On this day: IBM brand is born

An image of the IBM logoThe name IBM turns 97 years old this Valentine’s Day (14 February 2021). 

It was on this day the name became IBM having been known previously as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, founded 110 years ago.

IBM invented much of the technology we use today and also gave birth to AbilityNet. 

In the 1990s, IBM American launched the National Support Centre for People with Disabilities in the US, followed by a smaller UK group. 

For FREE technology help call AbilityNet’s Helpline 0800 048 7642

UK Support group launched by IBM

The UK group published a phone number offering to help people research information about disabilities. 

Within three months it had seven staff and was fielding 700 calls per month.

In 1992 it separated from IBM to become a charity called the Computability Centre, alongside the University of Birmingham and The British Computer Society (BCS)

ITCanHelp founder Ken Stoner who had joined the Board of the British Computer Society Disability Group. Ken had previously been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) launched a pilot of the IT Can Help scheme in 1994. 

Sadly, Ken passed away in 2006, but part of his legacy was in establishing ITCanHelp in 50 counties across the UK.

Today, we help thousands of people every year - never more so than during Covid-19.

AbilityNet emerged from the merger of the Computability Centre with its close partner, the Foundation for Communication for the Disabled.

AbilityNet was founded in 1998 with an aim to “improve the conditions of life of people with disabilities [and] to advance and promote for the public benefit research into the use of associated equipment.”

Those principles that ring true, today as we strive for a digital world accessible to all.

Volunteers and staff at the volunteer day 2019. The IBM logo is visible.

IBM Innovating to improve the lives of disabled people

As well as providing technical support, IBM has a history of innovating in the field of accessibility. 

In 1992 it launched the IBM Screen Reader/2 for OS2 (1992), and later the IBM Home Page Reader a practical screen reader and voice browser (1998).

Later, IBM helped develop the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, the first World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) web accessibility standard.

That innovative spirit is embedded in AbilityNet’s DNA. 

Every year we run the Tech4Good Awards recognising organisations and individuals who use digital technology to improve the lives of others and make the world a better place.

Now in its 4th year, TechShare Pro is organised by AbilityNet and is one of Europe's premier accessibility and inclusive design events. 

The event features leaders sharing insights, including business strategy, accessibility leadership and digital practice that shape the future of accessibility. 

How AbilityNet can help

Help for individuals

Professional accessibility services