Accessibility research wins international award

AbilityNet staff have won ‘Best Communication Paper’ at the annual Web for All (W4a) conference, a prestigious international event with a strong focus on accessibility. Their paper described a study on the validity of current mobile web accessibility guidelines and beat off competition from world-leading organisations IBM and the W3C.

Dr Chris Bailey and Raphael Clegg-Vinell with their Award from W4A_2.jpegDr Chris Bailey and Raphael Clegg-Vinell, shown in the picture with their Award, are consultants from AbilityNet’s accessibility team. They worked with Dr Voula Gkatzidou, a Research Fellow at Brunel University, to prepare the paper for the conference called “Investigating the Appropriateness and Relevance of Mobile Web Accessibility Guidelines” and passed a rigorous peer review process before being accepted.

W4A is one of the largest accessibility events in the calendar. attended by a number of delegates from around the world including academics, policy makers, disability groups, technology advocates and representatives from large corporations such as Google and includes representatives from the W3C – the body who develop standards for the web.

Raphael, the lead author of the paper, explained the research:

"The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develop guidelines for making the web more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines are known as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) and Mobile Web Best Practices (MWBP 1.0) (Mobile Web Best Practices) and are internationally regarded as the industry standard guidelines for web accessibility.

“Our work at AbilityNet is increasingly focused on mobile platforms. We carry out mobile testing sessions with users who have a range of different access needs and preferences.  For the benefit of clients, findings from these sessions are mapped wherever possible to the industry standard guidelines.

"However, our experience shows that many issues reported by users cannot be easily mapped to guidelines, or do not appear to be covered by a guideline at all.  This motivated us to conduct more detailed research and analysis into the matter, to ensure that guidelines really are there to benefit the users.”

Dr Chris Bailey attended W4A, which this year was held in Seoul, Korea, to present the findings of the research: 

“The presentation was a great success and was very well received by delegates. Feedback was highly positive and it sparked a lot of debate among attendees. As a direct result of presenting at the conference, the W3C asked AbilityNet to engage directly with them. This will ensure that the findings and  any fuuture work feeds into the development of the next generation of Mobile Accessibility Guidelines."

Chris, Raphael and Voula hope their research will help bring about much needed enhancements and updates to the current mobile guidelines.  The work also helps pave the way of others to conduct similar research into this fast-growing and important area of mobile web accessibility. 

Their work doesn’t stop here, and they will continue to monitor the results of user testing sessions and evaluate the effectiveness of the guidelines for both the benefit of AbilityNet, its clients and the wider UX community.    

The paper is available in the ACM Digital Library

AbilityNet recognised for innovation in workplace assessments

AbilityNet has been named as a runner up in the RIDI Awards, a new national competition that recognises best practise in supporting disabled people in the workplace. The Innovation in Assessment Award recognises how alternatives and adjustments to assessments are often so simple and yet have such a positive impact for disabled candidates.

AbilityNet was commended as a good example of an expert partnership bringing the technological expertise to deliver results and remove barriers and offering highly competent professional advice and support.

AbilityNet CEO Nigel Lewis, who is shown with Ben Chalcraft and Sheekha Rajani of DiversityJobs.co.uk, said he was pleased to see AbilityNet perform so well in the new Awards:

"The RIDI Awards recognise the many different ways that employers and suppliers can help meet the needs of disabled people in the workplace. As well as being runners up in the Innovation in Assessment Award, AbilityNet sponsored the Technology for Inclusion Award, which was a great way for us to recognise the many ways that digital technology can help disabled people in the workplace.

"The Awards Ceremony was a great event and showed just how many employers are investing their time and expertise to ensure that they recruit and retain the best talent."

Read more about all of the Awards on the RIDI website.AbilityNet CEO Nigel Lewis is shown with Ben Chalcraft and Sheekha Rajani of DiversityJobs.co.uk

 

 

Global Accessibility Review for Global Accessibility Awareness Day #GAAD 2014

Join AbilityNet and an international network of accessibility specialists in celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 15 May. We'll be hearing from accessibility experts from around the world, talking about their current concerns and future trends. It's a great chance to hear a mix of practical insights, as well predictions for the future and views on the next steps for digital accessibility.


Visit the webinar archive to view a recording of the webinar and download the transcript.


The line up included:

  • Ken Nakata at Hi Software/Compliance Sheriff
  • David Woodbridge ­- Vision Australia
  • Dennis Lembree - Easychirp/PayPal
  • Ricardo Garcia ­- Technosite
  • Shadi Abou-Zahra ­- World Wide Web Consortium/Web Accessibility Initiative
  • Thomas Richter - Samsung

We talked to them about the global face of accessibility, including:

  • How can WCAG respond to the growth of the Internet of Things?
  • How will an apparent growth in accessibility-related litigation in the USA impact on other countries?
  • The take up of digital TV in Australia
  • Accessible social media
  • and much more.

This is a great way to hear about accessibility from experts around the planet. We've squeezed their thoughts into bite-sized chunks you will hear in the webinar, and we will then be joined for several of them for a Q+A session.

If you can't make it on the day then please register your interest and we'll let you know when it's available.

What is GAAD?

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is celebrated through a series of great events going on all over the world and is designed to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.

You can find more details, including a list of events, at the GAAD website at www.globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org.

Vote for AbilityNet in the Digital Leaders Awards

AbilityNet has once again been nominated in the Digital Leaders 100, which recognise individuals and organisations making a difference in the world of citizen-facing digital services. Last year our work was recognised with a place in the Top Ten, alongside the BBC, Google and Mozilla (the makers of Firefox).

The final decision is based on a public online vote that closes on 2 June.

Please visit the website now and vote for us in the NGO Category

Digital Leaders finalist

 

Using a computer after a brain injury

Having a brain injury can cause many different issues but the use of a computer can certainly allievate some of these issues and make your day to day life that bit easier.Brain Awareness Week logo

What is a Brain Injury?

A brain injury happens when the brain gets damaged in some way, either by a traumatic occurrence, for examples a car accident, or the brain might be damaged by a stroke or an infection.

How many people in the UK have the condition?

According to Headway, the UK's leading charity for people with a brain injury,  there are 1 million people living with the long term effects of a brain injury the UK. (source:https://www.headway.org.uk/key-facts-and-statistics.aspx.)

How can computers help someone with a brain injury?

These commonly asked questions about having a brain injury illustrate some of the many ways of using a computer effectively.

I sometimes find it difficult to take my finger off the keyboard so I end up getting lots of characters. What can I do?

Firstly,  it would be worth seeing if the keyboard you are currently using is the most effective one. You can also turn on a function called Filter Keys which is built into every new computer and basically slows down the keyboard repeat rate to your own specific needs. You can find some information on it within our website. (http://www.abilitynet.org.uk/mcmw/category/changing-keyboard-settings/) . There are lots of different keyboards to choose from so it should be fairly easy to find a keyboard that you can use easily.

Every computer, smartphone or tablet includes options for adapting the way the keyboard works. AbilityNet’s award-winning My Computer My Way provides information about all the main computer and smartphone systems,

Can I talk to my computer?

If your voice is clear then we’d advise trying out voice recognition. It’s built into all new computers that run Windows. For more details have a look at our easy to understand step by step instructions on My Computer,My Way.

We’ve also written an overview of how voice recognition can help you. If you do have literacy difficulties it might be a really good idea to get support in reading the text to the computer.

Sometimes I have difficulty with reading text. What can I do?

There are a number of free and cheap text to speech packages which will read text out to you.  We really like the text to speech package at: http://www.ivona.com/en/.

I find it really difficult to remember important appointments. Can a computer help me?

Using Google's Calendar application is just one way of making sure you never miss an inportant appointment again. It is free of charge and you can synchronise it between your smart phone/tablet and your desktop computer meaning that you always have your schedule at your fingertips.


Case study

 Emma rang us to say that her boyfriend Bob was having issues with reading text on emails and web pages as well as PDF files. We suggested Bob ought to consider the Natural Reader software. This means that he is able to read documents independently.  He can also use the software to help him when he’s responding to emails too.

How can we help?

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people.

Call our free Helpline. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution. We’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0800 269 545.

Arrange a home visit. We have a network of AbilityNet ITCanHelp volunteers who can help if you have technical issues with your computer systems. They can come to your home, or help you over the phone.

We have a range of factsheets which talk in detail about technology that might help you, which can be downloaded for free.  You may find our factsheets talking about voice recognition, keyboard alternatives and learning difficulties useful.

My Computer My Way. A list of free hints and tips that you can use to make your time on the computer that bit easier.

Free webinar. Sector Spotlight: Home Insurance Websites

Our sector reports shine a light on web accessibility in specific industries, showing how well the leading players are delivering accessibility best practise. In April we looked at the sites of six of the UK's leading Household Insurance companies, including Aviva, Axa, Direct Line, Hiscox, NFU Mutual and Zurich. 

This fiercely competitive industry continues to drive as much business as it can though the web. That means that every site relies heavily on the quality of their forms and the online customer experience to win and retain customers, so good user experience for disabled people should translate into better service for every customer.

With over 11 million disabled people in the UK - with a combined spending power above £100bn per year - how do these big hitters respond to such a potentially lucrative market?  

This is a great chance to learn more about how we test sites, hear feedback from our testers and ask us questions about the results. Everyone who regsiters for the event will receive a copy of the report and can access a video recording of the webinar. 

This webinar took place in April 2014 - visit the Webinar Archive for more details and to watch the video of the webinar.

Support Martha’s Mad May March

It is 10 years since AbilityNet’s Patron Baroness Martha Lane Fox had an awful car accident which left her with a number of life-threatening injuries. Since then she has become a tireless and inspiring champion for digital inclusion and to show how far she has come she is going to walk 50 miles along Hadrian’s Wall in 5 days over the May Bank Holiday, raising money for AbilityNet and other charities.

Martha Lane FoxShe will be joined by family and friends who have helped her on her journey and aims to raise £50,000, so please visit Martha's MyDonate page and show your support for this amazing feat.

Tender Opportunity: Join our digital mission

Tinder Foundation, together with our partners Abilitynet, Digital Outreach Ltd, SCVO, Supporting Communities Northern Ireland and NIACE Dysgu Cymru, has reached the second stage of the Big Lottery Fund’s Basic Online Skills programme.

Our proposed programme - Digital Mission- will support people to gain basic skills through local awareness raising and engagement campaign, the establishment of new digital clubs to train people in communities across the country, and by establishing a network to support people to gain digital skills in their own home.

As we prepare our full bid for round 2, we will be looking for partners to deliver Help at Home. We’ll be looking for partners in all of the four nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) with a track record of supporting the hardest to reach at home.

Download the Tender Documents below -  closing date for applications is 25 April

Os hoffech chi gopi o’r ddogfen dendr hon a ffurflen gais yn Gymraeg, anfonwch e-bost at dianne.cockburn@abilitynet.org.uk
 

Tinder Foundation Digital OutreachNIACE WalesSupporting Communities NIScottish Council of Voluntary OrganisationsAbilityNet

 

Parkinson's and Computing

Parkinson's Awareness Week 2014As it is Parkinson's Awareness Week in April we thought we would write a blog to show people who have the condition how easy it is to use their computer.

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson's is a degenerative condition which affects the central nervous system. It causes tremors and difficulty with movement. Speech may also be affected. The condition is caused by lack of a chemical called dopamine. Famous people with the condition include retired boxer Muhammed Ali.

How many people in the UK have the condition?

According to Parkinson’s UK there are 127,000 people with the condition in the UK www.parkinsons.org.uk/content/what-parkinsons

How can computers help someone with Parkinson's?

These commonly asked question about having Parkinson’s illustrate some of the many ways of using a computer effectively

1. My hands shake and I can’t use the standard keyboard. What can I do?

If you have the condition you might want to use a different keyboard (perhaps also using a keyguard which is a piece of plastic which fits over the top of the keyboard making it easier to hit the right key.) You may even want to change the way the keyboard reacts when you hit a key, such as slowing it down.

Every computer, smartphone or tablet includes options for adapting the way the keyboard works. AbilityNet’s award-winning My Computer My Way provides information about all the main computer and smartphone systems. We also have a Factsheet about alternatives to keyboards and a mouse and there are lots of different keyboards to choose from.

2. I find it hard to use the mouse. Are there any other pointing devices out there?

If you’re having issues with the mouse then there are lots of different pointing devices (such as rollerballs) to choose from. It’s a really good idea to try them out before you buy; additionally it is worth considering if you might want to install some software that does automatic clicking. Dwell Clicker 2 is a very effective piece of software.

3. Can I talk to my computer?

If your voice is clear then we’d advise trying out voice recognition. It’s built into all new computers that run Windows. For more details have a look at our easy to understand step by step instructions on My Computer My Computer. We’ve also written an overview of how voice recognition can help you.

4. My speech is good sometimes but gets worse throughout the day. People find it hard to understand me. What can I do?

If your speech is affected there are a number of packages which you can install on a smartphone or tablet computer. However, if you’ve got issues with tremors then using a smartphone may be difficult for you to use. Switch access is possible on a Mac or Windows tablet. The switches can be wireless too for easier use. Search for more information about switches on our website.


Case study

Kenny called us as his partner John was having difficulties researching information on his Android tablet. Our A&I team talked to him about the different ways that John can access his tablet, using Google’s voice control and we went on to tell him about a piece of software called Evi which you can ask questions with your voice and it will go away and find the answer.


How can we help?

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people.

Call our free Helpline. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution. We’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0800 269 545.

Arrange a home visit. We have a network of AbilityNet ITCanHelp volunteers who can help if you have technical issues with your computer systems. They can come to your home, or help you over the phone.

We have a range of factsheets which talk in detail about technology that might help you, which can be downloaded for free. You may find our factsheets talking about voice recognition and keyboard alternatives useful.

My Computer My Way. A list of free hints and tips that you can use to make your time on the computer that bit easier.

Hannah Cockroft launches Tech4Good Awards 2014

Double Paralympic Gold Medallist Hannah Cockroft MBE officially launched this year’s Tech4Good Awards at an event that took place at BT Tower last week.

Hannah is one of the judges of this year’s Awards and will be present at the ceremony itself on 10th July at BT Centre. Although she was unable to attend the launch event in person she sent a video message from her training base, which you can view below.

Nominations are open until 5pm on Tuesday 6th May.

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