Damian Radcliffe

Posts Tagged ‘disability’

December 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 December 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm
 

1.         Smartphones

  • The Department of Health has reported around 500 responses to its ‘Maps and App’s project to create new smartphone and tablet applications in the healthcare arena. The department has received thousands of comments and votes on the various apps, with one of the most popular being ‘Me, Myself & I’ , an independent self-assessment tool which identifies health and social needs via innovative game play. More here.
  • The Telegraph reported that smartphone adoption is rocketing among young adults and those aged 55-64. Data from Nielsen shows that smartphone penetration among users who are around retirement age jumped by five per cent in the last three months alone. That rate of increase is outstripped only by those aged 18-24. It should be noted however that older people are still only likely to have a modern mobile phone in three out of every ten cases. Nearly two-thirds of those aged 25-34, by contrast, own a smartphone.

On the Nielsen blog, the company wrote that “while only 43 per cent of all US mobile phone subscribers own a smartphone, the vast majority of those under the age of 44 now have smartphones”.

  • High levels of assistance for disabled customers are being pioneered by the new flagship store for mobile network operator O2 in central London. The shop offers in-store advice on the benefits that mobile devices such as smartphones and their applications, features and functions can provide for people with sensory impairments.

All staff have also received sight loss and deaf awareness training in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and consultancy Positive Signs, and the shop is also home to O2 “guru” Abigail who is deaf and fluent in BSL. Plans are in hand to provide further advice and services for people with motor and learning difficulties

See:  http://bit.ly/vvrCYj for more details (NB: the store is on Tottenham Court Road)

  • A smartphone app offering digital versions of shop loyalty cards will open up card schemes to many disabled people for the first time. The “mClub” app from print and digital directories company Yell – which is free to download –allows retailers to offer deals such as “buy nine cups of coffee, get the 10th free” without using a physical card. A pilot service – available for both the Apple iPhone (http://bit.ly/pDmUyC ) and Android phones ( http://bit.ly/rfB9u6 ) – has been launched in London, Plymouth and Reading, with a BlackBerry service due to be released in the next few weeks.

Although the service was not originally designed for use by disabled people Artur Ortega, senior accessibility developer at Yell, used its potential to influence the design process.

“Before, it wasn’t possible for blind people to use loyalty cards,” … “You couldn’t find the right card in your pocket, and you didn’t know how many stamps were on it. The app is also useful for someone who has reduced mobility in their hands and who might have problems getting a card out of their pocket or wallet.”

Running the app itself was not too hard for blind users, with iPhones coming pre-installed with VoiceOver text-to-speech functionality and Android phones able to run similar software such as the Mobile Accessibility suite from Code Factory. This kind of approach, combined with geo-location technology, is implemented in the new smartphone version of the company’s home page www.yell.com, can be hugely liberating for disabled people,

 “If I need a taxi, I can find one immediately and then call the taxi using the same device, I don’t have to copy telephone number – it’s two clicks away. Or I can order a table in a restaurant – it’s a huge advantage for blind people or people with reduced mobility…. Before, you had to call someone and ask them to put you through to the restaurant. If the line was busy you had to call again and ask them to look it all up again.” (Artur Ortega, via eAccess Bulletin)

2.         Subtitling

  • The Daily Express reported on Deaf viewers’ anger at BBC subtitle gaffes citing errors including calling Labour leader “Ed Miller Band” the Ireland rugby team described as “Island” and Dr Rowan Williams as the “arch bitch of Canterbury”.

The errors are so regular that viewers have set up a website listing all the mistakes. But groups representing the deaf said the problem had led to many complaints.

Emma Harrison, from Action on Hearing Loss, said: “Access to television is really important to people with a hearing loss. We urge all broadcasters to monitor the quality of their subtitling to ensure high standards, and invest in technology to reduce mistakes so people with hearing loss can access television in the same way as hearing people.”

The paper noted that “usually, pre-recorded subtitles are done before transmission and appear in time with a programme However, live subtitles are made by a stenographer typing words phonetically as they listen to a show, or with speech recognition, where someone talks into a microphone while listening to the broadcast, and a computer recognises their words. “

3.         Technology

  • Speakbook is an inexpensive, low-tech communication tool that allows someone to talk with a speaking partner using only their eyes. They claim it is easy to use and takes only seconds to learn. Speakbook was developed by Patrick Joyce, who has motor neuron disease, also known as MND or ALS. Patrick wanted to make his idea as cheap as possible, so speakbook.org is a not for profit organization, and anyone may download and print speakbook, for personal use, free of charge.  More information via this link.  

 

4.         Telehealth

  • A report from Audit Scotland says the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland should do more to consider telehealth when introducing or redesigning services. ‘A review of telehealth in Scotland’ looks at how the health service is providing care to patients at a distance, using a range of technologies such as mobile phones, the internet, digital televisions, video-conferencing and self-monitoring equipment. The report argued NHS boards must look at new ways of delivering care, particularly as the NHS is facing growing demand. It suggested telehealth has the potential to help deliver a range of clinical services more efficiently and effectively, and boards should be considering it when introducing or redesigning services.

Audit Scotland assessed the use of telehealth to monitor patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) at home. The report concluded that telehealth management of COPD patients at home might help NHS boards avoid costs of around £1,000 per patient per year, mostly through reducing admissions to hospital. The report is here and there is a BBC news item here

  • The King’s Fund has launched a dedicated area of its website for telecare and telehealth topics, which is here.
  • Computer Weekly magazine has published an article outlining the costs and benefits of implementing telecare services, which is available via this link.

 

5.         Older People

  • Interesting item on the ILC-UK Blog pages looking at older drivers and behavioural change: how ‘nudges’ can support the process of self-regulation. See: http://bit.ly/uRonzL

I know my stand has made a massive difference to women in broadcasting. You are seeing more older women on prime time, which is fantastic.

 I’d like to see more older women anchoring programmes, rather than just contributing to them, but hopefully that  will happen.

The BBC is changing. A friend heard a conversation in the loos there the other day, during which one producer said to the other: “Oh, are you going to this Miriam O’Reilly thing?” It turned out the BBC are running workshops to inform people about treating older people fairly and understanding ageism. So the message is  getting through.’

 

  • Ageing research consortium KT_EQUAL has launched a national photography competition which set out to challenge our preconceptions about how older people interact with technology now and in the future. Entitled ‘Left to Our Own Devices’, the contest is run in partnership with Age UK. Entries will be judged not only on their photographic merit but also on how they address issues related to the central theme of older people’s interactions with technology — perhaps by challenging stereotypes, defying expectations or delivering a powerful message. 

The most successful images will be selected from across four categories:  

    1. Gadgets and Gizmos
    2. In the Home
    3. Out and About
    4. An open category

All the selected images will be included in a touring exhibition that will visit the Parliament at Westminster and the Assemblies at Cardiff and Stormont, and finishing at the Scottish Parliament next spring, and one image in each category will also receive a cash prize of £250.

The closing date for entries is 31 January 2012 and there is more information here.

 

6.         Disability

  • Disability Alliance, the National Centre for Independent Living and Radar have agreed to unify to form ‘Disability Rights UK’. Following a year of discussions, the three charities will come together on 1 January 2012. Details here.

 

7.         Accessibility

  • ICT Access Barriers are ‘Common Across Europe’ according to early findings of a survey of policies in 30 nations (the EU countries, plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland). Problems encountered include creating accessible content; standards compliance; problems procuring accessible systems; and a lack of awareness and understanding. The project is run by the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education to raise awareness of the issues surrounding accessible information provision for lifelong learning.

“There are an estimated 80 million people in the EU with disabilities of varying sorts and to differing degrees, and as the age profile shifts, so too will the proportion with disabilities”, John Galloway, a consultant working on dissemination of i- access findings. “There is no one solution to the issue of ensuring that any information in an electronic format, whether a web-page, a text message, an on- screen document, or an information film, is available to all of them equally.”

“For each country, we need to find out – what policies do they have, and how do they put them into practice? What are the differences and similarities? The lessons learned from across Europe will be brought together for everyone to share, so this difficult issue can be addressed.”

Full details of the research and a report of a project conference co-hosted by the Danish Ministry of Education in Copenhagen this June are due to be published shortly, with the final project recommendations expected towards next summer.

 

8.         Digital Inclusion

  • The Nominet Trust has just launched their £250k Challenge to support projects that address the recommendations set out in their second State of the Art Review ‘The internet and an ageing population’. In particular, they are looking to invest in projects that work with older people (65+) and involve the internet and other technologies. The minimum level of funding is £1,000. Project outlines should be submitted by the 1 February 2012 and those shortlisted will be invited to submit a full application by 1 March 2012. Find out more here.   
  • In an interview with the Daily Telegraph Esther Rantzen argued: ‘Old folk need to get web-wise’.

Rantzen argued that community-minded neighbours could help to solve two real problems for elderly people: loneliness and lack of technological expertise. She recently wrote a piece about how lonely she is, as a widow of 10 years, and said that the article had had “an amazing response”.

“Perhaps there are older people living near you that you could identify. Why not bang on a door, or pick up a phone? What many people miss most is the chance for a chat and a cuppa, and all of that could lead to mentoring, or a friendship. Maybe you could help people to get online to do banking. What is they say – don’t bank on it? Well I say – let’s bank on it.”

The article also cited recent research from the Payments Council which shows that, “although the over 65s are savvier about energy efficiency grants and loft insulation that their younger counterparts, they do not use technology or switch brands often – meaning that they could be spending far more money than they need on basic utilities.

Over a third have not checked if they are on the best rate for their utility bills in the past year. Fewer than a third of current account holders over 65 use internet banking, while under a quarter bank by phone. Despite falling cheque usage, older people still rely on their chequebooks to send payments, and few use direct debits to clear regular debts, even though this can help them to avoid fees and penalties. “

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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.

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

 

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 March 12, 2011 at 7:18 pm

1.         Older People

  • I recently came across Eldy, (Seniors Computer Software for Elderly) a piece of free software that turns a standard PC into an easy-to-use computer for people that have never used a computer before (one user described it as the “Fisher Price Internet”). It provides a six buttons interface with email, internet, chat, videoconferencing, documents, pictures, skype and more.

 

 

  • Angela Rippon told the Daily Telegraph that former BBC director-general John Birt had suggested her career was over when she became 50. Rippon is adamant Birt would not have treated her male counterparts in a similar fashion.

 

  • A reportby David Sinclair of ILC-UK, for Age UK, considers the market potential of the older consumer and highlights how companies can make more of this population. It notes that Older people’s spending reached an estimated £97 billion in 2008 (65 plus)‚ around 15% of the overall household expenditure. Those aged 50 or over spent £276 billion in 2008‚ making up around 44% of the total family spending in the UK.Yet despite the size of the market, this report finds that for many, the private sector does not meet their needs. This is not just a story of poverty or a lack of income to buy products, but of a consumer marketplace which frequently fails to meet the needs of an ageing population. People of all income levels are consumers. For the poorest consumer, they often find that they pay more and get less back in return.Some older people are well served by the market. And in some cases older people get fantastic service from the private sector. Yet there are significant issues facing the older consumer. Many of the issues highlighted below have been documented in literature as far back as the 1960s. David argues that some of the failings outlined in this report are indicative of market failure.

 

2.         Equality

  • Disability Now reports on how two English councils were forced to abandon plans to charge for Blue Badge parking, following threats of action under equality legislation.

 

  • The European Union has formally concluded the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, becoming the first intergovernmental group to sign any human rights treaty. The UK has already ratified the Convention, find more information here.

 

  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published guides for public authorities on the new public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010, which comes into force on 6 April 2011. They are available here.

 

3.         Telehealth

 

  • A new report from the NHS Confederation argues that an over-reliance on treatment delivered through face-to-face contact means the NHS ‘risks being stuck in the technological dark ages’. It notes that people increasingly expect to be able to manage parts of their healthcare remotely using modern communication technologies:

 

‘Progress has been made but health services have still struggled with new technologies as a combination of top down initiatives and a lack of engagement from clinicians and patients has meant new technologies such as telemedicine and telecare have failed to truly take off. In the future, government needs to support uptake of health technology in a sustained and systematic way without resorting to an overly prescriptive, centralised plan. Despite the huge funding pressures, NHS organisations should continue to make the case for new technologies as they will form the backbone for how we access many public services in the future. The key will be to address the cultural barriers that stop the uptake of new technologies’.

 The report called ‘Remote control: The patient-practitioner relationship in a digital age’, is available here.

 

4.         Digital Participation

  • Two new internet champions have been crowned in a BT-backed initiative to show millions of people over 65 the benefits of using the web.  Margaret Goodwin, 64, from Henley-on-Thames and David Howe, 70, from Devon, were announced Age UK internet champions for 2011 at London’s BT Tower.

More information: www.bt.com/getittogether  

  • A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 2% of US adults – six million people – have a disability that makes it difficult or impossible for them to use the internet. 54% of US adults with a disability (around 45 million people) reporting themselves as going online, compared with 81% of non-disabled adults.

 

The quality of internet speed and access were also shown to vary according to a person’s disability profile. “People living with disability, once they are online, are also less likely than other internet users to have high-speed access or wireless access. For example, 41% of adults living with a disability have broadband at home, compared with 69% of those without a disability”.

  • The Fix the Web project, which launched in November, already helped to solve problems with 26 sites using volunteers to contact website owners on behalf of disabled internet users who encounter access problems.

 

Users contact Fix the Web with complaints through the Fix the Web site, email, Twitter or a new toolbar, developed by the University of Southampton ( http://bit.ly/exuzAc ), and the volunteers then take up the complaints on their behalf, allowing people to report any problems.

Companies that have resolved issues flagged up by Fix the Web include several BBC sites, with work on tagging of images and resizing of text, the Coventry Building Society’s online banking services and Doodle (an online scheduling service), which is currently making its site more accessible to screen-readers.

  • The disability charity Scope has launched Meeting Point, an online forum for young disabled people.

 

5.         Technology

 

This report looks at the ramifications of the digital future and the ways in which society must adjust to the technological changes to come; saying:

‘Computer technologies are not neutral – they are laden with human, cultural and social values.  We need to define a new agenda for human-computer interaction in the 21st century – one that anticipates and shapes the impact of technology rather than simply reacts to it.’

 

  • The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) Accessible Media Player promises to offer “an inclusive online experience for disabled and non-disabled users, whether watching video or listening to a podcast. The player, which has been tested with people with a range of impairments, works particularly well for people with learning disabilities. It is the first online media player to pass the RNIB Surf Right accessibility audit and is available free to any government department or voluntary sector organisation.” Full details here.

 

  • Significan’t has introduced a real time captioning service called WebCapTel in which operators transcribe speech into text using voice recognition software and display it on the screens of desktop and mobile devices. A report on the service in Ability Magazine is here and there is more about WebCapTel and other SignVideo services from Significan’t here.

 

6.         Disability – attitudes

The ODI has published a report: ‘Public perceptions of disabled people’ – which looks at attitudes towards disabled people, and how attitudes have changed between 2005 and 2009.

Key Points:

  • Attitudes towards disabled people have improved since 2005; for example a smaller proportion of people said that they thought of disabled people as getting in the way (7% compared with 9% in 2005) or with discomfort and awkwardness (17% compared with 22% in 2005). People were also more likely to think of disabled people as the same as everybody else (85% compared with 77% in 2005).

 

  • There is, however, belief that prejudice towards disabled people is widespread. Almost 8 out of 10 respondents felt that there is either a lot or a little prejudice towards disabled people.

 

  • Whilst few people reported openly negative views, many respondents expressed views that suggest they see disabled people as less capable than non-disabled people. Respondents were least comfortable with people with learning disabilities or mental health conditions in situations where disabled people were in positions of authority, such as being a Member of Parliament or a boss at work. These scenarios were also amongst those that respondents found least comfortable in respect of people with physical or sensory impairments.

 

  • Nearly four in ten people thought of disabled people as less productive than non-disabled people and three quarters of people thought of disabled people as needing to be cared for some or most of the time. This suggests that a degree of ‘benevolent prejudice’ exists towards disabled people.

 

  • Almost 8 out of 10 people thought that most people would feel very or fairly uncomfortable if someone said something negative about disabled people either in the local shops, with their close friends or at work in front of their boss or colleagues.

 

  • There is no clear relationship between age and prejudice. In general it was people in the youngest (18 to 24) and oldest (65+) age groups who were least likely to be comfortable in interacting with disabled people.

 

7.         Extended Feature – Excellent piece on web habits of 55-75 age group from Brand Republic

(Published at: http://bit.ly/hGvEXw – or below, but without the graphs)

Generation 62.0: Digital planning for an aging population

Richard Morris, brandrepublic.com, 31 January 2011

Older people aren’t just going online to check their bank accounts; they’re also getting social and playing games, writes Richard Morris, deputy managing director at Carat.

This article looks into an under researched demographic – 55-74 year olds – to uncover what they think of the internet, how they use it and what this means for advertising. The data is provided by Carat’s Consumer Connection System (CCS), giving in depth and media actionable lifestyle, attitudinal and demographic insight.

Who are we looking at and how often do they access the internet?

  • 55-75 year olds make up 28% of the total UK population, which translates to 12,868,000 people
  • Of those, three quarters of 55-64 year olds and 55% of 65-75 year olds use the internet at least occasionally (5,306 million and 3,158 million users respectively)
  • Interestingly, although over half of the 55-75 age group are light users (under 15 hours per week,) a quarter can be considered to be ‘heavy users’ (30+ hours a week) and 45% medium users (15-30 hours per week).
  • 83% of 55-64s and 61% of 65-75s access the internet at least once a week on their home PC or laptop.

What are they doing online?

Regular online activities, at first glance, appear relatively functional – fitting in with established research into this age group’s internet usage.  

They aim to make life easier for themselves, with personal banking and emails being one of the most frequent activities, undertaken at least once a week, while 38% look for the best products by using online reviews, and the same amount look to get them as cheaply as possible with price comparison sites.

What may come as a surprise, however, is that CCS suggests a third of this group access social networks.

Forty seven percent use either Skype or instant messenger services to communicate, and a quarter stream films/TV at least 2-3 times a month.

In addition, just over a fifth enter competitions at least once a week, and almost two fifths use the internet to access the news online rather than watching it on the television.

Furthermore, we can look at affinity (how more or less likely a group are to behave in a certain way compared to others – in this case 55-75’s compared to the overall UK population, expressed via indexes) when exploring consumer behaviours, enabling the planner to make crucial distinctions between age groups. 

The sites which have the greatest affinity vary slightly with age; respondents in the 55-64 group are more likely to look at holiday sites such as Expedia compared to the 65-75s. Within both groups informative sites such as Ask, directgov.co.uk and the Microsoft site have fairly strong indexes, as well as newspaper websites such as the Telegraph and the Readers Digest.

Social networking

Social networking has become an increasingly large part of people’s day-to-day lives and it’s no different for the older generation, although not quite as frequent as the younger groups.

The membership among Facebook is highest, although the greatest affinity lies with the more matured ‘FriendsReunited’, which has an index of 118 and 78 with the 55-64 and 65-75 age groups respectively.

However 30% of 55-75 year olds visit Facebook at least once a month (9% check it daily) while usership within FriendsReunited is considerably less, with only 15% checking it once a month and only 0.5% checking it daily.

We can also examine the most common activities on social networking sites. These include a third reading updates from friends, 30% posting/sending messages and a further 30% looking at content others have uploaded.

Nineteen percent comment on others statuses, 16% play games and 15% chat on instant messenger services on the sites.

Again, a pattern of expected behaviours as well as perhaps some slightly unexpected ones are emerging. 

These age groups are not merely part of the social media revolution – they are active participants within it. 

Attitudes to the internet

Looking deeper into what is important to these groups when it comes to the internet, it becomes apparent that attitudes in general do not shift much between the 55-65 and 65-75 age groups. 

There are, however, some differences to be found.

Sixty two percent of 55-64s and 57% of 65-75s agree that they look to the internet first for research on expensive items.  

Sixty percent and 52% respectively even say that the internet is the first place they look for information, while 42% of both groups are concerned about privacy on social networking sites.

A third say email is an important part of their social life. Forty percent and 31% respectively agree that they don’t know what they’d do without the internet, and 46% and 48% agree that they spend the majority of their time on just a small number of sites.

The 55-64 group are more likely to share sites they find interesting (35% agree compared to 25% in the 65-75’s), 38% say that gaming is for all people not just for children compared to 21% of 65-75s, and 42% say they generally tell the truth on their social networking site compared to only 29% of 65-75s.

The data indicates that, as people get older, the usefulness of the internet diminishes as their priorities shift. 

They do not avoid it necessarily because of a lack of understanding or an unwillingness to adopt new technology, more that the function it serves becomes less relevant to them.

While they continue to reap the benefits of being able to more easily manage their utilities/finances, gain access to the news and research/buy products, the aspects that have become increasingly relevant to the younger generation of internet users, of course, are simply no longer relevant.

Planning applications

Such insights can have profound implications for communicating with this audience, enabling us to truly optimise the online experience. 

For example, Facebook has clearly broken free from its stereotyped past and the information gleaned from CCS on membership, and even usage, now enables planners to fully utilise its possibilities. 

Furthermore, it is clear that traditional papers and TV are now not the only way to target older members of society, encouraging us to add a further layer to our communications as heavy usage of digital editions of papers and VoD becomes increasingly common among this group. 

Importantly, the insight that more than a quarter of this group share with friends the websites they find interesting indicates the exciting possibilities of what could be achieved with an effective digital campaign targeting this segment. 

In an age where media usage is increasingly fragmenting and becoming ever more digitalised, it is clear that the older generations are not being left behind.

Richard Morris, deputy managing director, Carat

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.

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 January 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm

1.         Government launch of eAccessibility Plan

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey and Maria Miller, the Minister for Disabled People, have launched the eAccessibility Plan, a detailed package of measures towards a more inclusive digital economy for disabled people. Proposals include promoting inclusive design, improving public websites, upgrading IT equipment and providing better online content. Key objectives are:

  • Improving technology and digital equipment to suit the needs of those with disabilities and tackling issues of affordability and availability of equipment (television, radio, computer) and software (such as Braille embossers, light signallers and screen readers)
  • Implementing a new regulatory framework to enable OFCOM to specify measures to ensure disabled people have equivalent choice and access to digital communications services as non-disabled consumers
  • Improving the design of public sector websites
  • Making previously inaccessible online and television content accessible, such as e-books for those with a visual impairment
  • Promoting awareness of the issues facing disabled groups in the digital economy to achieve a more inclusive society

The plan will enable the UK to meet the European Union’s “Riga Declaration” (‘to ensure accessibility, affordability and equal participation for disabled users in the digital economy’) as well as EU directives on electronic communications networks and services. An appendix describes the range of assistive technology products which support e-accessibility. The plan will be implemented by the eAccessibility Forum, a group of over 60 experts from Government, industry and the voluntary sector, including AbilityNet. The announcement and plan are here.

 

2.         EHRC triennial report

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is required to report to Parliament every three years on the progress that society is making in relation to equality, human rights and good relations.

According to the first triennial review, ‘How fair is Britain?’, key challenges include closing the gaps in qualifications and employment between disabled people and the rest of the population, reducing hate crimes and disability-related bullying, reducing the need for and cost of informal care, and increasing autonomy, choice and control for carers and those who receive care. The report is here.

 

3.         ACOD NGA Research

ACOD’s NGA research continues to be promoted to relevant audiences.

Dr Jonathan Freeman  – Managing Director – i2 media research limited spoke at the RAate conference on Monday 29th November 2010.  RAate bills itself as the only UK conference focused on the latest innovations and developments in assistive technology. See his paper here: http://www.raate.org.uk/content/view-papers/441/

Jane Rumble and Damian Radcliffe will be presenting the findings at the University of Reading next month as part of the KT-EQUAL event looking at “Achieving and sustaining digital engagement”.

See: http://kt-equal.org.uk/uploads/digitalinclusion/Programme%20Digital%20Inclusion.pdf

 

4.         Older People

Nearly one in five people currently living in the UK will survive to celebrate their 100th birthday, according to government estimates. See:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/uk-12091758

 

5.         Disability – Frankie Boyle

Ofcom are investigating Channel 4 over the broadcast of programme by comedian Frankie Boyle programme where he made comments about Katie Price’s disabled son. This followed a complaint from Katie and also from viewers.

In addition, Ofcom has received a complaint from Rethink, the national mental health charity, relating to an episode of Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights on Channel 4. The complaint is being assessed under the Broadcasting Code, in accordance with our procedures. Suffice to say, we take issues relating to discrimination on the grounds of disability, mental health, or learning difficulties very seriously.

 

6.         Video Relay

www.vrstoday.com – is a campaign for universal provision of video relay services.

 

7.         RNID launches Impact Report 2010

Every year RNID reports on the impact its work has had on the lives of people who are deaf or hard of hearing by filming people telling their own stories. The online video clips – with subtitles and BSL interpretation – showcase some of the main achievements from 2009/10.

For example, you can watch Michael and Jessica, who are profoundly deaf, talk about how the new emergency SMS service meant that their baby son was born safely. 

The latest Impact Report is now live: you can watch the films and find out much more at www.rnid.org.uk/ukcod1

 

8.         Learning Disabilities

The Office for Disability Issues notes that there are an estimated 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK. In partnership with the Department of Health they have developed some new Easy Read guidance documents to explain how best to use Easy Read to reach all audiences.

Download the guidance, free, from here: Easy Read guidance and inclusive communications

 

9.         Disability fund to be phased out

A fund supporting more than 21,000 people with severe disabilities is to be phased out by 2015, a minister says. Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/uk-11985568

 

10.       Proposed socio-economic duty on public sector bodies dropped

The government is dropping the proposed socio-economic duty on public sector bodies, which would have required all public sector bodies to consider tackling wide socio-economic problems whenever taking an important decision.

More details on the BBC website. (17th Nov) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11771302

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 December 9, 2010 at 5:35 pm

1. Personal Finance

Several papers picked up Aviva’s quarterly Real Retirement Report which noted that the Over-55s increasingly concerned about the rising cost of living.

The Daily Telegraph reported “Pensioners are being forced to turn their hobbies into jobs as they prepare to work until they drop” whilst the Guardian focused on “Pensioners slashing spending on food in order to meet rising household bills”.

“Unlike their parents, the current generation of over 55s are facing the prospect of paying off a significant amount of mortgage debt as they move into retirement. Indeed, the practice of buying houses later in life and releasing the capital to pay for items such as cars, holidays, children’s university costs, etc, has taken its toll,” said Clive Bolton, of Aviva.

One-fifth of the over 55s still have substantial mortgages, unlike earlier generations, which tended to pay off their home loans by that age, the report found. The figures again underlined how the average 55-64 year old is worse off than the average 65-74 year old. Aviva found that pre-retirees’ mean monthly income is £1,313, compared to £1,374 among those who have taken retirement.

 

BT has launched a new booklet aimed at giving consumers practical advice on getting the best telephony package to suit individual budgets.

The latest in its series of Communications Choices booklets has been developed to help people manage their household communications budget and provides advice on what to do if they struggle to pay their bills.  The 20-page booklet, produced with support from the free-to-client money advice community, is available in printed format and as a download on www.bt.com/includingyou

 

2. Consumer

Commenting on the Consumer Experience the Telegraph noted that: “A generation of ‘silver surfers’ is driving a rise in broadband take-up”.  The report stated that “Nearly half of the over-75s, however, reported difficulties in using computers and mobile phones, while a third of 65-74-year-olds said they too struggled with mobile technology.

The number of broadband connections in Britain grew by three per cent in the last year, but by nine per cent among 65-74-year-olds and eight per cent for over-75s. Nearly one in six, however, still say they do not intend to get web access in the next year. A fifth said the same in 2009.”

David Sinclair, Head of Policy and Research at the ILC-UK, has written a report on the potential financial reward of engaging with the older consumer.  “The Golden Economy: The Consumer Marketplace in an Ageing Society” is available at: http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/record.jsp?type=publication&ID=80.

The report notes that older consumer market is expected to grow by 81 per cent from 2005 to 2030 while the 18-59 year old market will only increase 7 per cent. It goes on to profile older consumers, talk about their consumer experience (covering issues such as design, jargon, mis-selling and upper age limits on products and services which may mean that these are inaccessible to older consumers).

 

3. Digital Participation

BT has relaunched its free broadband Community Connections award scheme, www.btcommunityconnections.com  to help get communities online. Community groups in the UK can apply to get online free for 12 months if they can demonstrate how they will help people discover the wonders of the internet for the first time.  There are around nine million people in the UK who have never used the internet. The closing date for applications is 13th January and winners will be announced by the end of February.

The Telegraph reported on Martha Lane Fox’s “Go On, Give Someone Their First Time Online” campaign for web-savvy introduce friends and relatives to the internet for the first time. The initiative also encourages the recycling and refurbishing of old computers.

 

A campaign allowing people with disabilities a quick, simple way of reporting inaccessible websites, including by email or Twitter, was launched last month. Complaints filed using ‘Fix the Web’ are taken forward by volunteers, who contact the website owners and ask them to fix the problem. The service was developed by the charity Citizens Online: http://www.fixtheweb.net/

 

Public services should be delivered online or by other digital means, the Government announced in November: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/news_releases/2010/101122-defaultdigital.aspx

In a report to the Cabinet Office, Martha Lane Fox argued that “shifting 30% of government service delivery contracts to digital channels has the potential to deliver gross annual savings of more than £1.3 billion, rising to £2.2 billion if 50% of contacts shifted to digital.”

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, responded to the report by saying:“This does not mean we will abandon groups that are less likely to access the internet: we recognise that we cannot leave anyone behind. Every single Government service must be available to everyone – no matter if they are online or not.” 

However Age UK in an article entitled “Millions of elderly people could lose out on important health and education benefits as the Government plans to put major Post Office services online”  claimed “that six million people over the age of 65 have no access to the internet, many of whom are already isolated and need public services to survive.”

We work with a lot of older people to get them on online,” a spokesman said. “But we have to accept that there are a lot of people out there who do not use the internet and we need to make sure that we do not further isolate them in any way.”

The first services to go online will be student loans followed by applications to schools, such as school meals; personal applications like driving licences; and benefits such as job seekers’ allowance. Eventually other services will be rolled out like child benefit.

Part of solution, according to an article in the Guardian, could be for customers to access the web in places such as Post Offices. 

However, “George Thomson, general secretary of the National Federation of SubPostmasters, said he was glad the government wanted post offices to be the place that people without internet connections would go to access government services. But he added it could also be a threat to Britain’s 12,000 post offices.

“I do have a problem with everything going online,” said Thomson. He argued that a lot much of the work of post offices was dealing face to face with people about their Post Office card accounts, green giros and taxing their cars, for example. “Those are important transactions, and the philosophy of everything going online means that despite the new products there could be a lower volume of work overall.

“Most post offices are also shops and they depend on the footfall that comes in. If 3,000 people come in during a week, they also buy their newspapers, bread and milk there. My fear is that, if you lose the volume, then the business model that sustains that disappears.” “

 

4. Telecare

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow has launched the government’s vision for adult social care, ‘Capable Communities and Active Citizens’. Telecare, re-ablement and ‘home improvements and adaptations’ are highlighted as preventative services with the potential to save resources as well as promote independence.

The Government’s aim is to shift power from the state to the citizen through:

  • increasing the uptake of personal budgets (30 per cent of eligible users by April 2011 and everyone eligible by 2013)
  • information and advice as a universal service
  • £400 million for carers’ breaks
  • preventative action in local communities to keep people independent
  • breaking down barriers between health and social care funding
  • care and support to be delivered through a ‘plural market’ in partnership between individuals, communities, the voluntary sector, the NHS and council services

The announcement is here and the vision is here.

 

Age UK provides easy-to-read information on equipment and adaptations in the home, available via this link.

 

‘Invest-to-save’ funding by the Welsh Assembly Government includes support for telecare and a single public sector broadband network. The £7.3 million investment is expected to save the public sector £14 million a year and some £64 million over the longer term. Details via this link.

 

5. Disability

A video demonstrating how to use the Refreshabraille 18, a Braille display and keyboard, built by the non-profit American Printing House for the Blind, with an Apple iPhone or iPod, has been posted on YouTube. A link to the video and a transcription can be found on the ‘StoneKnight’ blog run by transcription specialist Mirabai Knight: http://bit.ly/dIU26U

 

The UK’s first ever Disability History Month (UKDHM) runs from 22nd November to 22nd December. More information here.

 

The East Anglian Daily Times reports on a rise in hate crimes committed against the disabled – using figures obtained under FOI. In Suffolk over a 12 month period, these crimes were up 60%. See: http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/suffolk_hate_crimes_against_the_disabled_up_60_1_718573

 

The Department for Work and Pensions has published the latest statistics on the Access to Work programme, see here. Delivered by Jobcentre Plus, this provides practical advice and support, including equipment and adaptations, to disabled people and their employers to help them overcome work-related obstacles.

24,340 individuals were helped in the period April 2010 – June 2010. However, Access to Work has cut the range of products it will fund. Desktop computers, voice activation software and ergonomic chairs and desks are among equipment that will no longer be paid for by the government, but will become the responsibility of employers to provide. A report in Ability magazine is here.

 

Perhaps the biggest story in this community over the past month derived from Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s launch of a white paper setting out radical plans for welfare reform. A new universal credit will be introduced to simplify the benefits system, reduce welfare dependency, and make work pay. The new credit will provide a basic amount, with additions for those with children and other caring responsibilities, people with disabilities and those with housing needs. It will be available for working-age people both in and out of work and will replace many existing benefits.

Disability living allowance will continue, but will be reformed so that support is targeted on people who face significant barriers to participating in society, based on a new assessment. The government is considering whether changes to carer’s allowance will be necessary. The new universal credit will ensure that benefits are withdrawn ‘slowly and rationally’ as people return to work and increase their working hours. Under a new system of conditionality backed by tougher sanctions, claimants will be split into four groups depending on how close they are to getting back to work and support will be tailored accordingly:

  • No conditionality – disabled people or those with a health condition that prevents them from working, lone parents or lead carer with a child under age one;
  • Keeping in touch with the labour market – lone parent or lead carer with a young child aged over one but under five;
  • Work preparation – disabled people or those with a health condition which prevents them from working at the current time;
  • Full conditionality – jobseekers (there will be mandatory work activity for some jobseekers).

A Welfare Reform Bill in January 2011 will give effect to these changes, followed by a phased introduction of the new system from 2013. The announcement and white paper are here and here.

The Department for Work and Pensions has put together a summary of how disabled people may be affected by current changes which is available via this link

According to official statistics, three-quarters of people applying for the new employment and support allowance (ESA) which replaces incapacity benefit (IB) are being found fit for work after undergoing the controversial new work capability assessment (WCA), or they withdraw their claim before they complete the assessment. More information here.
 

6. Employment and Portrayal

In November The Times reported that “A former BBC journalist will become today the first presenter to take the corporation to an employment tribunal for age and sex discrimination. Miriam O’Reilly, 53, who was dropped from Countryfile, the BBC One programme in 2008, will bring her claim before a London Central employment tribunal.

Ms O’Reilly was told in November 2008 that she was to lose her post on Countryfile as part of a revamp of the BBC One show. Ms O’Reilly, an award-winning journalist who spent 25 years at the BBC, was removed alongside Juliet Morris, Charlotte Smith and Michaela Strachan, reporters in their forties and fifties. They were replaced by the former host of Watchdog, Julia Bradbury, then 36, and Matt Baker, then 30, as the show moved into a prized early evening slot.

Ms O’Reilly is claiming for sex discrimination, age discrimination, and victimisation, as she says she has not been given further work by the BBC after claims that she leaked stories about internal discontent over the removal of the women.

The BBC has been forced to address accusations of ageism, after the exit of older women such as Moira Stuart, 61, and Anna Ford, 67. Stuart has recently returned as the newsreader on Chris Evans’s Radio 2 breakfast show.

Miriam O’Reilly was dropped by the BBC One show Countryfile in 2008 .”

links for 2010-12-05

In Daily Links on December 6, 2010 at 1:21 am