Damian Radcliffe

Posts Tagged ‘assistive technology’

July 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 July 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm

1.         Apps

  • A series of smartphone apps to let disabled people contact shops, petrol stations and other locations to let them know their access needs before they arrive is being developed by Sunderland-based social enterprise DisabledAccess4All ( http://www.access4allapps.com ).

The ‘Customer Assist’ app will let users request assistance both en route and after arrival. When the user arrives, the shop, service or petrol station will have received information about the assistance he or she requires so they can have an attendant ready to help.

The app will also offer directions to accessible services, and a separate ‘Parking Space Finder’ app is being developed to work with local authorities to offer people directions to the nearest blue badge parking spaces. The parking app is due to go live for testing in October, with Westminster and Sunderland councils signed up to take part.

2.         Social Media

  • The Telegraph reported that super-injunction leaks on Twitter have driven over-50s to the site; noting: “Twitter’s UK audience jumped by a third in May 2011 following the super-injunction leaks about Ryan Giggs, which drove a huge number of female pensioners to the site, according to new data.”

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/8600542/Super-injunction-leaks-drive-over-50s-to-Twitter.html

 

3.         Tablets

  • Jakob Nielsen has written a report on iPad usability. It’s the second such report from Nielsen Norman Group and it features in-depth analysis about how people are using iPads.

The iPad report, co-authored by Raluca Budiu and Jakob Nielsen, is a hefty 129 pages and available for free download. The report tested 26 iPad apps and six websites. The testers in this study were required to have at least two months experience using iPads.

There has been “good uptake of several of our recommendations from last year,” claims the report – such as apps implementing back buttons, broader use of search, homepages and direct access to articles by touching headlines on the front page.

The report reiterates a common understanding about the iPad, that it’s mostly for media consumption. Email is “the only slight exception to the rule.” Specifically, the Nielsen participants reported using their iPads for games, checking email and social network sites, watching movies and videos, and reading news.

The study tested a few tasks that were performed both on the Web (meaning via a Web browser on the iPad) and using an application. The report concludes that “our participants were always successful on the Web [but] a third of the corresponding tasks that involved apps ended in failure.” The report gives two reasons for this:

  1. The apps contained less content than the websites.
  2. The app design was confusing or the app made the user work more.

There’s also some useful analysis of how iPad usage differs from the computer. E.g.:

“From our testing of news and magazine apps, it turns out that most users read just a few articles per session, and spend most of their time scanning headlines and summaries for something of interest. That’s why it’s important to support the browsing activity better by giving it extra space, especially if there are a lot of news stories to go through.”

 

4.         Digital Switchover

  • Digital UK have published their annual report for the year to 31 March 2011.

Last year, 2.5 million homes across the UK went through switchover, with nearly 11 million homes due to complete switchover in 2011. DUK noted: “This would not have been possible without the support of our partners, including the many charities and community groups which provided practical help and advice.”  Read more about their work and watch a video here.

5.         Disability

  • The Guardian asked “Why can so few programmes document disability without grotesque fascination or patronising sentimentality?” in this article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2011/jul/01/born-to-be-different

Extract:

“Last week, Born to be Different – Channel 4’s long-running biopic chronicling the lives of six disabled children – drew to a close having achieved television’s trickiest feat: documenting disability without grotesque fascination or patronising sentimentality. In a disaster-laden genre, it’s a success few others can claim.

When depicting disability, mainstream broadcasters give us the good but they give us the bad and the ugly – and in the case of Bodyshock or Extraordinary People, do so while calling them exactly that. The modern day freak show, these ratings hits mix deformity, disability and obesity into a one-size-fits-all hatchet job of ignorance. Products of the school of literal titles, new specials such as It’s Not Easy Being a Wolf Boy, The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off, and The Girls with Too Much Skin, emerge yearly. The damage, though, is actually diminished by the total lack of subtlety, their almost impressively brazen lack of attempt to be doing anything remotely worthy.”

 

  • Channel 4 has launched a search for talented disabled production staff. Paid placements of up to 12 months, are being offered in sport, drama, factual and factual entertainment programming.  Applications closed on Monday 6 June 2011.

Visit the Channel 4 website for more information:

http://4talent.channel4.com/extra/production-trainee-scheme-2011-disabled-people

6.         Assistive Technology

  • The Alzheimer’s Society has published a position paper on assistive technology for people with dementia, based on a literature review and a seminar of stakeholders. The paper provides an introduction to AT (low-tech and high-tech), discusses how AT can enable better care and help carers, considers how people with dementia in the UK could have better access to AT, looks at future developments and government policies in this area, and makes recommendations to address the practical and ethical issues raised. The report is here.
  • The AT Dementia website brings together information about assistive technology and other products that can help support the independence and leisure opportunities of people with dementia. The website is here
  • A free booklet, ‘Getting Equipped to Tackle Forgetfulness’, is available to download from FAST via this link
  • The ‘AT guide’, a self-help guide to how technology can help you to live well with dementia published by the Disabled Living Foundation, is here.
  • The Thomas Pocklington Trust has published a paper on telebefriending schemes for people with sight loss which is available here

 

7.         Social Care

  • The Law Commission has published proposals for the ‘most far-reaching reforms of adult social care law seen for over 60 years’. A single statute would replace current legislation, so that service users and carers would be clear about their rights and councils would be clear about their responsibilities.

The new statute would establish that the ‘overarching purpose of adult social care is to promote or contribute to the well-being of the individual’ based on the ‘individual’s views, wishes and feelings’. Other recommendations include: giving carers new legal rights to services; placing duties on councils and the NHS to work together; building a single, streamlined assessment and eligibility framework; and placing Safeguarding Adult Boards on a statutory footing. 

  • According to Age UK, 800,000 people who currently need care receive no formal support from either the state or private sector agencies. The charity’s report is here.
  • Spending on long-term care in OECD countries is set to double, even triple, by 2050, driven by ageing populations. Governments need to make their long-term care policies more affordable and provide better support for family careers and professionals, according to a report from the international economic organisation, which is here.
  • A BBC survey of 76% of councils in England research suggests a North-South divide in spending on adult social care. Spending will fall by an estimated 4.7% to £3.4 billion in the North in 2011/12 and rise by 2.7% to £3.33 billion in the South. More here.

8.         Older People

  • UK Older People’s Day is on 1 October. The theme for 2011 is staying active in later life. More information, including resources to support local events are available via this link

9.         Third Sector

  • The government has published the ‘Giving White Paper’ to encourage charitable giving and volunteering. Commitments include:
  1. a £30 million fund to improve the effectiveness of infrastructure organisations that support front line organisations;
  2. £700,000 to support Philanthropy UK connecting wealthy people with charities that need their support;
  3. trial charity promotions on the public service website Directgov.
  • The banks have also agreed to enable giving through all their cash machines in 2012. The white paper is here.

 

  • 2011 is RNID’s centenary year. On their 100th birthday on 9th June, RNID changed their name to Action on Hearing Loss to better reflect what they do and the hearing check is an important element of their activity.  Around 4 million people who experience hearing loss could benefit from hearing aids but it takes, on average, 10 years for someone to do something about their hearing loss.  
  • The Media Trust have announced a recent package of funding which will enable the Community Channel to continue to broadcast for another couple of years at least, and will enable them to re-launch Community Newswire, the charity news distribution service run in partnership with the Press Association.

The funding will also enable us to support a network of community-led news hubs and citizen journalists across the UK, supported by our media industry mentors, and Media Trust’s wider package of training and online advice, mentors and story-telling.

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.