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New app helps to combat poor customer service faced by people with disabilities

A new app-based system has been launched that aims to “shake up” the customer service industry across shops, banks and other venues.

The Welcome app lets people with disabilities tell shops and venues of their arrival, so that staff can provide tailored assistance suited to their condition.

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Housing help tips, podcasts and lifelines for people with sight loss, collected online

A new online housing guide for people with sight loss has been launched, collecting together existing resources, advice and podcasts to help people in a range of situations.

The free guide has been created by sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust, as a comprehensive portal for visually impaired people who are looking for a new home or experiencing housing issues.

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Talking ATMs launched at all branches of major UK bank

Santander has announced talking ATMs for blind and visually impaired customers across all of its UK branches.

Many banks offer talking ATMs at some branches, but Santander’s move makes it the first bank to offer the service at every one of its UK outlets – around 1,400. In May, HSBC launched 1,500 talking cash machines around its UK branch network.

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Interview with Penny Melville-Brown OBE: Baking Blind – an online and global adventure

Cooking is yet another daily task that many people take for granted. Having sight loss can make cooking incredibly difficult, but Penny Melville-Brown OBE – disability rights advocate and Director of Disability Dynamics – wanted to show the world otherwise.

Baking Blind is her YouTube channel and online project, featuring videos of Penny – who is blind – preparing all manner of dishes, from curries to quails’ eggs to Turkish delight.

Earlier this year, Penny entered the Holman Prize, a competition run by San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired organisation to fund big ideas and innovative projects pitched by people who are blind. Penny’s ambition was to take her online cookery project around the world, cooking across the globe and filming it as she went.

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Evolving technologies won’t automatically empower people, says Paralympian

Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence have huge potential to empower assistive technology users, but we cannot simply wait for this to happen, a renowned Paralympian and member of the House of Lords has said.

In an opening speech at the Assistive Technology Exhibition and Conference (ATEC) in London earlier this month, Lord Chris Holmes told delegates that these technologies must be harnessed in the right way.

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Research uncovers ‘the real digital divide’ facing millions in the UK

Fresh data has shown further evidence of the digital gulf in the UK facing millions of people with disabilities and older people.

A report by digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation and Professor Simeon Yates, titled ‘The real digital divide?’, examines the demographics of people in the UK who never or rarely use the internet. The report is based on (and builds on) a 2015 report from telecommunications regulatory body Ofcom on ‘Adults’ media use and attitudes’

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New guidance helps recruiters dodge digital accessibility pitfalls

A guide on recruitment and digital accessibility has been released, aiming to help companies and organisations ensure that their digital resources are inclusive for all applicants when searching and applying for jobs.

The Accessible Recruitment Guide has been produced by Media Access Australia, a non-profit digital accessibility organisation. Designed primarily for HR staff, the guide aims to offer “real world guidance” on digital recruitment resources.

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The European e-Accessibility Forum: opening up digital culture

Just as digital accessibility picks up more and more mainstream interest, certain topics within the accessibility field also begin gathering momentum. One such topic is accessible culture. Clearly, this can mean many things, but in this case it refers to cultural spaces (such as museums and art galleries), projects and resources being made more inclusive through digital technology.

For some people, this has already been a focal point for years, perhaps through employment, personal interest or just frustration at the lack of accessibility within these areas.

Earlier this month, the eleventh European e-Accessibility Forum sought to explore this vast subject with its theme of ‘e-accessible culture’. Held in Paris at the Cité des sciences et de l’Industrie, the event was organised by French non-profit BrailleNet, an organisation that works towards improving digital accessibility.

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A “tax on accessible books”: mixed emotions at Marrakesh Treaty progress

The latest agreement in the process of implementing the Marrakesh Treaty, which aims to help end the ‘book famine’ faced by blind and visually impaired people, has been met with a mixture of praise and frustration.

The treaty aims to increase the availability of books in accessible formats, such as Braille and e-books, by relaxing copyright laws which make it difficult or time-consuming to share accessible books across different countries (read e-Access Bulletin’s previous coverage of the Marrakesh Treaty at the following link: http://eab.li/6j ).

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New accessible ATM app points users in the right direction

A new app that helps blind and visually impaired users track down accessible ATMs has been launched.

The free LINK ATM Locator lets users search for cash machines that have a range of usability features, including: audio assistance; wheelchair access; free-to-use ATMs; £5 note dispensing; mobile phone top-up facilities; and PIN number management.

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