Damian Radcliffe

Posts Tagged ‘access’

Belated summer round up: stories and issues relating to older and disabled people

In Monthly round up: Older People and Disability issues on November 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

1.      Whitehall

·     Jeremy Moore has been appointed as the new Director of Independent Living and the Office for Disability Issues (ODI). Jeremy’s remit will encompass all disability issues, including employment, rights, benefits and ODI, reflecting a more joined-up approach across Government.

See: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/2011/jul-2011/dwp084-11.shtml   

2.        Smartphones

·     Cross Research claim Apple’s Siri voice-recognition technology, which is available on its new iPhone 4S, could prove a landmark in consumer technology. Analyst Shannon Cross said: “We believe the use of natural language and potentially the ability to distinguish between voices could one day change the way we interact with electronic devices and provide a substantial technology advantage to Apple. Quite simply, we have not seen a demonstration of comparable AI in any other consumer system.”

More: http://allthingsd.com/20111010/siri-game-changer-not-gimmick/?reflink=ATD_mktw_quotes

·     A new iPhone app enables wheelchair users to access the Internet through their wheelchair controls. Dynamic Control’s iPortal is designed to allow powerchair users to surf the internet, make phone calls, access social networking sites, play music, send text messages and emails, take photos, read ebooks and also use the speech assistance functions, all without needing to touch the device. There is more about the iPortal here: http://www.dynamiccontrols.com/iportal/ and a report by Medtech Business is here: http://www.medtechbusiness.com/news/2011/09/From-wheelchair-to-Web 

 

·     NHS Bristol is rolling out a new telehealth service for patients with long-term conditions. The primary care trust has signed a £1.4 million contract with technology company Safe Patient Systems, which will see 600 patients with either chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or heart failure issued with smartphones loaded with a health application.

See the report by E-Health Inside: http://www.ehi.co.uk/news/EHI/7034/nhs-bristol-uses-phones-for-telehealth

 

·     Trials have been successfully run of a prototype open source live document translation system that allows users to transfer files between devices while simultaneously converting them into more accessible formats including audio versions and larger text sizes. ‘MyDocStore’ uses cloud computing to allow people to convert files easily, including to mobile devices such as smartphones.

See: http://www.jisctechdis.ac.uk/techdis/news/detail/2011/SBRI_result

 

3.        Health

·      A non-emergency telephone number for NHS services is to launch across England. The 111 number, which has been tested in four areas, will be available nationally by April 2013.The service will replace NHS Direct, which the government announced it was scrapping last year and will give health advice and information about services such as out-of-hours GPs, walk-in centres, emergency dentists and pharmacies.

More at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15138597?dm_i=4X7,K44V,3EI9TZ,1MVOH,1. 

 

·      In an article in the Daily Telegraph, the medical director of the NHS says that patients will routinely be able to consult with doctors over the internet from their own homes within ‘a year rather than a decade’, and that telehealth services will be useful for those who need to see a specialist about a chronic condition such as diabetes, or people with visible conditions like skin complaints.

Read the article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/8623517/Doctors-to-see-patients-by-video-link.html?dm_i=4X7,GY6S,3EI9TZ,1DSRY,1

4.        Disability

 

·      The Employers’ Forum on Disability has launched the new Disability Standard, an online management and benchmark tool which enables business to measure and improve on performance for disabled customers, clients or service users, employees and stakeholders. EFD has piloted the new standard with 19 organisations from across the private and public sector. The evaluation process will run until June 2012, with the Disability Standard Awards taking place in late 2012.

More details at: http://www.thiis.co.uk/news-snippets/new-disability-standard-sept11.aspx and  via : http://www.efd.org.uk/

 

·      The first ‘Try before you buy’ centre has opened at Disability Action’s Headquarters in Belfast. The centre will showcase products, specifically designed for people with disabilities, and is part of a network of more than 200 centres across the UK offering people of all age groups the chance to try out products designed to suit their own individual requirements. It is a partnership between the charity and BT. Visitors will benefit from the expertise of professionals and volunteers who work in the centre and in return BT gathers feedback on what works well and what doesn’t.

More: www.btplc.com/inclusion/TrybeforeYouBuy .

 

 

5.        Subtitles

·      People who are deaf or hard of hearing complain that going to watch a film can be an unsatisfactory experience, with subtitled films on at unsociable times and often suffering from technical problems. A BBC News item (NB: it’s video) about the development of special glasses which allow the wearer to see subtitles directly in front of their eyes is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14654339 

6.        Video Relay

·           BT is piloting BSL access via video relay for its own Deaf customers who prefer to communicate with them in British Sign Language.  BT will start the pilot in November, subject to internal testing, and it will run for 6 months in order to demonstrate that the service works for our customers.  The facility will link to the SignVideo telephone interpreting service.

7.        Digital Inclusion

·     The Guardian reported on an initiative which sees schoolchildren being recruited in care homes to make sure that older people are not left behind in the digital age.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/sep/20/adopt-a-care-home-internet-older-people?INTCMP=SRCH

 

·     They also provided a list of “The 10 best apps for Older People”: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/joepublic/2011/sep/21/apps-for-older-people

 

·     Organisations from across the voluntary, private and public sectors have formed the Age Action Alliance, with the aim of working which will work together to improve the lives of older people and help transform communities into a better place to grow older. It will tackle several issues relevant to older people, including public health and active lifestyles, safe warm homes, improving the lives of excluded groups, combating loneliness and isolation, working on age-friendly neighbourhoods, promoting digital inclusion and new attitudes to ageing. 

Visit: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/2011/sep-2011/dwp113-11.shtml

 

8.        Web Accessibility

·     The RNIB is set to conduct its largest ever manual website accessibility testing exercise later this year, when it will check all 433 UK local authority sites against a specially-devised set of criteria.

 

The project will form the charity’s latest contribution to the annual ‘Better Connected’ review of UK council websites conducted by the public sector Society of IT Management (Socitm).

 

In previous years RNIB has run initial automated accessibility tests on all the sites, only carrying out more detailed manual assessment on those passing a certain threshold. This year, however, it will carry out manual checks on all sites based on attempts to perform three practical tasks on each such as paying council tax or renewing a library book online. A few other random top level pages will also be checked.

 

‘Better Connected’ reviews are carried out in November and December, with all results including accessibility test results due to be published at the end of February 2012.

 

·     The WebAIM site (Web Accessibility in Mind) has a wide range of articles on web accessibility, including user reviews of assistive technology products and tips for ways to improve website navigation for people with both cognitive and physical disabilities. The resources are maintained by the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University: http://webaim.org/about

 

·     Betagov Standard: The forthcoming ‘beta’ version of the new digital platform for UK government services – due to launch in January 2012 – is to be one of the first major websites to be designed in compliance with the British Standard BS8878 Web Accessibility Code of Practice, the project’s accessibility consultant Léonie Watson has revealed. The site’s developers will be documenting all accessibility-related decisions taken throughout the lifecycle of the beta site, as well as carrying out extensive user testing and consulting with various disability organisations, Watson told E- Access Bulletin’s sister publication E-Government Bulletin.

 

9.        Other

·     The Royal National Institute of Blind People has launched a campaign to get Britain’s banks to enable their cash machines to talk and has published a report on this issue.

More details here: http://www.rnib.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/yourmoney/cashmachine/Pages/cash-machine-campaign.aspx

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.