Damian Radcliffe

Posts Tagged ‘accessibility’

June 11: 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 June 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm

1.         Third Sector

  • A free BT web kit offers charities and community groups a free service to raise their profile. More than 3,500 websites in the UK have been built on the BT Community Web Kit service so far. The kit’s website service provides free website hosting as well as a free website address. Users can also choose layouts and design while uploading images and pictures to make each website unique with a professional look and feel.

 

Find out more:  www.btck.co.uk

2.         Smartphones / Apps

  • A smartphone application which transcribes audio museum tours into captions and sign language has been released.  Developed by the Australian Communication Exchange, the Smart Auslan service can be downloaded to a personal smartphone or accessed through museum-owned phones across Australia. The user scans a ‘Quick Response code’ on each exhibit which prompts the phone to display the relevant captions and sign language video:

Find out more: http://bit.ly/iiFNl4

3.         Services for Older People

  • Linda Natansohn, COO of eons.com, a US social networking site aimed at baby boomers, admitted the site is struggling to persuade the advertising industry that it offers access to an appealing demographic, but insisted: “This group has two trillion dollars in disposable income, and they are very web savvy.”

Read more: http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/making-sense-of-news/112370/seniors-increasingly-read-news-online-use-social-media-to-stay-connected/

  • In May, a plan to establish a new public service video-on-demand digital web TV channel which will focus on, and broadcast topical news and information relevant and of particular interest to, everyone aged 50 and over was announced.  Entitled BeetrootTV – you might like to see the Beetroot TV Briefing Note and Beetroot TV Q&A.  And the ‘taster’ web-site can be found at http://www.BeetrootTV.org

Beetroot TV is being developed by Sheena McDonald and Simon Gallimore in collaboration with Independent Age, enabled by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

 
     

4.         Telecare and Telehealth

  • The Guardian suggests Scotland is ahead of England in its approach to implementing telecare and telehealth technologies. Dr James Ferguson, the lead clinician at the Scottish Centre for Telehealth, argues that because patients in Scotland are often a long way from clinicians, there has been a drive to include remote monitoring and support as an integral part of care packages.

Read the article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/healthcare-network/2011/apr/13/scotland-teach-england-telehealth-james-ferguson

  • A survey of 200 patients using telehealth in North Yorkshire showed that patients with long term conditions prefer to be monitored from home. 96% of those currently using telehealth would recommend the technology to others.

http://www.nyytelehealth.co.uk/news/ninety_six_percent_of_north_yorkshire_patients_would_recommend_telehealth/

5.         Disability

  • A new government report argues that the 2012 Paralympic Games should transform perceptions of disabled people. The report also argues that London 2012 is already delivering improvements to the lives of people with disabilities, including offering jobs, training, sport opportunities and an uplift in awareness across the UK.

 Read the report here:  http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/news_stories/8058.aspx

  • Disabled People’s User-led Organisations have been given access to a new £3million initiative announced by the Minister for Disabled People, which includes a Facilitation Fund allowing these bodies to bid for small amounts of money for specific projects to improve their overall sustainability.

Read more: http://odi.dwp.gov.uk/odi-projects/user-led-organisations.php

6.         Web

  • A report by Gartner claimed that “digital media will cannibalise print media” after a study of consumers across six countries, including the UK and US, found more than half of tablet users preferred reading text on screens to print, with older demographics expressing the most attachment to paper products.

See: http://www.techeye.net/business/paper-screwed-up-in-favour-of-digital-readers

  • DCMS has published a set of 10 principles for inclusive web design to highlight the importance of building websites that can be used by as wide a range of people as possible.

The principles were written by Sandi Wassmer, managing director of web design company Copious and can be viewed on the DCMS site: http://bit.ly/mfx9ax

The ten principles are broken down into keywords such as equitable; flexible; straightforward; and perceptible, each followed by a brief explanatory statement to give guidance on how the term relates to inclusive website design.

  • Google and FutureGov  are holding a hack event later this month focussed on making the web accessible to older generations: http://goo.gl/7Gf8e

7.         TV / Advertising

  • A Wall Street Journal report on the US TV industry said networks are adjusting their pitch to advertisers as average audiences age, arguing the current generation of baby-boomers is fundamentally different from earlier generations who wound down their spending after the age of 55.

CBS chief research officer David Poltrack said: “Rather than saying a 22-year-old is more valuable than a 58-year-old, we’re saying, ‘Look, the fact is an affluent 58-year-old is certainly more valuable than a 22-year-old who is just getting by.”

See: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703559604576174983272665032.html

8.         Consumer

  • The Guardian has an article on the costs of calling 118 directory enquiry services. [Our] “research shows that being connected to a number via a 118 service can cost in excess of £10 for five minutes from a mobile. Calling directory enquiries from a mobile can cost more than £2, while a typical 45-second 118 call costs an average of £1.75 from a landline, research shows.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/may/16/warning-118-directory-enquiries-charges

9.         Innovation, Ageing and Healthcare

  • Slides, and a short contextual blog post, from Simon Roberts based on his talk (in February) to Imperial Business School.

Visit: http://bit.ly/f8KvzN

 

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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 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.

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

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 February 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm

1.         20% of people in the UK today to become Centurions (or at least live to 100)

Nearly a fifth of people living in the UK today are expected to celebrate their 100th birthday, according to government projections released recently. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said its figures suggested 10 million people – 17% of the population – would become centenarians.

These are based on Office for National Statistics population projections and life expectancy estimates.

Pensions Minister Steve Webb said the “staggering” figures brought home the need for pension reforms. “Many millions of us will be spending around a third of our lives or more in retirement in the future,” he said, adding the government was determined to reform the pensions system to make it “sustainable for the long-term”.

The DWP estimates there will be at least 507,000 people aged 100 or over by 2066, including 7,700 people aged 110 or over, so-called super centenarians.

Currently 11,800 people in the UK are aged 100 or over and fewer than 100 are over 110.

The government figures suggest that of the more than 10m who will go on to reach 100, 3m are currently aged under 16, 5.5m are aged between 16 and 50, and 1.3m are aged between 51 and 65. About 875,000 are already aged over 65.

See some charts showing this here: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/2010/dec-2010/dwp186-10-301210.shtml

 

2.         End of the default retirement age

The Government has indicated an end to the default retirement age (DRA), following the consultation launched by the Coalition last July.

Ministers have decided to proceed with their plan to phase out the DRA between 6 April and 1 October this year to both reflect the changing UK demographic and enable more choice for workers as to when they want to retire.

As well as benefiting individuals – the Government argues – the freedom to work for longer will provide a boost to the UK economy in the face of an ageing population.

 

3.         Older People on Television

Not surprisingly, lots of coverage in the past month about the successful ageism case former Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly brought against the BBC.

Former Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly, who won a landmark age discrimination case against the BBC, told the Sunday Telegraph she felt she had been “erased” from the Corporation. She said: “I found out through a press release that it was only the women who were going. It was like I’d never worked on the programme. I felt very hurt by it. I was very sad. I knew Jay Hunt [former BBC One controller] wanted to refresh the programme but I became angry when I realised it was only the women who were being ‘refreshed’.” She added: “I hope other women will take a similar stand. I think the BBC should be very worried.”

A recent edition of the Guardian’s weekly Media Talk podcast has a good summary of the case and its implications, you can listen to it online at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/audio/2011/jan/13/media-talk-podcast-countryfile-miriam-oreilly-arizona-shootings

Meanwhile, a number of other broadcasters commented on the case, see:

 

Whilst the Daily Mail has an extended interview with Miriam: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1347627/Countryfiles-Miriam-OReilly-says-theres-offensive-wrinkles.html   

Writing in The Times, Patrick Foster, notes that one study found last year that only 20 per cent of presenters and actors on BBC One were over 50, compared with 34 per cent of the population.

Most recently, the Guardian ran a feature entitled: “Who are you calling past it?” which features interviews with Joan Bakewell (77), Jennie Bond (60), and others on their experiences as women working in the media: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/05/older-women-tv-radio-miriam-oreilly

Whilst The Sunday Times reported the BBC’s ratings-winning consumer show Rip Off Britain has given presenters Gloria Hunniford, Angela Rippon and Jennie Bond the chance to ‘defy the Corporation’s obsession with youth’ amid recent controversy surrounding the employment of older women. All of the presenters are in their sixties and seventies.

Rippon commented: “It shows that you should never underestimate your audience. They really do not care about the age or sex of the presenters. They just care about what they like. The public is more discerning than television executives over who they want to watch.”

 

4.         BBC Director-General to chair Cultural Diversity Network

Mark Thompson, the BBC Director-General becomes Chair of the Cultural Diversity Network (CDN) for a period of two years. He takes over from Channel 4’s Chief Executive David Abraham.  As Chair, Mark Thompson will lead an association of Britain’s leading broadcasters and independent production companies to improve diversity in the television industry – both on screen and behind the camera.

The CDN is an association of Britain’s leading broadcasters and independent production companies, originally formed in 2000, to improve the representation of ethnic minorities in television both on screen and behind the camera. It focuses on working with its member broadcasters on sharing expertise, resources and models of good practice.

As members of the CDN, programme makers and commissioners are encouraged to think about ethnic minority representation, disability, sexual orientation, age, gender and social background when casting or recruiting.

Diversity Pledge

The CDN introduced a Diversity Pledge in 2009 – a public commitment by independent production companies, in-house producers and their suppliers to take measurable steps to improve diversity in the television industry.

The pledge is split into four sections covering different aspects of diversity with practical suggestions on how to improve representation. The approach is flexible – it’s up to individual companies to set their own agenda.

The four aspects are:

1. Recruiting fairly and from as wide a base as possible and encouraging industry entrants and production staff from diverse backgrounds.
2. Encouraging diversity in output.
3. Encouraging diversity at senior decision-making levels.
4. Taking part in, or running, events that promote diversity.

 

5.         Digital Inclusion

“We don’t have a computer. Are we missing out?”

This was the question posed by two older Guardian readers recently. The responses from the public don’t say anything you probably don’t already know, but it ‘s good to hear readers outline the arguments for – and against – rather than simply people who work in this field.

Read the comments here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/blog/2011/jan/28/do-we-need-a-computer

 

6.         ‘Life Opportunities Survey’

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published interim results from the ‘Life Opportunities Survey’ (LOS), the first major longitudinal survey in Great Britain to apply the social model and explore disability in terms of social barriers to participation, rather than in terms of impairments or health conditions.

The LOS compares the experiences of people with and without impairments across a range of different areas. Barriers identified include ‘discrimination; the attitudes of other people; inaccessible buildings, public transport and information; as well as lack of support, equipment and adjustments’.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 29% of adults had an impairment
  • 26% of adults were disabled as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
  • 56% of adults with impairments experienced restrictions in the type or amount of paid work they did, compared with 26% adults without impairments (equipment was identified by disabled people as an enabler in employment)
  • 74% of adults with impairments experienced restrictions in using transport, compared with 58% without impairments
  • 12% of adults with impairments experienced a participation restriction in housing (accessing rooms within their home or getting in or out of their home), compared with 1% without impairments, with common barriers in both cases including ‘stairs, lack of ramps/stair lift’
  • 29% of adults with impairments experienced a participation restriction to accessing buildings outside their home, compared with 7% without impairments

 

The survey was commissioned by the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) alongside two qualitative research reports. The research and factsheets summarising the findings are here.

 

7.         Disability Hate Crime

Almost half of all disabled people are affected by disability hate crime. However, only 1,200 cases were prosecuted in the three years to March 2010. To counter this, Radar, the Royal Association for Disability Rights, is working to improve the reporting and recording of disability hate crime by:

– mapping disability hate crime third party reporting sites that already exist or are being set up

– exploring disabled people’s experiences of reporting disability hate crime.

Get involved now by visiting the Radar or ODI website: http://www.odi.gov.uk/about-the-odi/odi-news.php#radar

 

8.         Wayfinding Technology

The installation of digital ‘wayfinding’ technologies to help blind people find their way around railways stations and other public spaces might not be cost-effective for five years or more, according to Dr John Gill, a consultant and former RNIB chief scientist.

His comments follow the publication of a report on “Evaluating wayfinding systems for blind and partially sighted customers at stations” has been published by the Rail Safety and Standards Board and is at http://www.rssb.co.uk/sitecollectiondocuments/pdf/reports/research/T881_rpt_final.pdf  with the  appendices at http://www.rssb.co.uk/sitecollectiondocuments/pdf/reports/research/T881_apps_final.pdf

The research found that there are a significant number of existing or potential rail passengers who are blind or visually impaired. Improvements to the network are being undertaken by several parties within the GB rail industry to provide benefits to passengers with a range of specific needs, building on the considerable investment in recent years in systems such as real time audio and visual information and provision or improvement of step free access to stations.

This work has included a pilot deployment of the RNIB React system in Scotland, RNIB ‘React’ is a talking sign system whereby audio messages are triggered by users carrying a special trigger fob when they approach. Whilst demonstrating some benefits of the React system, there were problems with planning, implementing and maintaining the React system cost-effectively: current estimated costs for implementing such a system across the entire UK rail network are between £250 million and £500 million.

Given this size of cost, “only those systems which provide some benefits to the wider rail-travelling community (as opposed to only the visually-impaired) look likely to be even worth considering”, the report says. In the meantime, the provision of extra staff to assist people with disabilities might be more cost-effective, as such staff would also be able to undertake other tasks, it says.

Dr Gill, who contributed to the report on the potential benefits of future technologies in this field such as radio frequency tags (RFID), smartcards and satellite location systems, said in time cheaper technologies could be developed combining positioning systems with live train information accessed over the web.

These alternative technologies include:

  • Infra-red
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
  • Bar codes
  • Wireless (including Bluetooth and React)

 

“The problems with implementing systems like React were not just related to technology but maintenance”, he said.  “You need systems to see if it is working reliably. If there is a talking sign on the end of a platform saying don’t walk any further, and it’s not working, is actually creating a safety hazard. Any system has got to work 99.9% of time, so you can rely on it.”

The decision on when to make investments in wayfinding technologies is ultimately a political one, Dr Gill said. “It’s a matter of who is going to pay, and who else is going to benefit.

The rate of change of technology and economics is so fast that one hesitates to predict exactly when it will work out.”

Quotes from: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=530

 

9.         Europe

A proposal for a ‘European Accessibility Act’, which will include accessibility measures on ICT and websites, will be put forward during 2012. The act, part of actions following on from a wider European Disability Strategy ( http://bit.ly/fDCRlP ) unveiled last year, will be based on an upcoming commission study of accessibility barriers for disabled citizens across Europe. The study will cover access to public services, public buildings and transport, as well as other areas.

The act will set out contain common standards to help regulate accessible design in a number of areas including ICT, the built environment and product design.

 

 10.      Next phase of superfast broadband plans announced

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has outlined government plans for ‘the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015’, working in partnership with the private sector, councils and communities. To reduce the ‘digital divide’, all parts of the UK will be covered, with government funding for areas that the market cannot reach. A ‘world class communications network’ is seen as fundamental for economic growth and for more efficient and accessible public services.

Plans include:

  • a mix of technologies –fixed, wireless and satellite – to deliver superfast broadband
  • developing the next generation of mobile broadband services, based on new wireless technologies
  • a Publicly Available Specification for new build homes to give developers and builders a steer as to what connectivity homes should contain

 

Recognising the need to ‘ensure that consumers are comfortable with technology and that those currently excluded from the digital world, for whatever reason, are able to join it and reap the benefits’, the strategy refers to Martha Lane Fox’s Race Online initiative (details here).

There are also references to tele-working for disabled people and to the Whole System Demonstrator programme. The press release is here.

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is the delivery vehicle for these policies. To find out via this link.