Business Disability Forum believes inclusive and accessible customer service should be standard practice and that every workplace should be a great place to work. The Disability-Smart Awards aims to showcase and celebrate the most innovative and inclusive practice among employers and service providers.
“Being a judge on the Disability-Smart Awards panel is a great way to learn. Some of the submissions were absolutely brilliant – and I can be really difficult to impress! I really enjoyed it! And one of the things is to understand some of the innovative work that goes on and the impact that it makes.
“It’s encouraging to see so many organisations try and get better at becoming disability-smart. It’s great to see the breadth, the innovation, creativity and impact for customers, employees – and the public in general. It shows the impact you make when you do something a bit different.
“What companies can learn from these submissions is the impact it makes on different levels: for individuals, teams and across organisations as a whole.
“Why is it important to be a disability-smart organisation? Who wouldn’t welcome more creativity? A different way of thinking? To innovate? Yet, no-one means to go into a boardroom and exclude 20% of the population that could do that, so the work that people are doing here helps inclusion happen.
“I hope you’re inspired to submit an award!”
Entries for all categories are open until Thursday 20 September 2018, so there’s plenty of time to get a submission together for one of our seven award categories:
After months of planning, the day of our Technology Taskforce film festival finally arrived and it was truly an amazing event! (Even if we do say so ourselves!)
Generously hosted by KPMG at their Canary Wharf offices and sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the event saw the outcome of the previously set 72 hour film challenge to university students who were asked: “Business, technology, disability: how does technology showcase disabled talent?”. The challenge called on students from across the country to create a film that embodied the brief. Prizes were donated by Barclays, Microlink, Microsoft, Santander – and KPMG who gave a top of the range laptop!
As well as showcasing great film, we also wanted the event to provoke thoughts about the next generation of disabled people and as they prepare to enter the world of work with a fresh set of ideas, perspectives and expectations, are we as employers ready to harness this new pool of talent, or will existing barriers mean that we miss the opportunity?
In third place was ‘The Wheelchair Man’, by Trine Hagan, Gavin Roberts and Joey Thompson from the University of Creative Arts. It told the story of student Joey who has adjusted to life with a disability while at university both by getting used to assistive technology and with the support of others through online spaces such as YouTube. They won 2 Amazon Echo dots and an Amazon Firestick TV.
The runner up was ‘Why I Make My Life So Hard’ by Oliver Lam-Watson of Kingston University, which came from a question the filmmaker asked himself about carrying heavy and often clunky filming gear around in his determination to be an influential filmmaker. He won Wembley tickets, Amazon Echo dot, as well as a Motorola Moto Smart watch.
And *drumroll please*…
….first place was given to Wolf pack a talented team of two Wolverhampton University students, William Horsefield and Samuel Ash whose film ‘Big Day’ examined how assistive technology could help someone move into the world of work, through interviews and beyond. The film also explored the creation of an app in which sign language could be converted to text on a phone. An exciting prospect!
Wolf pack, won 1st place receiving an Amazon Echo, Lenovo X260 Laptop, XBOX One S 1TB and Minecraft games and an Apple TV.
Jeff A. King, Assistant Vice President, European IT, Enterprise Rent-A-Car said: “We’ve teamed up with the Business Disability Forum’s Technology Taskforce for a unique event. It’s a Film Festival that provides a look at the world through the eyes of young disabled students preparing to go for their first jobs. It goes without saying that workplaces need to understand each new generation of graduates. After all they are the people who will ultimately shape the organisation and ensure it meets the future with fresh ideas and remains relevant. More immediately, this is about getting the best out of every employee in the organisation and utilising the most diverse possible pool of talent.”
As well as the three talented winners, there were also short films from our hosts KPMG who screened ‘No More Awkwardness’ which highlighted how within their organisation the conversation of disability is normalised.
Our sponsors Enterprise Rent-A-Car screened their film ‘The Blind Hike’ which was a tale of a father and son who use their rented cars to explore the world.
We also screened our own film ‘Inside Nutmeg House’ – taking a look at why we do what we do through a day in the life of a Disability Consultant and a Relationship Manager.
This film festival had a great turn out from our membership, so a big thank you to all who came along to support and we very much look forward to seeing you next year!
We’ve teamed up with the Business Disability Forum’s Technology Taskforce for a unique event. It’s a Film Festival that provides a look at the world through the eyes of young disabled students preparing to go for their first jobs.
It goes without saying that workplaces need to understand each new generation of graduates. After all they are the people who will ultimately shape the organisation and ensure it meets the future with fresh ideas and remains relevant. More immediately, this is about getting the best out of every employee in the organisation and utilising the most diverse possible pool of talent.
Therefore it is a given that workplaces need to understand disabled employees and candidates, for the same reason. It’s the right thing to do and means your business is fair and open, but, more importantly, it also means that every employee has the chance to succeed and achieve their full potential in an environment where they are valued and respected.
Judging films for this year’s Film Festival has been particularly interesting because this new generation of disabled talent has grown up or come of age with hard-fought legislation such as the DDA and Equality Act already in place.
This means they will bring a formidable range of new ideas and approaches to the workplace, but also that they will expect and want new things from their employer. This shouldn’t be a source of concern for recruiters – it should be treated as a real opportunity to develop the way we work and problem-solve.
So it’s just down to us as organisations to rise to the challenge.
Some of the most inspiring aspects of the Film Festival entries were the ways they showed how understanding and adjustments, whether this was by entire organisations or just by individuals working together, can break down any barrier.
We specifically wanted to see the entrants weave in the theme of technology and another great thing to see was how technology has enabled not only disabled people, but entire workforces to operate in a more accessible way.
Seeing the work of these talented young filmmakers, I am reminded of how successful this approach was in one of our interns, who shared her story on our website.
Mollie recently started with us as a Management Trainee Intern at our Midlands group and her experience shows how simple adjustments to the work environment can enable a talented candidate to shine. She immediately felt able to share the fact that she had dyslexia when she came to work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and was also secure in the knowledge that she would receive any necessary adjustments in a timely manner.
This meant that a talented new trainee was able to take on every aspect of her new job to the best of her ability, and that there were no barriers when it came to hiring new talent.
Successes like this are among the many reasons why I would like to encourage as many businesses as possible to see these films. Hearing what can help break down barriers for disabled people – be that technology, collaboration or adjustments – in their own words, is something all businesses should do.
We’ll be screening our own film at the Film Festival, ‘Blind Hike’, which I feel sums up what we are hoping to achieve in terms of breaking down barriers: it’s about no experience or achievement being off limits and realising the potential that everyone has.
In our latest guest blog, new BDF Board Member Hari Sundaresan talks about his experience of revealing his disability to his colleagues and helping to maintain an open culture around disability at BT.
I started out as a graduate scientist at Adastral and have enjoyed some very interesting jobs. But for years I hid the fact I had a specific vision-related condition. It hasn’t held me back but I was often worried that it would make a difference if people found out, and not in a good way.
Then, in a team meeting a few years ago, I had no choice but to share the thing I had always felt embarrassed about. Picture the scene. My team are showing me a slide as part of a project status update…
‘Hari, you don’t seem very worried about the status of these projects?’
‘Why would I be? They are mostly green aren’t they?’
‘No! They are mostly red!’
‘Ah…then there is something I need to tell you.’
It was out. I had to admit to being colour blind for the first time in my career. People knowing isn’t a big deal these days; but it used to be a big deal for me. Now I tell everyone who I am working with, to write the words ‘Red’, Amber’ and ‘Green’ and not just rely on colours to tell me the status of their project. It works fine.
I guess this was the day I was my “whole” self at work and by being so my colleagues and I both adjusted so that we get the job done. It made me feel so much better about the whole business of having a visual condition.
This is one of the reasons I became BT’s Disability Champion.
To me this means I can personally influence BT’s journey to becoming a company who is really confident with disability:
I want everyone to get that difference is just part of life and we are so much better for it
I want us all to feel we can be our whole selves at work and that we are much more likely to succeed if we are
I want us all to get the adjustments we need to do our jobs well and that most of the time it’s going to be something pretty quick and simple
I want to carry on talking about disability at BT, and I want everyone to hear it, so please join in and help me share the conversation.
It’s a journey I’m now keen to influence on an even larger scale as a board member of BDF. It feels like there’s a lot more work to be done and I’m looking forward to a busy and exciting 2017!
The third Monday of January is coined Blue Monday: ‘the most depressing day of the year’. And sure enough, this time of year often provokes thought around mental health and wellbeing.
However, as our Senior Disability Consultant Christopher Watkins has pointed out in a previous post, Blue Monday has no real connection with disability, In fact, it’s just the day on which is it easiest to sell you a summer holiday.
Created by Porter Novelli on behalf of Sky Travel about ten years ago, the idea of ‘Blue Monday’ claims to be based on a formula including metrics including ‘travel time’, ‘delays’, ‘time spent packing’, and a number of other factors without defined units of measurement . By 2009 the formula had been reviewed to consider slightly more reasonable factors like ‘weather’, ‘debt’ and ‘time since failing new year’s resolutions’, again without any defined units of measurements but reassuringly (or miraculously) coming up with exactly the same day.
However, with recent research (from October 2016) indicating that 77 per cent of employees have experienced a mental health problem—and 62 per cent believing this was because of work, it is clear that poor wellbeing is not confined to ‘Blue Monday.’
A more difficult question is how to promote, or improve, wellbeing in the workplace. Indeed workplace wellbeing was subject of public debate between Christopher Watkins and fellow Senior Disability Consultant Angela Matthews at a recent event.
In many ways the dilemmas around workplace wellbeing promotional schemes mirror those of Blue Monday: whether it is valuable in promoting inclusion, or counterproductive because it promotes overly general ideas of what is meant by ‘well’ or ‘unwell’.
The solution for wellbeing schemes was found to be ensuring that they took individual employee needs into account, providing adjustments as employers would with a job – a tailored solution rather than a general one.
Similarly the best way to approach Blue Monday as an organisation might be to use the general subject of wellness and happiness to initiate and then widen the conversation about mental health, wellbeing and disability.
Although Blue Monday has no real link to disability, it can be used to start the conversation about it.
Needless to say it needs to go beyond ‘the most depressing day of the year’. Businesses should keep mental health and disability as part of their conversations about well being all year round. This is why we encourage our Member and Partner organisations to keep in touch and make use of our Advice service and consultancy, your relationship with us can make a huge difference to the well being of your staff.
If you are looking for guidance around mental health in the workplace take a look at our line manager guide Mental health at work.
Following the publication of the Click-Away Pound Report http://www.clickawaypound.com I’ve been reflecting on why website accessibility and usability for disabled people is still an issue after all these years. It is a puzzle to me that 71% of disabled users click-away from sites with access barriers and consequently displace £11.75 B to accessible sites. Why do businesses let that happen? It definitely isn’t good business on any level.
This situation exists despite:
The Equality Act and its predecessor – the Disability Discrimination Act
A British Standard
Expert guidance and discussions
The traditional business case
It seems to me there are three key aspects to the broader business case:
These three issues are, of course, inter-related but are worth considering individually.
In reality the legal risks of having an inaccessible website are low in the UK. To make a case a customer would need to demonstrate a breach of the Equality Act which affected them personally and this would need to be done in a County or High court which would be expensive and time consuming. No cases in this field have been pursued to their conclusion; the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has initiated several cases against businesses with inaccessible sites but the cases were settled out of court, with the organisations involved agreeing to address the issues. The lack of cases coming to court probably explains why the law has had little impact in this area since its introduction (in the form of the Disability Discrimination Act) in 1995, although challenges are always a possibility. Interestingly, in the USA the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 allows for class actions and the imposition of much higher compensation payments. Even so, the US approach has not delivered a fully accessible web presence.
There are potential PR risks if website accessibility is ignored and this has implications, albeit limited, for loss of reputation. Any business strategy based on customer-focus and inclusivity is quickly undermined by the lack of an inclusive website. Such stories are unlikely to generate significant coverage in mainstream media and result in PR damage unless a legal challenge is mounted, but they do attract attention on social media and generate ’mood music’‘ of negativity about the business’s understanding of the issues which can be damaging to the brand.
Even commercial judgements such as lost or displaced revenue has not driven business to ensure accessible websites; if it had there wouldn’t be this issue. This surely can only mean businesses don’t understand its size and implications.
Clearly this business case has failed to gain traction. What is the reality that business is failing to grasp?
The business issues
Considering the trends identified in the Survey and applying them to the national data is illuminating.
The most recent ONS estimate of the UK population is 65.11 million in mid-2015 of whom 87.9% (46.47 million) have internet access.
CAPGemini projected overall UK online spending to be £126 billion by the beginning of 2016 equating to an average spend per head of the UK population with internet access of £2710.
In 2016, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimated there were 8.6 million internet users with a disability in the UK
This Survey found that 71% of internet users with a disability have access needs; this translates to 6.1 million people
Taking an average spend per head of £2710, the online spending power of 6.1 million disabled people with access needs in 2016 is £16.55 billion.
The Survey found that 71% of the total 6.1 million disabled internet users with access needs (4.3 million people) simply click-away when confronted with a problematic website.
These figures equate to a click-away figure of £11.75 billion lost in 2016 from those sites which are not accessible.
These calculations are extrapolated from the Survey’s findings so care must be taken when considering them. Nevertheless, these figures are so large that even allowing for a significant margin of interpretation they are too large to be ignored.
This assessment is supported by findings from our wider work in this field which indicates that over 70% of websites present significant accessibility and usability barriers to disabled users. This means that over two-thirds of businesses are significantly undermining their own potential online customer base. This spend is not lost but simply moves elsewhere as disabled users with access needs turn to a website which is more user friendly. Two-thirds of online retailers are passing customers and sales to their competitors.
To answer the question ‘Is there really a business case’ I believe the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’, both nationally and at the level of the individual business. However, business needs to get a better understanding of the bottom line implications and adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach to website accessibility rather than treating it as a ‘nice to do’ or ‘bolt-on’.
A brief look at the numbers in the Click-Away Pound report should be enough to persuade organisations that they are potentially ignoring and excluding a large number of potential customers. Also businesses need to bear in mind that if a disabled shopper clicks away from their site to one of their competitors, they show little inclination to return.
Take a look at the Click-Away Pound report and get an insight into the business issues and how inaccessible websites impact on your business.
The Accessibility in the Digital Space event on 28 September
There’s no question that the main way that employees and customers alike will deal with most organisations today will be digitally.
But the question remains: what does this mean for accessibility? So this is what we asked at our Accessibility in the Digital Space event which I was lucky enough to lead on Wednesday 28 September.
These events are enormously rewarding in terms of the success stories and good practice we hear about from BDF’s Members and Partners and particularly the sheer passion many of them have for making their websites and IT systems fully accessible.
Indeed what emerged very quickly at Wednesday’s event was the importance of digital accessibility for organisations. Nigel Fletcher of Tesco, who kindly hosted the event, estimated that around 20 per cent of Tesco’s 500,000 employees have a disability.
What we know already is stark: that over 70 per cent of disabled people face significant barriers to accessing websites and apps and often give up.
Of course, there are many challenges involved with digital accessibility, not just in terms of working around existing systems but also entrenched ways of thinking. Rick Williams highlighted the need for a change of culture at organisations so that accessibility is approached as a matter of course, rather than being included as an afterthought as often happens at present.
Then there is the sheer scale of the work involved, with Alistair Duggin of the Government Digital Service noting that making the gov.uk site accessible entailed work on some 300,000 pages of web content.
But one of the key points from the discussion was that organisations are rising to the challenge in a big way.
Marianne Matthews and Clare Davidson from Sky highlighted a major shift in the organisation towards embedding accessibility in everything they do. They have built up a massive digital product development team of 650 people to help them do this, tested every digital product with live users and linked accessibility directly in to Sky’s three design principles of ‘brilliantly simple’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘intelligent’.
Meanwhile Will Houston of Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, noted that accessibility for employees is being transformed by allowing employees to personalise the way they work on IT systems. Will also spoke extensively about the tools that the Technology Taskforce has developed, that are really helping him to embed accessibility with their organisation. Signing up to the Accessible Technology Charter and using the Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM), have really helped them to assess where they are and the areas where they need to improve.
So the key theme here is changing the way we think – as we move more and more towards being ‘digital-first’, we should also become ‘accessible-first’.
And it’s great to be part of the discussions that drive that move.
For more information about BDF’s Technology Taskforce please visit www. technologytaskforce.org/
The challenge was to answer the question: What software applications and digital services would you create to improve people’s lives?
Lucy Ruck, Technology Taskforce Manager at BDF, presents the Dynamic Accessibility Maturity Model to an audience in Brooklyn, New York.
At Business Disability Forum our remit is to support business to get things right for disabled people. Our Technology Taskforce was established to help businesses make their technologies more accessible for disabled customers, employees and stakeholders. Using their collective knowledge and skills, our Taskforce members developed our Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM), a management tool to help organisations assess and improve their commitment to accessibility.
While the AMM’s static framework was well used by our members and was signposted and leveraged by organisations including Gartner and Forester, the HPE Living Challenge provided us with a potential opportunity to create a dynamic, responsive version of the tool with international appeal. Our commitment was to offer the tool free of charge to any organisation that wanted to improve accessibility for the estimated 1 billion people globally with an impairment or disability.
At the beginning of May we were delighted to hear that we had been selected as one of 20 semi-finalists out of 130 proposals to be awarded design and development support from HPE and crowd sourcing platform Topcoder to build a Minimum Viable Product software prototype of our dynamic AMM.
Over the following three months, we worked closely with the HPE and Topcoder teams in the USA who were also providing free project management, UX/technical architect services alongside their design and prototyping services. Our collective challenge was not only to develop a responsive prototype that met the competition brief, but to also ensure that it met AA level accessibility for disabled users based on WCAG2.0. We were delighted to find out that we had made it through to the final 10 and that we would be pitching to senior leaders within HPE.
Towards the end of July the competition moved into its final phase. As the prototype was finalised, we started to work with an external coach to prepare our pitch for the live ‘Demo Day’ in New York on 3 August.
And so on 3 August, our Technology Taskforce Manager Lucy Ruck and Market Insight & Research Manager, Ashley Teaupa joined the other nine Living Progress Challenge finalists at the New Lab venue in New York to pitch our prototype for a digital solution to accelerate social good.
We were absolutely inspired to be among the finalists and although we didn’t make it through to the final build stage, we have developed a proof of concept website and made some great connections along the way. It was important for us to demonstrate the benefits of making digital products and services accessible, and this was an excellent arena to do this in.
Our Technology Taskforce Manager, Lucy Ruck said: “Working with Topcoder and HPE has been a great experience for us and we need to make that final push to get the site developed fully and identify further sponsorship. By having a fully dynamic AMM, we can really utilise this amazing tool that the Technology Taskforce has developed and support IT professionals in becoming disability-smart.”
To find out more about the Technology Taskforce and the AMM you can contact Lucy at email@example.com.
“Here’s a question: does the Equality Act place obligations on business about making their websites accessible and usable for disabled people? Well… err…yes.
OK, so the second question: why is it so many websites aren’t readily accessible or usable for disabled people? I don’t know the answer but it puzzles me.
I’m a blind guy and use a screen reader – you know, that bit of software that reads out what’s on the screen with a voice like Micky Mouse on helium. I would say I was quite an experienced user but it amazes me the number of websites that I find hard to use or can’t use at all! This is so frequent now I got to the point of not even noticing. I just tried one and if it didn’t work I tried another wherever possible. Last year I started keeping stats just for my own curiosity. When doing a search for something new, especially if I wanted to buy something, it was surprising to find that I would typically look at three or four sites before I found one I could use easily.
Do I contact the sites I can’t access and take up the issues? Actually, I’ve given up. I have done it but… well they usually don’t understand or even reply.
On the other hand if I find a site I can use then I use it as much as possible; often even if I know I might be able to get things cheaper elsewhere. For example, I find it easier to have my supermarket shopping delivered and the best site I found to use is Ocado, so I use it. I know some things would be cheaper elsewhere but, well, the accessibility of the site and the app make it so easy why would I bother to look elsewhere when my experience tells me I’m likely to find problems.
The other thing that I find odd is that my company has been running Business Disability Forum’s e-check service http://www.e-check-it.com since 2008. In that time 70% of the sites we’ve reviewed were given a ‘red’ assessment – in other words ‘significant potential commercial, PR or legal risk’. Even more surprising is the low number of organisations who have got such assessments who’ve done anything about it!
So, putting this together: there is a law but it isn’t that successful and many businesses don’t seem to think this is an issue. OK, so what we need to do is find out what this costs businesses and maybe the bottom line will persuade them that website accessibility and usability is important as a business issue.
Working with Business Disability Forum and supported by the RNIB and Enterprise Rent-a-Car we’ve just launched the Click-Away Pound survey, which aims to find out what disabled people’s experiences are when shopping online, what they do about problematic sites and the potential costs to business of not thinking about the issue.
If you have a disability give it a go – only takes 10 minutes and will help improve the Internet experience for disabled people.”
Generously hosted by Barclays at their Canary Wharf HQ, Business Disability Forum’s (BDF) annual Technical Swapshop got underway recently promoting an exceptional array of assistive technology solutions.
Chaired by BDF Associate Rick Williams, attendees were offered the opportunity to hear personal perspectives on the use of assistive technology (AT) and find out about the range of products and services available.
Derek White, Chief Design Officer at Barclays, introduced the event by discussing how AT provides endless benefits for disabled people and non-disabled people also. Using the example of Barclays’ Talking ATM machines, Derek asked if any members of the audience had used this audio function when using a cash point. As several members raised their hand, Derek then asked if anyone in the audience had ever experienced difficulties when using an ATM machine in bright sunlight. As everyone in the room raised their hand, Derek was able to illustrate how AT works to the advantage of everyone.
Moving onto the presentations, Jamie Knight, Senior Accessibility Specialist at the BBC (and his constant plushie companion; Lion) began with a discussion about autism in the workplace. Jamie – who himself has autism, gave his personal insights of coping with autism and also the benefits of using AT.
To reduce sensory distractions in the office, Jamie uses specialised ear defenders. Unlike listening to music through standard headphones, ear defenders allow the wearer to hear a person who is talking directly to them whilst also blocking out unwanted background noise.
Jamie also suggested that having a good level of understanding and flexibility is vital to ensuring an autism friendly workplace. For him, this means often working from home and only having to travel to the office when necessary, ensuring he is not continuously interrupted when working on a project and also having the support available to find an effective work/life balance.
Next to present was Katherine Innes, Business Development Executive at AI-Media who spoke about live event captioning and Simple Text. As AI Media were providing live captions throughout the Swapshop itself, Katherine was in prime position to talk about the range of advantages the service provides.
Simple Text is a live captioning tool specifically designed to help individuals with autism and Asperger syndrome. Simple Text removes metaphors and figurative language and breaks down complex instructions into simple steps.
To illustrate how Simple Text works, Katherine read aloud a piece of text that used a range of complex metaphors and colloquialisms. However, just seconds later when the live captions appeared on screen, the text had been broken down into clear and direct sentences.
The Swapshop then took a break to spend some time visiting the exhibition stands of AT suppliers, including Microlink that had bought along some alternative AT solutions that might support those with autism.
Following on, the audience was joined by Gareth Ford-Williams, Head of Accessibility, User Experience & Design at the BBC. Gareth – who himself has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) gave a presentation on the ways in which organisations can create a working environment that reduces difficulties and distractions for employees with ADHD.
Describing his condition as a “continuous sensory overload,” Gareth recommended the use of wireless noise cancelling headphones to remove audio distraction in the workplace. Gareth also suggested that companies should allow their employees to work flexibly, for example working from home, or working remotely. In terms of visual distraction, Gareth suggested that using neutral colours and patterns in the office space, as opposed to bright colours and highly distractive designs also helps to reduce sensory distractions for employees with ADHD.
Lawrence Keltie, Sales Executive at MatchWare presented the company’s mind mapping software MindView. MindView is a tool that can assist people with autism, Asperger Syndrome and dyslexia to effectively organise their workload through the use of diagrams and visual representations.
MindView helps to breakdown complex information into manageable tasks, which, in turn, helps to highlight the most effective way in which tasks can be ordered and approached. For employees with dyslexia, this is particularly beneficial as the disability can cause difficulties in terms of information sequencing.
The audience was then joined by Rebecca Morgan, Senior Accessibility Analyst at the Digital Accessibility Centre (DAC). Rebecca spoke about her personal experience of being a wheelchair user and how it has affected the way in which people perceive her. She talked about how she was able to gain her Degree and how she now uses AT in her job working for DAC. She now provides accessibility user testing using Dragon NaturallySpeaking software. She has been able to turn her disability into a real advantage and is able to utilise the AT tools that she uses to help others.
Next up, and presenting one of the most popular products on the AT market, Jonathan Whitmore from Nuance took to the stage to present Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Dragon software removes the need for traditional typing and allows users to operate their computer using just their voice. Using a wireless headset, Jonathan exemplified the software’s sophisticated abilities, operating the computer with just his voice. Not only did he show how much quicker dictation is, compared to even the fastest typists, he also demonstrated how you can open up different software packages and navigate around the computer packages with ease.
For individuals with physical disabilities including shorter arms, dexterity impairments, visual impairments, and/or mobility impairments, Dragon technology offers vital assistance and helps to ensure digital inclusion and accessibility.
Cam Nicholl, Director of Sales and Service Development from the Digital Accessibility Centre (DAC) also spoke about building in empathy with developers. The developers within our organisation are the key to embedding accessibility technically. If we can ‘win them over’ and explain to them what a difference it makes to individuals with impairments, then they will build accessibility into their design, as they would do with security requirements. Cam showed us a video of Ziad and the difference that AT has made to him personally http://www.digitalaccessibilitycentre.org/index.php/videos/42-screen-magnification-demo.
Finalising the presentations, Kathryn Townsend, Strategic Transformation Leader at Barclays spoke about the excellent work Barclays have been doing regarding disabled customers.
Discussing the use of Beacon Technology – whereby disabled customers can inform the bank of their requirements through an app on their phone, Kathryn also discussed the recent launch of Barclays in-branch SignVideo service.
Barclays’ deaf customers can now enter their local branch and communicate directly with a SignVideo BSL interpreter via an iPad video call. The interpreter then relays the conversation to the Barclays advisor and vice versa to the customer.
This initiative has revolutionised the way Barclays’ deaf BSL customers can carry out their banking and fully supports Barclays aim to be the most accessible and inclusive bank.
The Technical Swapshop will be back in February next year to showcase the latest advances in AT. We look forward to seeing you there!