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Assistive tech can close disability employment gap and end UK’s ‘productivity deadlock’, claims parliamentary committee

A new report from the Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) claims that the Government – and particularly the Department of Work and Pensions, DWP – must lead by example and focus on assistive technology (AT) to boost both disability employment rates and the UK economy.

Other recommendations in the report include widening the scope of Personal Independence Payments (financial help for people with disabilities) to allow claimants to lease or buy assistive technology, and updating training for Access to Work scheme staff to help more people use AT.

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Improve online booking to make live music events disability-friendly, says report

A survey has found that 79% of people with disabilities have been put off buying live music tickets due to problems with booking access requirements, and 73% have felt discriminated against when booking, with many of the issues related to problematic websites and online booking systems.

The findings are taken from the State of Access Report 2018, published by the Attitude is Everything charity. The report examines the process of ‘access booking’ for live music events, defined as booking ‘reasonable adjustments’ or access requirements alongside tickets. This could include wheelchair accessible spaces, step-free seats, or additional tickets for a ‘personal assistant’ to attend a show and provide support.

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New online travel guide opens up UK attractions for accessible travel

A comprehensive publication detailing access facilities at venues and attractions across the UK has been released digitally by travel guides company Rough Guides and made available for free.

‘The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain’ aims to help people with a range of access requirements plans trips around the UK. The newly updated seventh version of the guide features specific information for people with autism and cognitive conditions.

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Boost UK industry through assistive tech, MPs and academics declare

Driving economic growth through technology, the disability employment gap, and robotics in healthcare were some of the topics discussed at the latest meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT).

The aim of the meeting was to explore assistive technology in relation to the UK Industrial Strategy, unveiled by the Government in November of last year, which set out plans to boost the UK economy and industry.

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3D audio maps out the world in new app for visually impaired users

Soundscapes and audio landmarks are two of the features in an innovative new navigation app designed for users with sight loss.

Designed by Microsoft, the Soundscape app maps out locations using 3D audio to help users build a picture of their surroundings, allowing them to locate specific places, such as restaurants, shops and specific addresses.

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Online toolkit aims to shake up Hollywood’s diversity issues

A free online resource has been launched to help the film and entertainment industries hire more people with disabilities.

Created by non-profit organisation RespectAbility, the Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit features information on specific disabilities, details about apps that can benefit users different conditions, a documentary on ‘the evolution of disability in entertainment’, best practice examples of disability represented in TV and film, and links to organisations that can help with hiring people with disabilities.

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Government asks the experts for guidance in assistive technology inquiry

Accessibility professionals and assistive technology users have given the UK Government recommendations in an inquiry organised by the government’s Work and Pensions Select Committee.

The inquiry looked at how technology can help improve employment rates among those with disabilities, as part of the government’s response to a report on the disability employment gap.

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“Born accessible” e-books is the grand plan for new e-publishing tool

A free tool to test e-book content for accessibility errors has been launched.

The ‘Ace’ tool has been developed by the DAISY Consortium, a global organisation working to improve and promote accessible publishing and reading. The aim is to improve e-book usability for a wider audience and eliminate the barriers to reading e-books encountered by people with disabilities.

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Apps combine forces to give visually impaired passengers a smoother ride.

Popular global transportation app Moovit has partnered with Be My Eyes, an app service providing sighted assistance to visually impaired people, aiming to make transit easier for users with sight loss.

Moovit, which is used by over 120 million people in 80 countries and claims to be ‘the world’s number one transit app’, helps people move around cities by providing users with transport information, such as bus and train trackers and real-time updates. Be My Eyes connects visually impaired users with sighted volunteers to answer queries through a video call– for example, checking the sell-by date on food packaging. The service is used by over 60,000 people with sight loss and has over 876,000 sighted volunteers.

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An exercise in missed opportunity: inclusive fitness equipment for people with sight loss

Going to the gym or using exercise equipment at home is simply part of a daily routine for many people, but locking-in this routine isn’t as easy for everyone. A huge amount of modern fitness equipment just isn’t accessible for those with a visual impairment, as a new report has demonstrated.

The study, ‘Inclusive fitness equipment for people with a visual impairment’, was commissioned by sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust and carried out by Rica (the Research Institute for Consumer Affairs). It showed the prevalence of console systems that are partially or entirely unusable to people with a visual impairment, despite a widespread desire among this group stay physically active.

e-Access Bulletin found out more about the study from Lynn Watson, Head of Research at Thomas Pocklington Trust, and Chris Lofthouse, Outreach Manager at Rica.

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