17 big ways tech helps disabled people achieve their goals #idpd

There are 12 million disabled people in the UK, and an estimated 1.1 billion worldwide. Since 1992 the UN has promoted a day of observance and understanding of disability issue and this year's theme is is 'Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want'. We asked 17 of our followers, supporters and staff about the role of technology can play in achieving current and future life goals.

What is the role of technology in achieving life goals for disabled people?

Prof Stephen Hawking has achieved amazing things in his life thanks to technology

Professor Stephen Hawking

“I was lucky to be born in the computer age, without computers my life would have been miserable and my scientific career impossible. Technology continues to empower people of all abilities and AbilityNet continues to help disabled people in all walks of life.” (2012)

Kate Headley, Director of Consulting, The Clear Company

“As someone who now has limited vision, I can honestly say that technology has been the game changer for me. Although I have no secrets - with large font on phone and computer and I regularly share my texts out loud with fellow passengers. But I am independent at home and at work and just awaiting the driverless car!”

Joanna Wootten: Age, Disability and Inclusion expert at Solutions Included

“Technology has transformed my working life. As a deaf person I can now communicate directly with hearing people using emails, text messages, live messaging, or have conversations with them via Skype or FaceTime.  For larger meetings, the advent of reliable wifi means I can use my mobile phone or tablet to access remote captioning so I don't miss a word."
 

Sarah-Jane Peake, assistive technology trainer, Launchpad Assistive Technology

"Working one-to-one with students, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the wonderful impact technology can make to someone with a disability or specific learning disabilities. The confidence of being able to proof-read an essay using text-to-speech, the independence offered by voice recognition software that finally allows a student to fully express their ideas, or the relief felt by a student who has just discovered mind-mapping strategies that compliment the way they think. Technology is changing people’s lives."
 

Sean Douglas

Sean Douglas, founder of dyslexia podcast The Codpast

"There's masses of tech out there that allows people with disabilities to reach their full potential. Long gone are the days when assistive tech was cumbersome, expensive and specialist, now your smart phone can give you much of the help you need to deal with everyday tasks you may find difficult. "Surprisingly a lot of this assistive functionality is built into your phone's operating system or is available from third parties for free or for a small charge."

Georgina Eversfield Tanner, client of AbilityNet's ITCanHelp volunteering service

I've never had a computer before, but it's opened up a whole new world since my stroke. But I did say one day to Andy, my ITCanHelp volunteer from AbilityNet, 'what idiot put Angry Birds on there. There are so many of them and I'm absolutely hooked! Technology and AbilityNet has helped me tremendously to be in the modern world." See more of Georgina here in our video. 

Gareth Ford WIlliams is Head of Accessibility at BBC Design and Engineering

Gareth Ford Williams, Head of Accessibility, BBC Design and Engineering

“For many disabled people, a simple daily goal is to enjoy the same entertainment options. For video and TV that could mean captioning or audio descriptions, or using the text to speech features in their computer or phone to read out newspapers, magazines or blogs.”

Abbie Osborne, Assessor for AbilityNet

“Education is a vital way for disabled people to achieve their goals. I work with many students who face cognitive impairments such as dyslexia and dyspraxia, which make it difficult for them to organise their thoughts.

"Zotero is one of the most popular free tools I recommend. It takes the pain out of managing references when you’re working on essays and reports and integrates with Microsoft Word to use those references in whichever style you require. It works for Mac and PC, creates an alphabetical list of your sources (bibliography) and can keep track across multiple essays.”

Robin ChristophersonRobin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion, AbilityNet

“Technology helps everyone reach their full potential. Like nothing else on this planet, technology can embrace people’s differences and provide choice – choice to suit everyone and empower them to achieve their goals both at work and at play. On this day, please raise the cheer for technology and digital inclusion, wherever in the world you are.”

Morgan Lobb, Director, Diversity Jobs

“Assistive technology makes a real difference, without spellchecker I’d be doomed!”

Nicola Whitehill

Nicola Whitehill - founder of Facebook Group: Raynauds Scleroderma Awareness

“The internet is a lifeline for me. I'm under house arrest with Raynauds, but I still run a global community in my pyjamas!”

Nigel Lewis, CEO of AbilityNet

“Accessible technology can really help disabled people live their lives fuller, let’s all work together to make tech accessible and inclusive on this #idpd and always.”

Sarah Simcoe - chair of SEED Network, Fujitsu UK and Ireland

“Technology plays an important part in building an environment of accessibility and enablement – the use of tools, software and hardware in enabling disabled talent to fulfill their full potential is key to innovation and business growth.”

Hector Minto, Accessibility Evangelist, Microsoft

“There are so many things: Social media and the cloud's ability to connect us all and find people who can relate to our experience. Text communication and short messages are a great leveler. Images and video convey messages much more quickly. Twitter chats, blogs, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn groups all offer professionals with huge amounts of experience somewhere to share their knowledge. 

"It's all part of the Global Cloud for Good agenda - we need to understand Industrial Revolution 4.0 - the Internet of Things, and automation for example - and our place in it. We need a socially responsible cloud which improves life for everyone and leaves nobody behind.

"Finally I still think eyegaze as a direct control method needs to be tried first for people with physical access issues. The price is changing and the previously held view that it was only for those that had tried everything else is completely out of date but pervasive.”

Bela Gor is a Disability Legal Adviser at Business Disability ForumBela Gor, Disability Legal Adviser, Business Disability Forum

“In twenty years of disability discrimination legislation, the biggest change has been that what was once impossible or unreasonably difficult is now entirely possible - because of technology. Technology means that the way we all live and work has changed immeasurably and 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled people have become the ordinary way of life for everyone because of the technology on our desks, in our pockets and in our homes and workplaces.”

Kate Nash OBE, founder of PurpleSpace community of disability employee networks

"At PurpleSpace we are massive advocates of virtual networking and learning. While our members have a wide range of disabilities, the accessibility features built into smartphones, tablets and PCs mean that we can keep in touch and share career development opportunities on an equal level regardless of the different ways that we access technologies."

Ed Holland leads Driven MediaEdward Hollands, founder of Driven Media UK

“I use lots of assistance software to over come my spelling and grammar issues to look more professional as a founder. I don't write anything without Grammarly now. It's like having my own copywriter! Anyone who is dyslexic should definitely get it.”

How can AbilityNet help you make the most of tech?

17 big ways tech is helping disabled people achieve goals: 2016 International Day of Persons with Disabilities #idpd

There are 12 million disabled people in the UK, and an estimated 1.1 billion worldwide. Since 1992 the UN has promoted a day of observance and understanding of disability issue and this year's theme is is 'Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want'. We asked 17 of our followers, supporters and staff about the role of technology can play in achieving current and future life goals.

What is the role of technology in achieving life goals for disabled people?

Prof Stephen Hawking has achieved amazing things in his life thanks to technology

Professor Stephen Hawking

“I was lucky to be born in the computer age, without computers my life would have been miserable and my scientific career impossible. Technology continues to empower people of all abilities and AbilityNet continues to help disabled people in all walks of life.” (2012)

Kate Headley, Director of Consulting, The Clear Company

“As someone who now has limited vision, I can honestly say that technology has been the game changer for me. Although I have no secrets - with large font on phone and computer and I regularly share my texts out loud with fellow passengers. But I am independent at home and at work and just awaiting the driverless car!”

Joanna Wootten: Age, Disability and Inclusion expert at Solutions Included

“Technology has transformed my working life. As a deaf person I can now communicate directly with hearing people using emails, text messages, live messaging, or have conversations with them via Skype or FaceTime.  For larger meetings, the advent of reliable wifi means I can use my mobile phone or tablet to access remote captioning so I don't miss a word."
 

Sarah-Jane Peake, assistive technology trainer, Launchpad Assistive Technology

"Working one-to-one with students, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the wonderful impact technology can make to someone with a disability or specific learning disabilities. The confidence of being able to proof-read an essay using text-to-speech, the independence offered by voice recognition software that finally allows a student to fully express their ideas, or the relief felt by a student who has just discovered mind-mapping strategies that compliment the way they think. Technology is changing people’s lives."
 

Sean Douglas

Sean Douglas, founder of dyslexia podcast The Codpast

"There's masses of tech out there that allows people with disabilities to reach their full potential. Long gone are the days when assistive tech was cumbersome, expensive and specialist, now your smart phone can give you much of the help you need to deal with everyday tasks you may find difficult. "Surprisingly a lot of this assistive functionality is built into your phone's operating system or is available from third parties for free or for a small charge."

Georgina Eversfield Tanner, client of AbilityNet's ITCanHelp volunteering service

I've never had a computer before, but it's opened up a whole new world since my stroke. But I did say one day to Andy, my ITCanHelp volunteer from AbilityNet, 'what idiot put Angry Birds on there. There are so many of them and I'm absolutely hooked! Technology and AbilityNet has helped me tremendously to be in the modern world." See more of Georgina here in our video. 

Gareth Ford WIlliams is Head of Accessibility at BBC Design and Engineering

Gareth Ford Williams, Head of Accessibility, BBC Design and Engineering

“For many disabled people, a simple daily goal is to enjoy the same entertainment options. For video and TV that could mean captioning or audio descriptions, or using the text to speech features in their computer or phone to read out newspapers, magazines or blogs.”

Abbie Osborne, Assessor for AbilityNet

“Education is a vital way for disabled people to achieve their goals. I work with many students who face cognitive impairments such as dyslexia and dyspraxia, which make it difficult for them to organise their thoughts.

"Zotero is one of the most popular free tools I recommend. It takes the pain out of managing references when you’re working on essays and reports and integrates with Microsoft Word to use those references in whichever style you require. It works for Mac and PC, creates an alphabetical list of your sources (bibliography) and can keep track across multiple essays.”

Robin ChristophersonRobin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion, AbilityNet

“Technology helps everyone reach their full potential. Like nothing else on this planet, technology can embrace people’s differences and provide choice – choice to suit everyone and empower them to achieve their goals both at work and at play. On this day, please raise the cheer for technology and digital inclusion, wherever in the world you are.”

Morgan Lobb, Director, Diversity Jobs

“Assistive technology makes a real difference, without spellchecker I’d be doomed!”

Nicola Whitehill

Nicola Whitehill - founder of Facebook Group: Raynauds Scleroderma Awareness

“The internet is a lifeline for me. I'm under house arrest with Raynauds, but I still run a global community in my pyjamas!”

Nigel Lewis, CEO of AbilityNet

“Accessible technology can really help disabled people live their lives fuller, let’s all work together to make tech accessible and inclusive on this #idpd and always.”

Sarah Simcoe - chair of SEED Network, Fujitsu UK and Ireland

“Technology plays an important part in building an environment of accessibility and enablement – the use of tools, software and hardware in enabling disabled talent to fulfill their full potential is key to innovation and business growth.”

Hector Minto, Accessibility Evangelist, Microsoft

“There are so many things: Social media and the cloud's ability to connect us all and find people who can relate to our experience. Text communication and short messages are a great leveler. Images and video convey messages much more quickly. Twitter chats, blogs, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn groups all offer professionals with huge amounts of experience somewhere to share their knowledge. 

"It's all part of the Global Cloud for Good agenda - we need to understand Industrial Revolution 4.0 - the Internet of Things, and automation for example - and our place in it. We need a socially responsible cloud which improves life for everyone and leaves nobody behind.

"Finally I still think eyegaze as a direct control method needs to be tried first for people with physical access issues. The price is changing and the previously held view that it was only for those that had tried everything else is completely out of date but pervasive.”

Bela Gor is a Disability Legal Adviser at Business Disability ForumBela Gor, Disability Legal Adviser, Business Disability Forum

“In twenty years of disability discrimination legislation, the biggest change has been that what was once impossible or unreasonably difficult is now entirely possible - because of technology. Technology means that the way we all live and work has changed immeasurably and 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled people have become the ordinary way of life for everyone because of the technology on our desks, in our pockets and in our homes and workplaces.”

Kate Nash OBE, founder of PurpleSpace community of disability employee networks

"At PurpleSpace we are massive advocates of virtual networking and learning. While our members have a wide range of disabilities, the accessibility features built into smartphones, tablets and PCs mean that we can keep in touch and share career development opportunities on an equal level regardless of the different ways that we access technologies."

Ed Holland leads Driven MediaEdward Hollands, founder of Driven Media UK

“I use lots of assistance software to over come my spelling and grammar issues to look more professional as a founder. I don't write anything without Grammarly now. It's like having my own copywriter! Anyone who is dyslexic should definitely get it.”

How can AbilityNet help you make the most of tech?

AbilityNet staff gain national volunteer management qualification

AbilityNet staff have completed a national qualification in volunteer management to support their work with a network of over 8,000 volunteers with IT skills. This will help them support the continued growth of the volunteer network, who help meets the IT needs of charities and disabled people. Volunteer Administrator Josie Ray and Advice and Information Officer Alex Barker have both been awarded the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Certification.

“It made sense to study for this qualification as AbilityNet works closely with volunteers” said Alex. "We have a UK-wide team of volunteers who provide home visits for disabled people in the community. They are all CRB/Disclosure checked and can help with all kinds of technical issues, from installing broadband and removing viruses to setting up new software and backups. We also have a network of IT professionals who provide IT support to charities, including web design, databases and troubleshooting and helping to reduce costs and improve services. ”

Volunteering manager Anne Stafford said “It is important to AbilityNet that we deliver high standards & our volunteers are important members of our team. I am pleased that our staff have the opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism in volunteer engagement.”

More information:

Mind the Digital Gap: AbilityNet proposes new digital inclusion strategy

In our increasingly digital self-service economy technology now dominates shopping, entertainment, work and communication, as well as citizenship itself, but age and disability are barring people from full participation. Organisations like AbilityNet, Go ON UK and its disability focused partner, Go ON Gold, are making great strides to close the gap between the computer literate and the technologically disenfranchised, but the gulf is wider than that. 

AbilityNet’s new digital inclusion strategy ‘Mind the Digital Gap’ looks at the obstacles faced by the huge numbers of people who struggle to use digital technologies that are badly designed and just don't meet their needs. AbilityNet believes that we urgently need to recognise the social and economic costs of this digital gap, and identify clear actions to begin closing it.

Mind the Digital Gap logoThe strategy was launched at the House of Commons on 21 November at a reception hosted by Anne McGuire MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People. It calls for better design practices through implementing user-focused testing at all stages of the design of digital systems (rather than relying on post-hoc accessibility checks).

AbilityNet urges those who commission and build online services, operating systems and digital devices (whether business, government or third sector) to put a user-centred approach at the heart of the design process. The strategy also proposes tax incentives to promote inclusive design, closer partnerships between business and other sectors and a commitment to embed inclusive design at all levels of professional design education.

AbilityNet CEO Nigel Lewis says it's time to change how we design and deliver inclusive digital systems:

"For too long the debate about accessibility has focused on issues that are specific to disabled people, but testing a website after it has been built, or pursuing legal action to ensure that every website includes alt-tags for people who use a screen reader, just isn't working.

“There is a much more important strategic issue at stake and we need a new approach that goes beyond what we currently think of as ‘Accessibility’. To close that gap, it’s imperative that business, government and the third sector work together."

AbilityNet patron and chair of Go ON UK Martha Lane Fox agrees and believes that in addition to making design practices more inclusive we need to focus equipping people with the skills they need to participate in the digital age:

"Both Go ON UK and AbilityNet are working on building digital skills to enable everyone to benefit as much as possible from available technology."

The full strategy is available for download on the AbilityNet website.

 

Anne McGuire MP and Nigel Lewis of AbilityNet at the launch of AbilityNet's Mind the Digital Gap, House of Commons, November 2012'

Shadow Minister for Disabled People Anne McGuire with AbilityNet CEO Nigel Lewis at the reception at the House of Commons.

See more pictures from the event on Flickr

Free Webinar: Discuss dementia, AI and VR with the Alzheimer's Society

Do you or someone you know live with a dementia?

-Free webinar: Dementia, Ai and simple tech tweaks that can help – with Alzheimer’s Society   Wed 10 July 1-2pm BST   Image shows older man and younger woman smiling   Alzheimer’s Society and Recreo VR logos, plus AbilityNet and BT Group logos   Register today at:   www.abilitynet.org.uk/Dementia-Webinar Join us for a FREE webinar packed with inspiring stories and practical tools on how tech and digital devices can help if you or someone you know has dementia.

On Wednesday, 10 July 2024, from 1-2pm BST, we'll be joined by AbilityNet's Disability Consultant, Alex Barker, and special guests from Alzheimer's Society, and Recreo VR to share their expert insights.

In the webinar, we will:

  • Find out about digital tools that can help you manage daily life with dementia
  • Learn how the Alzheimer's Society has been working with Recreo VR on a groundbreaking project to boost the wellbeing of people with dementia
  • Share how AbilityNet and BT Group can help you and those you know with dementia with their tech, for free

 

Join the webinar

All those who register for the session will receive the recording after broadcast, so do sign up even if you can't make it on the day.

Bring a friend, relative or client

Offering this free webinar is one of the ways in which we're trying to help bridge the digital divide, so to reach more people you could both sign up for yourself but also bring along a community group to learn together and share the advice.

If you work in an organisation with clients who could benefit from learning about the digital world, please do share this session and encourage them to sign up or show them how the Zoom webinar process works. It's also a great session for organisations who provide digital inclusion support to service users. 

Join the webinar

 

AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group logoAbilityNet is working with BT Group to support people 65+ with getting online and using technology, such as:

- learning how to use email
- make video calls
- use online banking and book medical appointments

Sign up for Free BT Digital Skills sessions for people over 65 in your area. (Available to people in and around London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff.)

Further resources

Factsheets: Easy Read versions of free disability and technology factsheets now available

Access our Dementia and Technology resources

Workplace training: choose from a selection of online learning options for you and your team

How AbilityNet can Help

Everything you need to know about Virgin Media's Digital Voice switchover

Virgin Media logoHome phone services across the UK are changing – from older, less reliable copper wires to the newer fibre phone service. That’s why Virgin Media, alongside the whole industry, is updating its home phone services for all customers to make sure they are fit for the future. This is collectively known as ‘the digital voice switchover’. This means home phones will be plugged directly into WiFi Hubs. 

Digital Voice Switchover may also be referred to as ‘fibre phone line’, ‘fibre home phone service’, ‘digital voice’ or ‘IP voice’.

Find out more about Virgin Media's Digital Voice Switchover.

Rolling out Digital Voice

Virgin Media is switching customers over to its fibre phone network gradually, so when it is time to switch, customers will be contacted in lots of different ways, including via post and email.

Virgin Media urges customers to be alert to its messages so they don’t mistake these important comms for marketing messages.

The rollout of Digital Voice will also see Virgin Media reach out to its home phone customers to invite them to switch over voluntarily. Any customer who confirms they aren’t vulnerable – and don’t have any telecare or lifeline devices, like care or pendant alarms – will switch first, with extra support provided for those who need it.

If you’re a Virgin Media customer, it's important to let Virgin Media know if…

  • You have a telehealth device (like a care alarm, fall alarm or fall pendant) connected to your copper home phone line 
  • You live in an area without mobile signal
  • You don’t have access to a mobile phone
  • Anyone in your household is disabled, has an impairment, or has other accessibility needs

Extra support during the switchover will be available for customers noted above.

You can also contact AbilityNet if you are disabled or a senior citizen and need support with your digital devices - call our helpline on 0300 180 0028 or request help from an AbilityNet volunteer.

An older couple looking at a phone at a deskWhat to expect during the switch over

  • Depending on what support is needed, customers will either be offered an engineer visit who will handle the switch over or will be sent an adaptor so that they can manage the digital landline switchover themselves, with all the information needed to swap their services.
  • Basic phone handsets (either corded phones or cordless DECT phones) are expected to work with the new fibre phone line – however, some customers that have more complex connected devices, such as telehealth devices (like a care alarm, fall alarm or fall pendant) should contact device providers to ensure compatibility.

What customers need to know after the switch over 

  • Home phone services will be supplied over the broadband network and will need electricity to work, unlike the existing copper phone line. Home phone services will not work if the WiFi Hub and/or WiFi is switched off – so it’s important customers always leave this on. 
  • For customers who are handling the migration themselves, home phones won’t work until the adaptor has been connected to the phone and Hub. Customers need to look out for communications from Virgin Media on which date to do this.
  • Disabled customers, people with a long-term illness or accessibility needs that means they rely on their home phone, and customers without access to a mobile phone can get an Emergency Backup Line, at no extra cost. They should reach out to Virgin Media right away to let it know about their situation. 
  • In the unlikely event there’s a power cut or a network disruption, customers won’t be able to make or receive calls on their home phone. Virgin Media always recommends having a mobile phone handy – or will provide an Emergency Back Up Line, which will work in a power cut, to those who need it.
  • The Emergency Back Up Line will allow customers to make voice calls, but won’t back up anything else plugged into the phone line. If you rely on a care alarm or pendant, for example, please check with your alarm provider that this has its own back up (eg SIM card) and can work independently in a power cut. 
AbilityNet, in partnership with BT Group logoFree webinar: Dementia, AI and simple tech tweaks to help - with Alzheimer's Society

Join us online on Wednesday 10 July 2024 between 1pm - 2pm BST to learn how technology can provide a helping hand to disabled people and older people with dementia and their carers.



Join the webinar

How AbilityNet can help you with tech for free

If you're over 65 years of age and looking to build your skills, AbilityNet offers free digital skills sessions in areas in and around London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff. We can also help you if you live outside these areas - contact us for support.

Trainers can build something bespoke for your group or for an individual and run sessions including:

  • Getting to know your Smartphone or Tablet
  • Staying Safer Online
  • Getting started with Email
  • Using Social Media, e.g. Facebook
  • Online entertainment, e.g. watching TV online
  • How to access Public Services e.g. Gov.UK
  • How to make a video call
  • How to manage your health online
  • How to bank online

Book a free session

 

How to boost your online skills: free learner factsheets

Make the most out of life in a digital world using this range of factsheets and other resources build online skills and confidence.  


Download your factsheets
 

How AbilityNet can help

Does your organisation need Disability Awareness Training?
Increase your confidence in meeting the accessibility needs of your diverse workforce (and customers!) by attending our Disability Awareness Training and offering it to your team. Learn from disabled people who share their experiences in our compelling set of courses.
 

 

The dangers of AI-generated fake news for the UK general election

As the UK approaches its next general election, the air is thick with political discourse, campaign promises, and, in some cases, misinformation. The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) has introduced a new dimension to the creation and dissemination of fake news, posing significant threats to democratic processes. AI-generated fake news can spread rapidly and convincingly, making it increasingly difficult for the public to discern truth from fiction.

Fake News the word, written out in scrabble lettersThe Rise of AI-Generated Fake News

Generative AI, particularly advanced models like OpenAI's GPT-4, Google’s Gemini or Amazon’s Claude have made it possible to create highly sophisticated images and even videos that could be used in fake news.

These AI systems can produce text that is coherent, contextually relevant, and tailored to specific audiences. This capability has been exploited to craft fake news that can influence public opinion and electoral outcomes.

A notable example of AI-generated misinformation occurred in the United States during the 2020 presidential election. AI was used to create deepfake videos and false narratives that were disseminated across social media platforms, causing confusion and distrust. Similarly, in India, AI-generated fake news has been used to incite unrest and further spread distrust, illustrating the global nature of this threat.
 

AbilityNet, in partnership with BT Group logoFree webinar: Dementia, AI and simple tech tweaks to help - with Alzheimer's Society

Join us online on Wednesday 10 July 2024 between 1pm - 2pm BST to learn how technology can provide a helping hand to disabled people and older people with dementia and their carers.



Join the webinar

The Impact on the UK General Election

In the UK, the potential for AI-generated fake news to disrupt the electoral process shouldn’t be discounted. As political parties ramp up their campaigns, the risk of malicious actors using AI to generate and spread fake news increases. These actors may aim to manipulate public opinion, discredit political opponents, or create division among voters.

Fake news can take many forms, from fabricated stories about candidates to manipulated images and videos. For instance, an AI-generated deepfake video of a political leader making controversial statements could go viral, swaying public perception and potentially affecting the election outcome. Additionally, AI can be used to create convincing fake articles that appear to be from reputable news sources, further muddying the waters.

Graphic showing faces of Robin Christopherson, Tamsin Keyes and Michael Vermeersch plus details of when the webinar is taking place (also detailed in body text of news piece)

In our popular webinar earlier this year, we discussed How can AI help disabled people? with Robin Christopherson MBE, Microsoft, and Headway the brain injury association we discussed the myriad of ways AI (Artificial Intelligence) can improve your life! 

The implications for Disabled People

People with disabilities often face unique challenges that can make them more vulnerable to scams and fake news. For example:

  • Many disabled people or those with impairments are older and may be less digitally-‘street-wise’ – being less aware of the malpractices rife throughout the digital world.
  • People with cognitive impairments may find it more difficult to critically evaluate information. This may increase their susceptibility to fake news and scams.
  • People with a vision impairment may not be able to spot flaws in AI-generated fakes.
  • Social isolation can make disabled individuals more likely to engage with online content, including fake news, as a way to connect with the world.

Thus the disabled community may find themselves at particular risk. 

Given the sophisticated nature of AI-generated fake news, traditional fact-checking methods are often insufficient. This is where innovative solutions like Ask Silver come into play.

Read our free factsheet: What is AI and how do I use it? about how you can embrace the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) in your daily activities.

Introducing Ask Silver

Ask Silver logoAsk Silver (www.ask-silver.com) is a service designed to help users navigate the complex landscape of misinformation. It offers several features that can be particularly effective in combating AI-generated fake news:

  1. Warning About Known Scams or Fake News: Ask Silver keeps an updated database of known scams and fake news stories. Users can access this information to stay informed about the latest threats and avoid falling victim to them.
  2. Screenshot Submission: If users come across suspicious content, they can submit screenshots to Ask Silver for analysis. The service leverages advanced AI and human expertise to determine the authenticity of the content and provide feedback to the user.
  3. Educational Resources: Ask Silver provides resources to educate users about the signs of fake news and scams, empowering them to make informed decisions and recognize misinformation.
  4. Ask Silver may be particularly beneficial for disabled people by providing a reliable source of information and tools to verify the authenticity of content. The ability to submit screenshots for analysis can be a valuable resource for those who may struggle to assess the credibility of information on their own.

Initiatives to help combat the risks of AI

As the UK general election approaches, the possibility of AI-generated fake news looms large. The ability of AI to create convincing and rapid-spreading misinformation poses a significant risk to the democratic process. 

For disabled people, who may be particularly vulnerable to misinformation, initiatives such as Ask Silver provide invaluable services that can help protect them from the dangers of fake news and scams.

As we navigate this complex digital age, leveraging such innovative solutions is crucial to maintaining the integrity of our electoral processes and safeguarding everyone – and in-particular our most vulnerable groups - from the perils of fake news

Book cost-effective training for all
Teach your staff about important accessibility and inclusion topics: Browse our training catalogue for inspiration.
 

How to report fake news or scams

There are other methods by which you can report fake news or potential scams.

Reporting Fake News

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)

  • Phishing Emails: Suspicious emails can be forwarded to the NCSC’s reporting service at report@phishing.gov.uk.
  • Online Reporting Tool: The NCSC provides an online tool to report cyber incidents, including those involving fake news, through their official website.

Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB)

  • Fraud and Cyber Crime: Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. Individuals can report scams, including those spread through fake news, by visiting the Action Fraud website or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Ofcom

  • Broadcast and Online Content: The Office of Communications (Ofcom) regulates the content of TV, radio, and video-on-demand services. Complaints about misinformation in these media can be submitted through the Ofcom website.

Reporting Scams

Action Fraud

  • General Scams: As mentioned, Action Fraud is the main body for reporting scams. Reports can be made online or by phone.

Citizens Advice

  • Scams and Consumer Issues: Citizens Advice offers a helpline (0808 223 1133) and an online reporting tool for scams and consumer issues. Their Scams Action service provides guidance and support.

Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)

  • The ICO handles data protection and privacy issues, which can intersect with fake news and scams, particularly those involving data breaches and misuse of personal information.

Further resources

AbilityNet Live! Free events about technology and disability

AbilityNet live logo

AbilityNet is a series of live online events to help share useful information for disabled people and their carers and employers.

See below for details, as well as recordings of past events

Calendar

Free webinar: European Accessibility Act: One year to go. Are you ready?

  • On Wednesday 3 July at 1pm BST

Register for the EAA webinar

Free webinar: Dementia and simple tech tweaks that can help

  • On Wednesday 10 July at 1pm BST

Register for the dementia webinar

Watch this space or sign up for our newsletter to receive notifications about our latest webinars and training courses.

 

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Our affordable online training courses can help you and your team.

Past events

View a recording of the event, plus slides and notes including 

 Tips for using tech at home

How AI can help disabled people

  • Delivered Wednesday 17 April 

Digital discovery at any age: your guide to the online world

  • Delivered Wednesday 28 February 

Tech Tools for Dyslexia at work, in education and at home

  • Delivered Tuesday 3 October 2023

Top tips for boosting your digital skills

  • Delivered Tuesday 12 September 2023

How volunteering can benefit you or your organisation

  • Delivered Tuesday 6 June 2023

Multiple Sclerosis: How technology can support you

  • Delivered Tuesday 25 April 2023

Top tips for how tech can help with hearing loss

  • Delivered Tuesday 20 September 2022

Cost of living crisis and how digital can help

  • Delivered Tuesday 20 September 2022

Technology to help people with sight loss - with RNIB and Envision

  • Delivered Tuesday 28 June 2022

How technology can help people with Parkinson's

  • Delivered 8 March 2022

Top tips for dyslexia and technology

  • Delivered 5 October 2021

Smart homes, tech tips for independent living at home

  • Delivered 01 June 2021

Technology and dementia: a creative approach

  • Delivered 1pm, 25 May 2021

Technology help for people with learning disabilities

  • Delivered 1pm, 27 April 2021

Tablets for seniors, keep in touch with loved ones during Covid-19

  • Delivered, 26 January 2021

How to spot an online scam and avoid it: Stay safe online

  • Delivered 24 November 2020

Using tech to tackle loneliness and isolation

  • Delivered 30 June 2020

Meeting neurodiverse needs during the pandemic

  • Delivered 16 June 2020

Working with neurodiversity, is the new normal here to stay?

  • Delivered 09 June 2020

How disabled people can use Alexa and other smart speakers to stay connected

  • Delivered 19 May

How to take care of your mental health while working or studying from home

  • Delivered 12 May 2020

How to access online learning to stay motivated and learn new skills

  • Delivered 5 May 2020

How to stay safe online

  • Delivered 27 April 2020

How to find local support groups online

  • Delivered 14 April 2020

How to run accessible online meetings - Zoom, Teams and more

  • Delivered 8 April 2020

How tech can help you stay connected 

  • Delivered 7 April 2020
     

Digital accessibility tips

Free webinar: Inside the Google Accessibility Discovery Centre

  • Delivered: Wednesday 5 June 2024

Free webinar: Building Your Accessibility Capability: In-house Skills vs External Suppliers

  • Delivered: Tuesday 19 March 2024

Free webinar: What's new in WCAG 2.2 

  • Delivered: Wednesday 31 January 2024

Free webinar: Attitudes to accessibility are changing - a global perspective

  • Delivered: Tuesday 31 October 2023

Free webinar: How will Artificial Intelligence change accessibility testing?

  • Delivered: Tuesday 26th September 2023

Free webinar: How to improve accessibility in procurement

  • Delivered: Tuesday 27th June 2023

Free webinar: Inclusive employee experience in the finance and insurance sector with Lloyds Banking Group

  • Delivered: Tuesday 28 March 2023

Don't disable me: how organisational culture and equipment enables inclusion

  • Delivered: Tuesday 18 October 2022

How accessibility improves SEO

  • Delivered Tuesday 27 September 2022

Inclusive and Accessible Learning and Working in a Post Covid World

  • Delivered Tuesday 19 July 2022

How leaders can build a culture of empathy

  • Delivered 24 May 2022 

Employee support and adjustments in the age of Covid

  • Delivered 26 April 2022

Don't disable me: How you can avoid creating barriers for disabled people

  • Declivered 8 February 2022

How to get online for FREE or at a low-cost: digital divide

  • Delivered 17 January 2022

How to recognise and promote a neurodiverse workforce

  • Delivered 14 December 2021

How to create an inclusive workplace

  • Delivered 28 September 2021

The Business Case for Accessibility

  • Delivered 20 July 2021

Introduction to digital accessibility

  • Delivered 01 July 2021

How to excel at inclusive onboarding and induction in the workplace

  • Delivered 29 June 2021

Dementia-friendly design, expert tips for accessible websites

  • Delivered 18 May 2021

How to do inclusive, accessible recruitment 

  • Delivered 2 March 2021

How to do accessible social media

  • Delivered 20 October 2020

How technology can help people with dyslexia

  • Delivered 29 September 2020

Accessibility Anti-Patterns

  • Delivered 18 August 2020

Accessible design tips for a competitive edge

  • Delivered 14 July 2020
     

Accessibility Insights with key practitioners working in accessibility

Accesssibility Insights with David Padmore and Matt Simpson of ITV

  • Tuesday 13 December 2022

Accessibility Insights with Natalie Tucker of Spotify

  • Tuesday 1 November 2022

Accessibility Insights with Heather Dowdy of Netflix

  • Date: Tuesday 04 October 2022

Accessibility Insights with Hector Minto of Microsoft

  • Date: Tuesday 13 September 2022

Accessibility Insights with Xbox at Microsoft

  • Delivered Tuesday 7 December 2021

Accessibility Insights with Intuit

  • Delivered Tuesday 9 November 2021

Accessibility Insights with Workbridge

  • Delivered 12 October 2021

Accessibility Insights with Funka and the IAAP

  • Delivered 7 September 2021

Accessibility Insights with British Heart Foundation

  • Delivered 10 August 2021

Accessibility Insights with the UK Government

  • Delivered 06 July 2021

Accessibility Insights with Larry Goldberg of Verizon Media

  • Delivered 08 June 2021

Accessibility Insights with GAAD co-founders

  • Delivered 4 May 2021

Accessibility Insights with the BBC

  • Delivered 6 April 2021

Accessibility Insights with Apple: February 2021

  • Delivered 16 February 2021

Accessibility Insights with the European Disability Forum: January 2021

  • Delivered 19 January 2021

Accessibility Insights with Malin Rygg of the Norwegian Digitalisation Agency

  • Delivered 8 December 2020

Accessibility Insights with Christopher Patnoe of Google

  • Delivered 10 November 2020

Accessibility Insights with Bryn Anderson of Sainsbury's

  • Delivered 6 October 2020

Accessibility Insights with Paul Smyth of Barclays

  • Delivered 8 September 2020

Accessibility Insights with Neil Milliken

  • Delivered 11 August 2020

Accessibility Insights with Microsoft's Jenny Lay-Flurrie

  • Delivered 21 July 2020
     

HE and Public Sector accessibility

Free Webinar: Higher Education PSBAR Accessibility Requirements

  • Delivered 7 February 2023

HE/Public Sector Update: Addressing Autism, Dyslexia, and Neurodivergence in education and work

  • Delivered 22 March 2022

HE/Public Sector Update with the University of Southampton

  • Delivered 2 November 2021

HE/Public Sector update: Accessibility dos and don'ts with Susi Miller 

  • Delivered 22 June 2021

HE/Public Sector update: Promoting Accessibility, with University of Derby

  • Delivered 13 April 2021

HE/Public Sector Update: How Cardiff Metropolitan University meets accessibility targets

  • Delivered 23 February 2021

HE/Public Sector Update: Winning hearts and minds at University of Cambridge

  • Delivered 1 December 2020

HE/Public Sector Update: Excelling in Digital Accessibility at Open University

  • Delivered 22 September 2020

HE/Public Sector Update: Is your Accessibility Statement ready yet?

  • Delivered 23 July 2020

HE Update and Accessibility Maturity Model for Higher and Further Education

  • Delivered 27 May

 

Looking for more help?

How to contact us

How to get free help from AbilityNet if you're an unpaid carer

Carers Week logo

Carers Week, this year taking place 10-16  June, is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the invaluable work by unpaid carers. 

If you're an unpaid carer of a relative, friend or neighbour and looking for help with technology, AbilityNet's range of FREE services provide support for older people and disabled people, and their carers.

We can help you and yours this Carers Week.

Six ways carers can access free tech help

Technology can help older and disabled people in a range of ways, whether you or the person you care for are feeling isolated, or need help with a particular disability.

1. Get tech help from an AbilityNet volunteer

Jordan Rosser standing smiling outside houseAs a carer, you may also be disabled yourself. AbilityNet can help you with your technology questions or issues, or you can refer the person you care for to AbilityNet. Our network of more than 450+ volunteers will offer free computer and technology support and help adapt your existing technology to suit your needs, or suggest solutions that will help to empower individuals. 

You may have a problem with a computer virus, need some help installing broadband or be confused about updates or error messages.

Our friendly volunteers are disclosure checked and can assist you in person at your home, by phone or over the internet. They have relevant IT skills and will be able to help with most major computer systems, laptops, tablet devices and smartphones. 


Call our helpline on 0300 180 0028 during UK office hours to access our free volunteer help at home or online

2. Access our FREE factsheets

We have a range of FREE factsheets with information on various topics, including assistive technology and for people living with specific impairments and conditions. Many of our factsheets are available in Easy Read format too.

Access factsheets on useful topics including:

Our factsheet “Technology for Seniors” also highlights devices designed specifically with older people in mind.

You may also be interested in our archive of blogs, including Supporting people with dementia through technology innovations

Alzheimer's Society logoFree webinar: Dementia, AI and simple tech tweaks to help - with Alzheimer's Society

Join a FREE webinar on Wednesday 10 July 2024 between 1pm - 2pm BST to learn how technology, including AI, can provide a helping hand to people with dementia or cognitive disabilities.

In this free webinar, expert speakers from AbilityNet will be joined by guest speakers from Alzheimer's Society and Recreo VR, to offer their advice for navigating the digital world with Alzheimer's disease, dementia or cognitive issues.


Join the webinar

 

3. Get funding for technology you need

Two women looking at computer and smiling over breakfast tableDespite falling prices, the cost of a suitable computer system is still beyond the means of many disabled people, especially those on a low income.

Download our free factsheet: Finding funding for an adapted computer system for information and advice on how disabled people may obtain alternative funding for assistive technology that could make a significant difference to their quality of life.

4. Attend our free webinars for top tips

With topics ranging from sight loss, hearing loss, dyslexia, stroke awareness and more, our free webinars offer practical tips and insights into various disabilities, with expert advice and guest panellists.

Check out our webinar recordings archive to help with tech and other topics connected with caring responsibilities.

5. Learn how to use smart tech to help at home

Older man looking at device and smiling with younger woman also looking at phoneOne of our AbilityNet FREE webinars explored how to use smart tech at home. Find out what smart tech is, explore smart tech solutions including smart speakers, and learn how to use the assistive technology that is included within the smart devices.

Watch the recording on YouTube.

6. Use built-in assistive technology features

Visit AbilityNet's My Computer My Way to help unlock the useful features that are available on many devices including smartphones, tablets and computers, and assistive technology.

This FREE tool helps you adjust settings within multiple operating systems across a range of devices, including Apple Mac and iOS, Android devices, Windows and Chromebook. Search by impairment (cognitive issues, for example) or by what you want to do to help with issues you face, or to assist the person you care for (switch on captions, for example). 

How AbilityNet can help

Learn essential digital skills for free in Central London

Navigating the digital world can be overwhelming, especially if you're unsure about searching for information online, which websites are trustworthy, or understanding your digital device.

Steve Mersereau smilingIf you're 65 years old or over, live in London, and are eager to improve your digital skills, AbilityNet can help!

Join AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group for free Senior Skills Sessions in Central London.

Expert Digital Skills Trainer, Steve Mersereau, will be your guide at these engaging sessions. 

What can I expect during the sessions?

The sessions are designed to address any tech concerns you might have, and empower you with the skills needed to navigate the digital world with confidence

Our trainer is dedicated to providing personalised assistance, answering any questions you may have, and helping you become more comfortable with your digital device and the online world.

Where and when are the sessions being held?

Join the free digital skills sessions at AbilityNet London office:

Friday 28th June, 13:00 – 15:00 - An Introduction to the Internet
Friday 5th July, 13:00 – 15.00 - An Introduction to Smart phones and Tablets
Friday 12th July, 13:00 – 15:00 - How to Stay Safer Online

AbilityNet London office address: 5-11 Worship Street, London, EC2A 2BH

Closest train station (15 minute walk): Liverpool Street Station - All Elizabeth Line stations are step-free from station to platform.

Closest underground station (7 minute walk): Moorgate

Google Map of AbilityNet's London office

Free webinar: Dementia, AI and simple tech tweaks to help - with Alzheimer's Society

Alzheimer's Society logoJoin a FREE webinar on Wednesday 10 July 2024 between 1pm - 2pm BST to learn how technology, including AI, can provide a helping hand to people with dementia or cognitive disabilities.

In this free webinar, expert speakers from AbilityNet will be joined by guest speakers from Alzheimer's Society and Recreo VR, to offer their advice for navigating the digital world with Alzheimer's disease, dementia or cognitive issues.


Join the webinar


How do I book my place?

Email digitalskills@abilitynet.org.uk with your name and phone number and our team will be in touch to confirm your place.

You can also call our helpline on 0300 180 0028* during UK office hours to register.

What previous session attendees say:

•    "At 93 your service was and is of great help to me and my generation" 
•    "I was so impressed with the trainer, who listened and really helped a lot"
•    "Very easy to ask questions and receive simple answers"
•    "It is really the course I needed. I learn something new every week"
•    "It is very excellent. It gives me more hope to do some things that I wouldn't do before"

I don't live in London, how can I get digital skills help?
Older man and woman smiling looking at laptop

AbilityNet, in partnership with BT Group logo

If you're over 65 years of age and looking to build your skills, we offer free digital skills sessions in areas in and around London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff. 

Trainers can build something bespoke for your group or for an individual and run sessions including:

  • Getting to know your Smartphone or Tablet
  • Staying Safer Online
  • Getting started with Email
  • Using Social Media, e.g. Facebook
  • Online entertainment, e.g. watching TV online
  • How to access Public Services e.g. Gov.UK
  • How to make a video call
  • How to manage your health online
  • How to bank online

Book a free session

 

How to boost your online skills: free learner factsheets

Make the most out of life in a digital world using this range of factsheets and other resources build online skills and confidence.  


Download your factsheets
 


How AbilityNet can help

*Please note: calls to our helpline number cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number and count towards any inclusive minutes in the same way as 01 and 02 calls, and AbilityNet does not receive any money from these calls

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