impairment are not excluded either. The iOS devices also have in-built connectivity via Bluetooth or a cable dock to allow peripherals such as an external keyboard to be used. There is also free voice-recognition software to enable you to dictate your documents and e-mails. This way the blind touch-typist can have the best of both worlds and use an iPad or iPod Touch much as they would a laptop.”

The article is also available in Third Sector magazine: http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/news/Article/1060183/technologies-I-use-support-people-impaired-vision/

 

5.         Mobile

  • Richard Cappin of DialToSave.co.uk, one of the UK’s first-ever mobile phone price comparison websites, recently published a report which states that smartphone users are set to rocket from 20 million to 50 million by 2015.  As a result, he has argued that the mobile phone industry is missing out on a “multi-million pound market” by ignoring the needs of users who are over the age of 55. This group is now the second-fastest growing Internet user group and 45-64 year olds are now the second largest group of mobile phone users.

 

  • Cappin said, “Mobile companies need to look to Silver Surfers for inspiration and ideas because their needs are being ignored. Smartphones are mainly targeted at tech-savvy youngsters and despite growing interest from older people they are often perplexed by jargon like Android, Symbian and 3G HSDPA.”

See the press release here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/03/prweb5127504.htm

 

6.         Older People

 

  • A report by the Centre for Policy on Ageing gives examples of councils investing in low-level support and practical assistance to help older people maintain their health, well-being, social engagement and independence. Services highlighted include telecare, handyperson schemes, housing adaptations, falls prevention, home safety checks, and information projects.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation commissioned the report, which is available at: http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/local-authorities-better-outcomes-older-people

 

  • According to the Alzheimer’s Society, in 2021 over half a million people will be living with dementia that has gone undiagnosed. Dorset has the lowest rates of diagnosis with only a quarter (26%) of people really knowing they have dementia. In contrast, two thirds (69%) of people living in Belfast with dementia have had a diagnosis.

 See: http://www.alzheimers-tesco.org.uk/news/56_over_half_a_million_people_will_have_undiagnosed_dementia_in_2021

 

  • Stephanie Flanders, the BBC’s economics editor, looks at the rise of the older worker, noting that “at the end of 2010 there were 870,000 people over 65 in formal employment in the UK. That number has more than doubled since 2001. This age group now makes up 3% of the workforce, up from 1.5% in 2001.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/stephanieflanders/2011/03/older_workers_make_their_mark.html

Her article was in response to new data from the ONS on ‘Older people in the labour market’:  http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=2648