Happy 25th Birthday AbilityNet: 1998 - 2023

Happy 25th birthday AbilityNet, plus graphic of a birthday cakeTake a moment to think back to 1998… the average house price was £75,806, the most popular phone was the Nokia 5110, TVs were still bulky boxes at a modest 21 inches and, in September of that year, Google was launched.

On the 23rd of January 1998, AbilityNet was born. Today, 23 January is our official 25th anniversary.

Our mission - to help make a digital world accessible to all - has driven us ever since, has seen us grow in numbers and reach, and has ensured that each new milestone in technology was used to empower people with disabilities in every aspect of their lives.

Gary Moore, CEO of AbilityNet:

Gary Moore, smiling“On AbilityNet’s 25th birthday, we are celebrating the incredible advances in technology during the last couple of decades. That transformational power is still not equally available for everyone, with a marked gap in uptake amongst older and disabled users.

More than ever, equal access to suitable technology and content has a critical impact on an individual’s life experience. AbilityNet will continue to help older and disabled people to access and use devices. We will continue to help make content more accessible. Working with our volunteers and industry partners, we want people to use technology to achieve their potential at work, in education and in the home."

Milestones in AbilityNet's mission

We’ve come a long way in our lifetime as a charity with a mission to help people reach their full potential through technology.

Accessibility expertise

It’s hard to overstate the importance of apps and the internet. After auditing our first website in 2003, we now have a globally-acclaimed team of accessibility expert consultants and a range of services from diverse user testing to embedding accessibility within every aspect of your organisation with our Digital Accessibility Maturity Model

The result; millions have benefitted from better apps and websites and been able to engage fully in the online world.

You can also access a suite of training courses on digital accessibility and workplace inclusion, delivered by our expert consultants.

25% off accessibility and inclusion training courses!
In celebration of AbilityNet's 25th anniversary, for 25 days we are offering 25% off live training sessions*. Use the code Happy25thAbilityNet to redeem this discount and build skills in accessibility and inclusive design.
Offer ends Thursday 16th February 2023 at 23:59 GMT.

Assessment services

Our assessment services - matching people’s needs with the right tech and software solutions - have also grown significantly. As well as continuing to deliver expert workplace and HE assessments across the UK, we now offer a comprehensive workplace-wide Gap Analysis to gauge where your organisation is on its employee inclusion journey, as well as helping universities and colleges measure their progress with our HE and FE Maturity Model.

Group of approx 40 AbilityNet staff smiling and waving insideProviding IT Support at Home and online

We also now have nearly 400 skilled IT volunteers providing free services to disabled individuals in their homes across the UK. This is complemented by our wide range of expert resources, including factsheets, webinars and ‘My Computer My Way’ and our Freephone advice and information call line (0800 048 7642) for anyone seeking help with accessible technology challenges.

Globally renowned technology events

Pixellated multicoloured logo. Text reads: AbilityNet Tech4Good AwardsSupported by BT ever since its launch in 2011, the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards highlight the wealth of charities, businesses and volunteers across the UK and beyond that harness the power of technology to benefit everyone. It should be an unmissable event again this year.

Lastly, launched in 2017, our annual TechShare Pro conference has now become the must-attend global digital inclusion event for accessibility and IT professionals alike. It also now exists as a year-round schedule of activities in the form of our new TechShare Pro 365.

Basically, we’ve been busy. 

How we have helped: the stats

You can read more about our impact on individuals and organisations across all sectors in our annual impact report published each March and, as well as remaining focused on our charitable mission to help disabled individuals through tech, we are also ever-aware of our broader responsibilities.

We invite you to read about our steps towards lightening our impact on the environment, as well as our approach to social responsibility and good governance.

Need help improving your accessibility?  Speak to our experts

Robin speaking into a microphone as part of desktop tech set upRobin Christopherson MBE, AbilityNet's Head of Digital Inclusion:

"I'm proud to have been with AbilityNet since the very start. We've seen huge changes in technology in the past quarter of a century on our journey from desktop PCs to smartphones, from the internet to the internet of things, from Sony Walkmen to smartspeakers and AI and so, so much more.

Like millions of disabled people I wouldn't be in work at all without the power of tech - and AbilityNet is always there to help us all get the most from our software and devices, both specialist and mainstream."

Read more from Robin about tech developments over AbilityNet's lifetime: 25 Years of Tech - and AbilityNet

Celebrate with us on social media