Damian Radcliffe

Posts Tagged ‘telecare’

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. “

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

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

1.      Whitehall

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

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

2.        Smartphones

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

3.        Health

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

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

 

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

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

4.        Disability

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

5.        Subtitles

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

6.        Video Relay

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

7.        Digital Inclusion

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

8.        Web Accessibility

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

9.        Other

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

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

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 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 .”