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Archive for the 'Digital inclusion' Category

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Standards Developers Urged to Support Older and Disabled People

People working on technical standards for mainstream products and services must be more aware of the needs of older and disabled people, delegates at eAccess 13 heard in a closing session in speakers raised key points for the future of accessibility.

Gill Whitney, head of the Design for All Research Group at Middlesex University, said that in a recent survey of committee members by the British Standards Institution, only one third answered ‘yes’ to the question: “Do any of your standardisation activities involve the standardisation of products or services where the accessibility for older and disabled people needs to be considered?”

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eAccess 13 – Debate: The Price of Software Freedom

By Dan Jellinek.

With some assistive technology software such as specialist text-to-speech screenreaders being relatively expensive to buy, moves have been underway for some time to widen the role that free and open source software can play in supporting the IT needs of people with disabilities.

However, while free software sounds like a great idea – and an even better price – its development is not always so straightforward, delegates heard at the recent eAccess 13 conference in London.

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Access to the Internet by Older People and Mobile Tips at Heart of e-Access 13

Access to the internet in homes for the elderly and developing inclusive services on smartphones and tablet computers are among topics on the agenda at e-Access 13, the UK’s leading event on access to technology by people with disabilities.

Delegates will hear about the Connecting Care project, looking at how care homes for older people can make the most of new technology to support their organisation, carers and service users. The project is run by Lasa, a technology support group for charities and public sector bodies, with funding from the Department of Health.

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Web Accessibility: One Million Steps: Boosting Access Awareness, One Website at a Time.

By Robin Christopherson

Recent research shows that the great majority of websites are still failing consistently to comply with even the lowest priority checkpoints of the accessibility guidelines set out by the international web standards body the World Wide Web Consortium. Despite a plethora of initiatives to raise awareness of this issue, from Citizens Online’s ‘Fix the Web’ campaign to Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the situation does not seem to be improving at a significant rate.

Little wonder, therefore, that one in six of us is still reluctant to venture into the online world and not surprising either that around half of those on the wrong side of the digital divide are disabled, and a similar number are aged 65 or over. The scope for mainstream technologies to transform the lives of this sizeable minority seems largely untapped.

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Talking Cash Machines Win Technology4Good Award

Banking and financial services company Barclays is among winners of the Technology4Good Awards 2013, an annual event which celebrates the potential of technology to affect social change.

The award recognises Barclays’ use of technology in making its services more accessible to people with disabilities and impairments. This includes adapting more than 3,500 of its ATMs (automated teller machines, or cashpoints) – 84% of the bank’s network – so that they can be used with earphones, allowing people with impaired vision, dyslexia or other reading problems to listen to the on-screen options.

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Digital Inclusion “About Everybody, Not Just Disabled People”

The concept of digital accessibility simply as a means of catering for disabled users is out-of-date: in the modern world, digital inclusion must be understood as the need to serve everybody, whatever their access method or device, a leading accessibility specialist has said.

Robin Christopherson, head of digital inclusion at technology access charity AbilityNet, told delegates at the recent national digital conference in London, ND13, that providers of digital content and services already need to adapt to new devices and access methods. With more people than ever accessing websites through mobile and other devices, we are in a situation where “everybody is disabled from time-to-time”, Christopherson said.

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Disability Still A Major Factor In Determining UK Internet Use, Report Finds

UK adults with a disability are still three times less likely to have used the internet than those without a disability, a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown.

The figures in the latest Internet Access Quarterly Update, released every four months, show that at the first quarter of 2013, there were 3.7 million disabled adults – as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act – who had never used the internet, representing 32% of all adults in the UK with a disability.

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Tech Giant Launches Smartphone For Older People

A smartphone designed for elderly people has been developed by global technology company Fujitsu.

When setting up the Stylistic S01 phone the user inputs their age, which customises some aspects to work differently. For example, the audio frequency range will be optimised for older people so they can clearly hear the voice of the person they are speaking to, and the phone can also slow down the speech of a caller without losing audio quality, again making it easier to understand.

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Age UK’s Internet Champion: My Online Life Began At 75

By Brenda O’Mulloy.

I have had a fantastic year as Age UK’s Internet Champion of 2012. First there was the honour of winning, followed by the excitement of being broadcast live on BBC radio, speaking at high profile conferences and events and being interviewed by a variety of newspapers and magazines all with the aim of extolling the virtues of using the internet in later life.

My son bought me a computer when I was 75. He connected me to the internet and changed my life! I had been feeling very cut off after moving away from my friends and family – my family live 200 miles away – and the passing of my husband.
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User Priorities Must Drive Accessible ICT Research, Warns Telecoms Expert

Research and investment priorities for the digital economy and development of internet services and mobile devices must reflect the needs of disabled and elderly people, a telecommunications expert has warned.

In a video address to a London event on the future of accessible ICT research( bit.ly/T0SkH2 ), Dr Mike Short, vice president of Telefónica Europe and former president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said customer demand for more accessible services has risen over the past ten years. Accordingly, mobile network providers need to think about different groups of users when planning for future growth, including the benefits that universal design can offer to everybody, Short said.
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