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Archive for March, 2011

Report Highlights Major Research Gaps For Assistive Technology

Lack of awareness of the needs of users with disabilities; funding problems; user-testing problems and problems with ensuring use of open standards are all among barriers to successful transfer of new assistive technologies from the research laboratory to the real world, a new report finds.

The report was written by consultant Dr John Gill for the Cardiac project, a European initiative to identify research and development gaps in the fields of accessible and assistive ICT ( ).

Council Web Accessibility ‘Should Be Built Into Procurement’

Website accessibility should be built into local authority software and IT systems procurement criteria, the leading annual review of all UK council websites has found.

More local authorities should also carry out user-testing on their websites using groups of people with disabilities, according to Better Connected 2011 ( ), conducted by the public sector Society of IT Management (Socitm).

Empowering Potential of Technology Celebrated in New Awards

A new awards event aims to recognise the ability of computers, the internet and assistive technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities and empower vulnerable sections of society.

Organised by disability and ICT charity AbilityNet ( ) and supported by organisations including BT, Microsoft and Race Online 2012, the first Technology4Good awards ( ) are looking for examples of charities, businesses, government organisations and individuals that have used digital technology to improve the work and home lives of others, including disabled people, the elderly and young children. Two Accessibility Awards are featured in the seven categories.

Open Source Software: Priced Out of the Market?

By David Bates

There is now increasing emphasis on enabling more of the older and poorer members of the community to use computers to access information and to communicate with others. I see the primary need for non-computer-literate older people to be an inexpensive ‘net book’ with a very simple and easily-learned interface which will enable them to undertake basic tasks. But from where can such machines be purchased with suitable, simple software installed?

Like a new driver, learners are easily put off by technicalities – they just want to move forward by operating the controls without learning what goes on under the bonnet. This problem is especially acute for blind computer users, who have to control the machine in an unusual way: because they cannot read the text or see the cursor they must move it around the screen with the Alt, arrow and Tab keys, and then listen to the words under the cursor as they are read out with a synthetic voice. The link they require may be very visible on the screen, but it may well take the carefully listening user many keystrokes to locate it.