The winners of the seventh AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards have been announced at a special ceremony at BT Centre, London.
The winners included year ten school pupils Kiera McKillop and Sinead McKeown, who won the BT Young Pioneer Award for creating the Dyslexic Aid, which helps children who are struggling to learn because of dyslexia.
The AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards are organised by national charity AbilityNet and sponsored by BT.
They are the only awards that celebrate the use of digital technology to improve other people’s lives in the UK, and now also in Sub-Saharan Africa, following the addition of a new Tech4Good for Africa category sponsored by Comic Relief.
The awards took place at a ceremony on 11 July at BT Centre, London, where more than 200 people came together, including Maggie Philbin OBE the recipient of this year’s Special Award for her contribution to technology.
The AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2017 winners are:
Special Award: Maggie Philbin OBE
AbilityNet Accessibility Award
: Bristol Braille Technology
Bristol Braille Technology is building a revolutionary and radically affordable Braille e-reader for blind people called Canute, designed with and by the blind community. The Canute is the world’s first multiple line Braille e-reader, forty characters per line by nine lines, and it will be affordable too. They want to be able to sell it for the price of a Perkins typewriter or iPhone. This would make it 20 times cheaper than existing digital Braille devices.
BT Connected Society Award
: Sky Badger
Sky Badger finds educational, medical, financial and social support for families with disabled children all over the UK. Over the last five years, Sky Badger has supported over 1.02 million disabled children and their families. With 981,958 visitors to its website and over 17,470 fans and followers on social media, it is clearly reaching lots of people.
BT Young Pioneer Award
: Dyslexic Aid
Year ten school pupils Kiera McKillop and Sinead McKeown from Killian’s College created the Dyslexic Aid, with a very limited budget, by using a Raspberry Pi computer. They have used their technical knowledge, skills and enthusiasm to design and make a device that helps children who are struggling to learn because of dyslexia.
Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award
In South Africa, Praekelt.org’s Maternal Health Platform connects more than a million pregnant women and new mothers to vital services and information through the National Department of Health's MomConnect programme. Launched in 2014, so far it has sent out over 54 million messages to millions of women, with 95% of clinics in the country signed up to the service.
Community Impact Award
Chatterbox is an online and in-person language tutoring service, delivered and developed by refugees. It brings together refugee talent with people and organisations that need people with excellent language skills. Since starting up in August 2016 they have supported more than 30 refugees with aspirations to rebuild their professional lives in the UK.
Digital Health Award
Both of Vicky Coxhead’s sons have Cystic Fibrosis and because of this they have to do regular physio to keep infections at bay. She applied to feature on a a new BBC2 documentary asking for families with a problems to get in touchand was introduced to Haiyan Zhang, who volunteered to help. Haiyan works as Innovation Director at Microsoft Research in Cambridge. She enlisted the help of Creative Technologist Greg Saul to create a device that could take the boys’ breaths and turn them into controls for a videogame. Together, with Lee Stott at Microsoft UK, they organised hackathons where volunteer designers and engineers from across the UK came along to make new video game experiences for the Coxhead boys.
Digital Skills Award
FabFarm! is a digital aquaponic farm that is designed, built and operated as a social enterprise by disabled students in Derry, N.Ireland. Developed by the Nerve Centre, FabLab, it uses new and emerging technologies to help empower, engage and inspire young people with special educational needs to develop new skills which are directly focused upon their employability in the digital marketplace.
Tech Volunteer of the Year Award
: Simon Cook
Simon Cook started volunteering for Centra Group five years ago. Since then this digital champion has managed to set-up IT equipment in 52 sheltered housing schemes across London, and as far-a-field as Norfolk and Telford. His achievements are astounding, and are driven by his absolute determination and perseverance to use tech for good. In the beginning, it was difficult to get elderly residents involved in the IT projects, they were wary of him and the new technology. But, he has won them over and now runs a computer club four days a week that supports more than 30 people.
Tech4Good People’s Award: C the Signs
C the Signs, a decision support tool that enables GPs to see the early signs of cancer, was chosen as the winner of this award by the general public. The public were encouraged to read about each finalist and their entry on the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards website and vote for their choice for the People’s Award by sending a tweet using a dedicated hashtag.
AbilityNet Head of Marketing and Communications, Mark Walker said: “This year we saw over 200 high-quality entries that showcase how people are using technology for good. As always, judging the awards was a very tough task, with many worthy entries just missing on awards.
“And so we are delighted to announce these extremely worthy winners of the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2017. Congratulations to each and every one of them for their hard work and success. And commiserations to those who didn’t win – they were all great entries, worthy of an award.
“These awards celebrate their success and share their stories to inspire others, whilst recognising all entrants’ hard work and creativity. Each winner has truly used their passion for digital technology to change the lives of other people.
“We now look forward to seeing how our winners and the other entrants progress in future as they go on to shape the world and help others using digital technology.”