Tech is helping to bridge the accessibility gap, and helping to improve the living standards of those with a mental or physical disability.
Many UK charities work to improve the living standards of people with disabilities. Charity digital leaders have taken up all that new tech has to offer to improve the lives of those living with mental and physical disability. Featuring the most cutting-edge and innovative devices, charities have found creative ways to work with people with disabilities to help them live more independent and comfortable lives.
Awareness of needs drives digital transformation
AbilityNet, a leader in digital accessibility tech that was originally founded by IBM and supported by Microsoft, has made fundamental changes to the way disabled people access everyday services. The charity has helped make Barclays’ Personal Banking App more accessible; improved Heathrow’s website; and the increased the British Museum’s digital presence.
One of London’s most visited museums, AbilityNet mapped user journeys to discover how those affected by dyspraxia, Asperger’s Syndrome, deafness with temporary partial sight loss, blindness, people with cognitive difficulties, and older users navigated its website and booking system. Since then, the museum’s website has adopted an accessible approach to its video and online content. Charity digital leaders can turn to AbilityNet’s expertise to advise on inclusive digital transformation strategies.
Social media needs to be accessible to everyone
Being visually impaired doesn’t have to mean missing out on social media. While many charities are using their tech skills to increase digital accessibility, others are giving advice on how to reach out. Here are some tips for charity digital leaders looking to connect with people with disabilities:
Thinking outside the box, charity tech tools enhance digital experiences
Remap is a tech for good charity, using technology to bring independence to young and old people alike. The charity’s specialist volunteers make bespoke tools for everyday life.
Philip’s life has been transformed by the charity – having lost the use of his hands, he uses his mouth to access his computer. Responding to his mouth, the Integramouse is essential to his digital life, along with the text software helping him to type. Responding to his needs, engineers from the charity help him access his computer.
Being left out of major games is never fun for children and young people. Special Effect’s digital tech tools level the playing field. From specialised gaming consoles to eye-controlled systems, the charity custom builds or loans hardware to help young gamers. Last year, the charity started building a video game site for those with physical disabilities. The charity has teamed up with Sun and Moon Studios to build Eye Gaze Games, a free, accessible, web-based site for people with disabilities to meet up and play online games. Games are streamed through internet browsers, expanding the site’s reach regardless of income or location.
Everyone Can holds regular workshops in Manchester to demonstrate how new tech can have an impact on day-to-day life. Charity digital leaders help those with a range of disabilities understand how tech can work – with assistive technology, lives can be transformed. The charity has helped people with severe disabilities find employment and independence.
"Assistive Technology has offered a gateway to an independent life. I used my first computer at primary school. However, it wasn’t until secondary school when I really started my development with Assistive Technology. This continued at university where it was important to study independently as it was not possible to have a scribe all the time,” said Mike, who has Cerebral Palsy. With the new assistive keyboard and smart pen provided by the charity, he found full employment with a London agency.
Many hands make light work
Connecting visually impaired people with volunteers, Be My Eyes is a free mobile phone app that lets others ‘see’ for blind and low-vision service users. Users can have volunteers guide them through challenges, including packing, navigating, and daily chores. CEO Hans Jorgen Wiberg got the idea – being visually impaired himself – he relied on Facetime and his close network of friends and family to help him. The app has a huge following. There are millions of volunteers willing to help the 138,455 registered users. For charity digital leaders, custom apps can improve service delivery.