What are the best apps for managing multiple sclerosis?

This blog has been updated! Originally published 11/11/19. Amended 11/05/23


An estimated 130,000 people in the UK live with multiple sclerosis (MS)*.

The condition affects the nerves in the brain and the spinal cord. It can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including balance and coordination problems, eyesight and hearing issues, fatigue, altered sensations and cognitive issues. Those with the condition can also have long periods of remission with few symptoms.

Smartphone showing set of different apps on home screenMS charities, including the MS Trust and the MS Society, believe self-management of MS can benefit people living with the condition.

There is a variety of apps which can help with self-management. Apps are available for:

From tracking your medications to meeting others to find support, game apps to boost cognition, mindfulness options to increase calmness and fitness apps which could help you maintain health and do some suitable exercise on your good days.

All apps are available for both Android and Apple unless otherwise stated. And, all apps are free unless otherwise stated, with occasional subscription options for more features.

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Five best apps for self-management of multiple sclerosis (MS)

1. My MS Buddy

Created by consumer health website Healthline, this app offers one-on-one chats, group discussions for advice, support and the opportunity to find out the latest news and research around MS.

Each weekday the app creators lead a live discussion on subjects including community, wellness, treatments, daily living, inspiration and MS and career. You can be matched with members based on your treatment and interests and do instant messaging.

Download MS Buddy/Bezzy MS for Android

Download MS Buddy/Bezzy MS for iOs

2. My MS Team

Support group setting - three people sitting on chairs in large hall, looking solemnThis is the app for My MSTeam, a social network and support group for people living with MS. It offers emotional support from others and insights about treatments and therapies. The company behind it is based in the US, but there are people registered from various UK locations who are looking to meet up.

Find out more about online forums for people living with MS.

You can post and follow photos and updates, share your daily ups and downs, give and receive hugs, search the Q&A section for help and also find local people to meet.

Download MS Team for Android

Download MS Team for iOs

3. MS Focus Radio

two women in bright studio talking into professional radio microphonesUS-based MS Focus (The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation) is a nonprofit organisation that prioritises helping people with MS, and their families maintain quality of life. MS Focus has an interest in wellbeing.

The MS Focus radio app is the online radio its hosts and includes interesting and useful content available, which is accessible 24 hours a day. There’s a good variety of programmes, such as how to use breathwork and yoga to help with brain fog, practising emotional self-care, and how to get the most out of patient-centred care.

Download MS Focus Radio for iOs

4. Health Log

This Android App helps you track health and different symptoms and conditions of MS. With each entry, you can record the severity of the pain, location, potential triggers, treatments and any relief provided. You can then view statistics over time and use to show to health professionals if needed.

Download Health Log for Android

Best Apps for MS-related fatigue

Fatigue, experienced as overwhelming tiredness, is a common symptom of MS. Some people find that it is the symptom that affects them most, but there are ways to manage it and minimise its effects on your life. 

We’ve listed a couple of apps here which might help. 

MS Energise

Person with head slumped on keyboard at desk in office environment, showing she is tiredReleased two years ago, MS Energise was created by researchers at the Universities of Auckland in New Zealand and Bournemouth in the UK.

The app supports the management of MS fatigue using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach. CBT approaches for MS fatigue have been developed, trialled in controlled studies, and found effective in MS fatigue by those who created the app. Currently only available on Apple devices.

We'd give it kudos for minimal scrolling needed to be easier for users with physical health issues or disabilities.

Download MS Energise for iOS

Mental Fatigue app

A simple app for charting fatigue levels and changes to energy over time. With the app, you can generate charts and lists to provide an overview of your fatigue. Created by independent developer Jan-Olof Karlsson.

Download Mental Fatigue app for iOS

Download Mental Fatigue app for Android

Best Apps to boost cognition if you have MS

MS can affect cognitive function. If you’re looking to boost your cognitive skills, these apps with various games, memory and brain training options might help.

There are apps available for iOS, and Android that can help with memory training, including spatial training and memory.

NeuroNation

This app offers memory training and tests to improve focus. It was awarded AOK Leonardo Health Prize for digital prevention and has more than 250,000 mainly five-star reviews on the App and Play stores (though some reviews complained the app isn’t suitable for those who are colour blind).

NeuroNation fans describe the app as fun. 

It performs an analysis of your strengths and potentials and creates a personal training plan. 

There are 27 exercises on 250 levels.

It is founded by the NeuroNation team comprising IT experts in collaboration with the division of experimental psychology and neuropsychology at the Free University in Berlin.

Download NeuroNation for iOS 

Download NeuroNation for Android

Elevate Brain Training Games

The app offers personalised brain training programmes designed to improve attention, speaking skills, processing speed, memory and math skills.

One reviewer wrote: “It’s only been three days, but the words section has made a huge impact on my life. I suffer from brain fog and find it difficult to talk, but this game has brought me quite a bit of relief.”

Download Elevate for iOS

Download Elevate for Android

Train your brain

This Android-only app has had more than one million downloads and achieves 5-star reviews from some previous users.

The app is designed to focus on memory and spatial thinking and improve concentration. While there are only seven games available, those on offer present a variety of training. 

It is created by Developer Grove FX.

Download Train Your Brain for Android

Best apps for students and young people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

MS sadly can affect young people of University age.

While there are limited apps explicitly aimed at young people with MS, there are lots of apps which could help this age group with peer support features and fun challenges. 

Here are a few of our suggestions.

What’s Up

What’s up uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) methods to help people cope with depression, anxiety, stress, and more. There is a Get Grounded page, which contains over 100 different questions to pinpoint what you’re feeling, and a Thinking Patterns page, which helps with reducing negative thoughts. Developed by Australian-based company Jackson Tempra.

Download What'sUp for iOS

Download What'sUp for Android


Super Better

Super Better is a top-rated app with more than 5,000 five star reviews on the Play Store. It’s fun and creative with the ability to create and customise your quests, challenges, and power-ups (such as hug yourself, or text someone to say thank you for something - which can make people feel better).

It’s designed for those with anxiety and depression, chronic pain and other conditions as an aid to build resilience and achieve goals. The focus is on cultivating your inner superhero. 

The app was developed by Jane McGonigal author of the book Super Better.

Download Super Better for IOS

Download Super Better for Android

notOK

notOK is a free app developed by a struggling teenager (and her teen brother) for teenagers. The app features a large, red button that can be activated to let close friends, family and their support network know help is needed.

Users can add up to five trusted contacts as part of their support group, so when they hit the digital panic button, a message, along with their current GPS location is sent to their contacts.

The message reads: “Hey, I’m not OK! Please call, text, or come find me.”

Download notOK for Android

Mind Shift

MindShift CBT app developed by the organisation Anxiety Canada has specific programmes for young people. The app uses strategies based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help users feel better and less overwhelmed. On offer are thought-journals, coping cards, chill zone and confidence-building exercises. This app appears to be recommended by quite a few therapists, judging by the reviews.

Download Mind Shift for iOS

Download Mind Shift for Android

AV1 Robot app

The AV1 app robot is designed for young people with long term health conditions who sometimes struggle to get to school or college.

The small white robot can be present in the classroom and act as the eyes and ears of the student. The student can view what the robot sees through its eyes using their device at home.

They can control the robot's movements through their phone or tablet, and speak to classmates through the microphone on their device. This app/ device is typically paid for by schools.

It is developed by the company No Isolation.

Download AV1 for iOS

Download AV1 for Android

* MS Society, accessed May 2023.

Visit My Computer My Way: a free interactive guide to all the accessibility features built into current desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

How AbilityNet can help people living with Multiple Sclerosis

Amazon turn Veterans Centre into Alexa-enabled ‘smart centre’

Blind Veterans UK, in collaboration with Amazon, has unveiled a new ‘smart’ system at its centre in Llandudno, Wales which uses Alexa devices to give veterans more independence, and carers new ways to communicate.Entrance lobby of the Llandudno Blind Veterans UK Centre

The system, called Alexa Smart Properties, has been installed by Amazon with help from voice-skill developers Vocala. It enables the visually-impaired veterans to get assistance with orientation around the centre, access information, entertainment, and specific services such as lunch menus, and to call reception with Alexa-to-Alexa calling – all  using only their voice. 
It also benefits the care team by enabling them to make announcements, voice and video calls to other Alexa-enabled devices throughout the centre.

“Blind Veterans UK is one of the first organisations in the UK to install Alexa Smart Properties and we are really excited about the benefits it will bring to the residents and the care team”, Said Meryem Tom, Director. Alexa Enterprise EU.

“Our support to Blind Veterans UK allows us to demonstrate Amazon's commitment to all people with disabilities and our military communities around the globe,” said John Quintas, Director of Inclusive Communities at Amazon. “Our Alexa technology improves the quality of life for veterans by helping to make their lives more independent, accessible and fun. We are honoured to support Blind Veterans UK and to help transform their centre in Llandudno.”

Blind veterans UK – looking ahead through tech

Blind veterans UK provides rehabilitation, training and support services. They show that, with the right skills and use of technology, being independent and living a rich and fulfilling life can once again be a reality for those with sight loss.

“Having identified the need to make our centres truly centres of excellence, including in technological advancement, we reached out to Amazon Web Services to find solutions.,” said Kathy Boardman, Blind Veterans UK Llandudno Centre Manager. “We’re very excited to have Alexa as an integral part of the team at our Centres for Wellbeing.”

“Supporting our blind veterans with access to information, navigating their way around the site, making informed decisions, and interacting with others will be life-changing for everyone, especially the person adjusting to a vision impairment and, with our support, rebuilding their life after sight loss.”

Harnessing technology has always been part of the Blind Veterans UK ethos and the Blind Veterans Smart Centre, powered by Alexa Smart Properties, will further enhance blind veterans’ experiences and help them be even more independent. It does this in three ways:

  • Orientation – A blind veteran will be able to self-orientate within any area of the centre by asking Alexa. This includes getting from point A to point B and locating objects within a specific room.
  • Access to information - A blind veteran will be able to find information such as what’s for lunch, fire safety procedures and access news on the charity and its history by asking Alexa.
  • Access to services - A blind veteran will be able to find out what events are scheduled and listen to radio by asking Alexa.

Find out more about the empowering potential of Alexa

Alexa Accessibility Hub

The main place to go to find out about Alexa and her accessibility features is the Alexa Accessibility Hub

More AbilityNet resources

We have numerous articles on our site about how the family of Echo products are empowering people with disabilities – here’s the search results page for the term ‘Alexa’ – you’ll be amazed just how much top tips and news there is.

Alexa podcasts

If podcasts are more your thing, why not check out Dot to Dot – the daily five minute skill demo show - or The Echo Show – a weekly look at all things Alexa with myself and excellent co-host Shaun Preece.

More resources from AbilityNet

AbilityNet volunteers crowned as Coronation Champions!

We are thrilled that not one but two of our AbilityNet tech volunteers, Jon Drake and Roy Biggs, have been selected as two of the 500 official outstanding Coronation Champions.

Jon Drake and daughter Abbie standing outside Buckingham Palace in the gardenThis follows a call out to the nation to nominate their volunteer heroes. Almost 5000 entries were received, with nominations made for individuals aged 14 up to 103.

The Coronation Champions Awards, launched by Royal Voluntary Service and supported by Her Majesty The Queen Consort, is all about celebrating the work of extraordinary volunteers across the UK.

A total of 500 volunteers were selected as Coronation Champions and have received an official Coronation Champions pin badge, a signed certificate from Their Majesties, and an invitation to one of the Coronation Celebrations. Jon attended the King’s Coronation Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on 3rd May, and Roy attended the Coronation concert on Sunday 7th May.

Jon took along his daughter Abbie to share in the celebrations, and they're pictured here enjoying the royal hospitality!

Congratulations to Jon and Roy, and also huge thanks go to Dave Power, our AbilityNet volunteer coordinator in Yorkshire, who nominated them for this award, for their work across Yorkshire helping older and disabled people to use their digital devices.

Jon Drake and daughter Abbie standing outside royal tent in Buckingham Palace grounds, both in formal clothingCommenting on becoming a Coronation Champion, Jon Drake said:

Buckingham Palace grounds with smartly dressed people walking around"Thanks so much to Dave for recognising my contribution, and for going to the time and trouble to nominate me. I'd like to also express my gratitude to RNIB and AbilityNet for their great support for volunteers. It’s a privilege to be able to help and support people through their volunteering opportunities."
 
The Coronation Champion gold coloured medal Jon received. Shown in a blue velvet display case."I’ve been volunteering for several years, so the award itself was an unexpected but delightful surprise. And the garden party was a fantastic experience - especially coming as it did just a couple of days before the Coronation."

Roy Biggs enjoyed performances from Paloma Faith, Lionel Ritchie and more at the Coronation Concert. He also tells us that, in honour of his award, he and 22 other award winners have also received an invitation from Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, to join him for tea and cake in June. 

Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service said: “We were completely blown away by the response to the Community Champions Awards and the huge volume of amazing nominees put forward. Our judges had a tough job selecting just 500 Champions from an array of thousands of inspirational individuals, who all deserve to be recognised and commended. “
 
“Each of our Coronation Champions displayed a commitment and contribution that far exceeds any expectation and we’re overjoyed to honour and thank them during this exciting point in history.”

Find out more about the awards.

How to help AbilityNet

Many older people and disabled people experience difficulties with their technology, and can’t find the support they need.

Could you, like Jon, Roy and Dave, help people with their tech? Our amazing volunteers provide one-to-one technology support remotely and through home visits. A great way to support AbilityNet is to join our network of 350+ volunteers across the UK. Get involved today!

Become a volunteer

Further resources:

AbilityNet provides digital aid to Ukrainian refugees in United Way UK project

Middle aged man and teenager smiling holding laptop in boxWe're delighted to share that AbilityNet has been taking part in a project alongside United Way UK to provide nearly 100 HP laptops to Ukrainian refugees currently living in the UK.

At Monex offices in London, the recipients were invited to collect their new devices, to help them to keep in touch with friends and family back in Ukraine, and navigate their new lives in the UK while the war is going on in their homeland.Mum, Dad and young male child smiling holding laptop in box, with staircase in the background

A woman and young boy smile holding laptop boxPictured here are just a few of the recipients with their laptops, including the Zborovska family (centre). 

Speaking at the Monex meet up, Liudmula Lysenko and Marina Pavlova shared how their laptop donation would make a difference to their life in the UK.

"We are really grateful for these wonderful laptops. I just started my GCSE course online and I am absolutely in need of this laptop, so thank you so much," said Liudmula. Marina agreed: "I just started to learn English and a laptop is really what I need for my growth. So thank you so much, you've done a very good job," she said.

Iryna Zinenko also received a laptop to use: "Thank you so much for your support and help for Ukrainians, because we've had a very difficult situation. This [laptop] is very useful for us, so thank you." Her teenage daughter also present shared how it would really help her prepare for her exams and do school work.

 

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AbilityNet volunteers set up devices

Man working on laptop in bright room"When approached about the project we felt it was a very worthwhile project to support. We are delighted that we’ve been able to support United Way UK on the delivery of this project. We’re really thankful to the volunteers for stepping up and supporting AbilityNet and United Way UK and the refugee families," says Chris Grant, Community Relationship Officer at AbilityNet.Stewart Mabon, AbilityNet volunteer sitting at table working on laptop

“The team at United Way UK is thrilled to have had the opportunity to work in partnership with AbilityNet on this vital project to bring connectivity in the UK to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. Digital poverty prevents those affected from working, studying and managing everyday life as well as from staying connected with loved ones – critical for refugees forced from their homes. We thank AbilityNet, HP and our colleagues at United Way in Germany who helped make this happen,” says Jane Hudson Jones, CEO at United Way UK. 

The devices were set up by a team of seven AbilityNet tech volunteers from across the UK (including Andrew Davies in Wales, and Stewart Mabon in Scotland, both pictured). 

AbilityNet has previously worked with United Way UK on other technology-related projects and so it brought the UK charity AbilityNet on board to help install software and check the devices to ensure they were set up to a good level, ready for use by the recipients. 

How to help AbilityNet

A great way to support AbilityNet is to join our network of 300+ volunteers across the UK.

Many older people and disabled people experience difficulties with their technology, and can’t find the support they need. Our amazing volunteers provide one-to-one technology support remotely and through home visits. Get involved today!

Become a volunteer

Further resources:

BT Group partnership boosts digital skills of older people

BT Group in partnership with AbilityNet logoAbilityNet and telecommunications company BT Group today announced a new partnership to help improve the digital skills of 4,000 older and digitally excluded people across the UK during 2023.

The UK-wide ‘Senior Skills Programme’ will deliver more than 1,000 group and one-to-one training sessions to those who need it most in regions across the UK.

Sessions will be available in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and London. The locations were chosen based on a growing demand for tech support among older people aged 65+ in these areas. 

Older people are keen to learn digital skills

BT Group’s research* shows that two thirds (65%) of older people think that you’re never too old to learn new skills, with almost half (49%) open to learning tech skills specifically.

AbilityNet male volunteer with older female client sitting at table in kitchen talkingBasic digital skills are now increasingly important for day-to-day life. Older people who are less familiar with digital devices risk losing access to key services like banking, shopping and health services, as well as software platforms that keep people connected.

Victoria Johnson, Social Impact Director at BT Group, said:

“Digital inclusion is about making sure everyone has access to the benefits that technology offers. This new partnership with AbilityNet, and the Senior Skills programme we are creating together, seeks to dispel the mystery of tech, build confidence and awareness of misinformation, and help make a digital native out of everyone in the UK, whatever their age.”

“BT Group is committed to supporting the older generation as they adapt to using digital tools and technology. The partnership with AbiltyNet will help reach our goal of an inclusive digital future for all.”

A digital world accessible to all

Sarah Brain, Free Services Manager at AbilityNet, said: “Our vision at AbilityNet is to create a digital world which is accessible to everyone. We’ve been helping older people and disabled people of any age with their technology for 25 years. 
 
“The partnership with BT Group will help meet our goal to support the digitally excluded in building their confidence online and diversifying their skill set, helping people across the UK to live more independent and fulfilled lives.”
 
The Senior Skills programme will also encourage older and digitally excluded people to learn more about and use basic online services and help with the switch from analogue to digital home phones.

Free training sessions: The basics of digital devices and online media
Join AbilityNet experts in May and June 2023 for free tech sessions to help digital novices use the internet and digital devices.

Training roll out

As part of the partnership, the digital skills training will be available in person and through online resources, with the goal of helping participants become more independent and able to manage day-to-day digital tasks.

AbilityNet is also very pleased to welcome 40 volunteers from BT Group who will help deliver the programme.

The partnership will also encourage anyone in need of boosting their digital skills to call AbilityNet's free tech helpline: 0800 048 7642 (open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm).

* Research carried out by OnePoll in October 2022 of 1500 people over 60 years of age in the UK.

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5 top tips for making nature and your websites more accessible

As the weather gets warmer and summer is on the horizon, getting outside and into nature is an absolute joy. For many, the first step to hitting the great outdoors might be doing some research about the area you plan to explore, and, for many disabled people who may have specific requirements, there can be barriers imposed to accessing this information online.  

In this blog, AbilityNet’s Head of Digital Inclusion Robin Christopherson, MBE outlines some straightforward steps to making websites more accessible.

Accessing the outdoorsView of countryside comprised of multiple fields bordered with trees, and a group of sheep in the foreground

Being blind, when we’re out and about in the great outdoors, I rely on a verbal description provided by a companion in order to gain some appreciation of nature’s stunning visuals. In the same way, I also rely on the accessibility of websites to ensure that I’m able to understand and use them.  

When planning to head out into the natural world, I want to be able to easily access information on the destination, and if planning on heading there myself, how I may be accommodated as a disabled visitor. If accessibility has not been factored into the creation of the website, it can make accessing nature all the more difficult.  

Accessible websites don’t just benefit blind users, but all people across the broad and beautiful spectrum of disabilities and impairments. So by making adjustments, you’ll be making your apps and websites extra usable for everyone - and you’ll meet your legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

How to make your websites inclusive

Here’s five simple, straightforward steps to help you make your website more accessible.
 

  1. Check the keyboard accessibility of your site
    People with little vision rely on keyboard access as they cannot easily see the mouse cursor on the screen. Sighted users with motor difficulties (such as Parkinson’s or a stroke) can find keyboard access simpler as well. Making your site accessible without using a mouse is a legal requirement, and something that will benefit many of your visitors.  

    Hiding your mouse and trying to access your site and all its options with only a keyboard can show how you're doing and how to improve this. In particular, make sure that each link and button gains a nice, visible focus as you tab through the page, and that that tabbing order is logical and doesn’t jump all over the place (making it difficult to follow). If you want to ‘click’ something with focus, that’s Enter or the spacebar.

  2. Ditch poor colour contract
    Low contrast text is difficult to read for everyone, particularly people with low vision. There are some useful tools that can help you check your contrast such as Tanaguru's Contrast Finder, this allows you to enter two different colours and check the contrast between them. It can also suggest alternatives if the colours have insufficient contrast. 

    Tools like the  Contrast Analyser from the Paciello Group can also help pick the right colours.  

    Hint: Trust your eyes too - it can be simple to spot offending text colours by eye, and then just verify them with the tool. This is best used early in the design process, so that issues can be addressed before the site goes live.

  3. Use a free accessibility checker
    The organisation WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind) provides a free, automated, online checker. This can give you quick feedback on some more technical issues on your website – e.g. if forms are correctly labelled so a blind person knows what info they need to enter. This is a great way to highlight issues during the development process.  

    It’s important to note that any automated testing can only cover a small subset of all possible accessibility issues. However it is a valuable technique when used alongside manual testing.

  4. Produce an accessibility page
    An Accessibility page provides the opportunity for organisations to inform visitors on what measures they have taken to make their site accessible. The page can offer people the chance to provide feedback on difficulties they experience when navigating your site. See AbilityNet's accessibility page for an example.  

    Getting feedback from people visiting your site is very valuable. By making it easier for users to feedback to you directly, you will benefit greatly by both demonstrating your commitment to improving your site, and being able to respond to individual issues as they aris

  5. Understand your audience and what they need from your site
    Knowing your expected audience and writing your copy accordingly will provide the most useful and inclusive experience to your site’s visitors. People come to websites to find information, or to carry out an action. It makes sense to make this process as easy as possible for people.  

    Using eco-jargon, say, may be fine for visitors with that background, but lay visitors may miss out. Good practise is to avoid jargon, or if it is necessary, provide a glossary.  

    Make use of headings, paragraphs and bulleted lists to break text up into meaningful sections. Make one key point per paragraph and use different methods to convey information. Some users will prefer to read text (like me), others will benefit from a video, others prefer a simplified or illustrated guide.

More resources from AbilityNet

what3words and the Tech4Good Awards

AbilityNet’s Mark Walker spoke with Giles Rhys Jones, Chief Marketing Officer at what3words to discuss the story behind it, how it has been used across the world, and how winning a Tech4Good Award benefited the company.

Profile pictures of Giles Rhys Jones and Mark WalkerThe AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards are back this year to celebrate a new cohort of people and organisations using tech to make the world a better place.

Since 2011, the Tech4Good Awards have recognised over a hundred winners, including what3words, an app that gives an address to everyone on the planet. 

The full discussion is now available as a podcast episode.

Play the full episode on Spotify 
Play the full episode on Apple Podcasts 

What's the story behind what3words?

what3words was born out of a desire to make navigation simpler and more effective. They identified that a street address alone was not accurate enough to locate specific locations such as building entrances, and was not available for large rural areas and communities in areas such as Favelas in Brazil. The world was divided into three-by-three-metre squares, and each of these was given a distinct combination of three words. 

what3words is used by businesses to improve customer experience and efficiency, by emergency services and NGOs to find and help people in need, and by individuals in their daily lives to make navigation easier, safer, and more efficient. 

Find out more about what3words

How did winning a Tech4Good award support what3words?

During the podcast, Giles Rhys Jones highlighted three key benefits of entering and winning a Tech4Good Award was beneficial:

1. Refining your elevator pitch

The Tech4Good Awards offer the opportunity to “focus very tightly on your proposition and how you sell it”, says Jones, and "getting your elevator pitch down very, very tightly, was a really, really good exercise to go through.” 

2. Meeting like minded people and businesses

By bringing together a cohort of businesses, individuals, charities, and government bodies that are using technology to make the world a better place, is “a really good way to one meet like-minded people and two kind of chat through start-up life, which can be a bit of a lonely place.” 

3. Presenting the product to people who could use it

“What better way to get in front of new innovative companies and large businesses who are trying to do good in the world than to be part of a tech for good award show. Because all those organisations could actually use what3words in their own businesses.”

Enter the Tech4Good Awards NOW

The awards are free to enter, and entries are open until 5 May 2023. 

Entries are open to anyone, anywhere in the world using tech to make the world a better place, including individuals, businesses, charities, social enterprises, government bodies, and more. 

Enter the Tech4Good Awards

 

How to win a Tech4Good Award

Our how to win a Tech4good Award Webinar provided the chance to meet a past winner, and offered some useful pointers on what we’re looking for at the awards,


More resources from AbilityNet

Tech4Good Awards 2023 now open for nominations

AbilityNet’s Tech4Good Awards are back! Since we started in 2011 we've celebrated over 100 amazing people and organisations who use digital tech to make the world a better, more accessible place. It's free to enter and nominations are open until 5 May.

A graphic of a QR scan. Text displays: AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2023. Tech4GoodAwards.com

There are nine categories to enter in this year's Awards:

  • Accessible Education Award
  • Ageing Society Award
  • AI for Good Award
  • Community Impact Award
  • Inclusive Health Award
  • Independent Living Award
  • Sustainability Award
  • Digital Volunteer of the Year Award
  • Workplace Inclusion Award

Enter the Tech4Good Awards NOW

The awards are open to charities, individuals, businesses, government bodies, social enterprises and anyone else using tech to do good, anywhere in the world. 

It's free to enter and entries are open until 5 May 2023, with shortlisting in May and the winners announced in June. 

You can start your entry and return to edit it any time.

Enter the Tech4Good Awards

 

How to win a Tech4Good Award

Our how to win a Tech4good Award Webinar provided the chance to meet a past winner, and offered some useful pointers on what we’re looking for at the awards,


More about the Tech4Good Awards

Does the UK Gov Access to Work scheme fund assistive technology?

At AbilityNet TechShare Pro 2022, AbilityNet Accessibility and Usability Consultant, Adi Latif hosted a session with Debbie Bradford and Ian Milton from UK's Department for Work and Pension. They provided an update on the Access to Work scheme and explained how it could help pay for assistive technology that could benefit you or someone you work with.

The full interview is available now as a podcast episode. In this blog, Adi shares the key updates for Access to Work in 2023, and adds extra answers to questions from Debbie and Ian.

Access to Work can fund assistive technology

Adi Latif, smiling at the cameraThe Access to Work scheme can provide practical and financial support for a disabled employee who is either starting or returning to work. 

My personal experience with Access to Work has been amazing. It's a service that I hold very dearly close to my heart, and for all of my working life, I've been tapping into Access to Work to help me level the playing field. I'm blind and because of this I’ve faced a number of challenges in the workplace.

When I first started working back in 2005, the workplace wasn't that accessible, so Access to Work helped me fund a screen reader which reads the computer screen to me. It also helped pay for programmers to make my screen reader work better with the inaccessible software that was present in that particular workplace. 

You may also find AbilityNet’s How to apply for an Access to Work grant factsheet useful.

We also have information on Reasonable Adjustments and Disability and Employment.

New online portal for Access to Work payments 

There’s a major process change for disabled people in the workplace. Ian from UK's Department for Work and Pension shared the Covid-19 pandemic gave Access to Work a push to embrace digital and start the move for Access to Work payments to go online. 

With the new paperless payment method, Access to Work recipients will soon be able to submit claims online and upload receipts. Employers will also be able to use electronic authentication to confirm claims through their emails and online accounts.

Ian said that Access to Work is “hoping to conclude by November and review it in December so that in the new year [2023] we can aim to roll that out to all Access to Work customers.”

Access to Work support for hybrid working 

The Covid-19 pandemic saw an increase in people working remotely, which resulted in a new way of working. 

Access to Work now offers support for disabled people who work at the office and at home, also known as “hybrid working”. Debbie explained that “what this means is that you can have support in the office in the workplace and also at home”. 

Adjustments Passports for disabled students Young woman in a wheelchair picking out a book on a shelf

During the TechShare Pro session, Debbie also shared that Access to Work has been testing Adjustments Passports at Wolverhampton, Manchester Metropolitan and King's College London universities to help disabled students transition from university to work. 

Students complete the passports with their university’s student offices, so any support that they've had at university or through Disabled Student's Allowance (DSA) is captured on the Passport. This helps students have that information ready when they interview with potential employers. 

The Passports help show the support students have had in the past and more importantly, show the support they will need in the future at work. 

The Adjustments Passports have also helped to raise awareness of Access to Work. Debbie explained that during the testing they found many students were not aware of the Access to Work scheme - so the Passports help bridge that gap. 

Due to the positive feedback from the Adjustments Passports, Debbie said they hope to roll the passports out soon for all universities.

Health Adjustments Passports and job seekers

In job centres, Access to Work has now introduced Health Adjustments Passports. 

A disabled job seeker can discuss with a work coach to get the passport completed and that will help the work coach to then send the appropriate vacancy to the job seeker and raise with the employer the types of support the candidate will need. 

The Health Adjustments Passports will help stop difficult conversations with employers and remove barriers before the employee begins at their new place of work. 

Access to Work Passports for Disabled contractors and freelancers

Debbie shared that Access to Work has recently done “a lot of work in the self-employment area”. Disabled contractors and freelancers can use the Health Adjustment Passport, but also benefit from the newly introduced Flexible application.

Before, contractual freelancers would only receive Access to Work cover based on their contract time, then they would have to reapply for Access to Work once they got a new job. 

With the flexible application, a contractual freelancer can submit their application and support will be awarded for three years where they can turn it on and turn it off as they move between jobs. 

Debbie compared the Flexible Application to furlough, “so, when you're in work you will get support. Then it will lay dormant until your next contract starts and then it will reactivate as soon as you move into the new area of work.”

Your Access to Work questions answered

The TechShare Pro session also included an opportunity to pose questions to Debbie and Ian from UK's Department for Work and Pension.

Q: What are the provisions for people who are on the job search?Graphic of a person scratching their head with three question marks above them

Access to Work funding is normally available for people who are about to start or are already in employment. There are some exceptions to this including work experience which Access to Work grant funding can be provided for up to 8 weeks per annum.

For all other types of support for people who are job searching, I would recommend they contact their local Jobcentre Plus office which details can be found on gov.uk.

Q: We are hearing about delays in processing applications for Access to Work. Is there any update on that?

Access to Work is continuing to review the processes and procedures it uses to improve waiting times for all applicants. We are continuing to monitor the situation with a view to reducing the wait time as soon as possible.

Q: Does Access to Work offer help for any adjustments needed during the application process?

For people applying for Access to Work with a job to start within the next 4 weeks, their application will be prioritised to enable their support to be put in place as soon as possible. 

For all other applications, where support is needed more urgently whilst the application is being considered, the Access to Work case manager can consider temporary support until a decision can be made on the overall grant funding.

If you haven’t already, you can access the full podcast recording and transcript of the Update on the Access to Work scheme TechShare Pro session below.

Listen to the podcast: Access to Work Updates

 

How to create an inclusive workplace

Inclusion is the process of creating an environment in which individuals feel welcomed, heard, respected, supported, valued, and able to reach their full potential. So to be an inclusive workplace you celebrate differences, recognise talent, and empower every employee. 

Below, we have compiled some helpful resources, including an upcoming free webinar, that will help you create an inclusive workplace.

Free Webinar on inclusive employee experience

In our free webinar, Teresa Loftus, Senior Workplace and Education Inclusion Consultant  at AbilityNet hosted a fireside chat with Ross Hovey, Accessibility Manager from Lloyds Banking Group, and Vina Theodorakopoulou, Individual Members Lead at GAIN (Group for Autism, Insurance, and Neurodiversity).  

Profile images of Ross Hovey, Vina Theodorakopoulou, and Teresa Loftus.As experts on employee inclusion, they shared initiatives that will help you create an inclusive and accessible working environment for disabled and neurodivergent employees. 

Ross and Vina discussed:

  • The barriers to employment for disabled and neurodiverse people
  • How organisations can approach inclusion and accessibility for staff
  • Whether there have been any significant changes since the pandemic
  • Employee initiatives that facilitate inclusive and accessible working
  • How to create an accessible and inclusive digital environment
  • Why organisations should create a neuroinclusive workplace and the key benefits of doing so

Access the recording

What are Reasonable Adjustments? 

Employers and service providers are required by the Equality Act of 2010 to make "Reasonable Adjustments" that will give disabled people access to the same opportunities and services as non-disabled people. 

By learning the ins and outs of Reasonable Adjustments, you are not only meeting legal requirements but also creating an inclusive workplace that can accommodate your disabled employees.

Visit our dedicated webpage 'What are Reasonable Adjustments?' for a full overview of the legal requirements and how you can meet them. 

Free training on disability inclusion in the workplace 

Disability inclusion training is essential to building an inclusive workplace as it increases and sustains disability awareness and encourages inclusive work practices. 

Learn how to identify what steps you can take to achieve meaningful change and growth in our upcoming free 'How to build a disability inclusive workplace' training course on 19 April.

Register for the free training

How AbilityNet can help you create an inclusive workplace 

AbilityNet's experts can support you in building a workplace that is inclusive by design and uses technology so that every employee can work to their full potential. Contact our experts today.

More resources for workplace inclusion

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