+++E-Access Bulletin - Issue 154, January 2013.

Access To Technology For All, Regardless Of Ability

A Headstar Publication. http://www.headstar.com/eab/ . In Association With Go ON Gold: http://www.go-on-gold.co.uk/ .

Please forward this free bulletin to others So they can subscribe directly, at no cost. (subscription details at the end).

++Section One: News.


+01: Elderly Needs Study Could Be First “Crowdfunded”Social Research

A study into the consumer needs of elderly and disabled residents of a UK town could be the UK’s first piece of social research to be “crowdfunded”, E-Access Bulletin has learned.

The project was developed by the non-profit campaign group Eastbourne Designed For All ( http://www.eastbournedesignedforall.co.uk/ ), which aims to pass on advice to businesses in the Sussex town on how to design products and services to be as accessible as possible to the area’s high proportion of elderly and disabled residents.

A local company has offered to carry out the market research study, “Understanding Eastbourne’s Needs”, for a discounted fee of £4,200. Eastbourne Designed For All is now using the crowdfunding website “Peoplefund.it” ( http://bit.ly/13mXaFT ) to source this fee.

Each project on the site is allocated a target fund figure and deadline, with backers offered rewards from the project team depending on the size of their pledge, such as (in the case of the Eastbourne project) free consultancy from a local business support organisation. Pledges will only be cashed in if the full target sum is met by the deadline.

Tom Serpell, founder and director of Designed For All, told E- Access Bulletin the project is the first time in the UK that crowdfunding had been used to fund research, but that it seemed the logical choice for an organisation like theirs.

“Because we are a social enterprise we’re not funded, and it’s difficult to raise money, so we decided crowdsourcing might be the way forward. It provides new ways of linking people. We’re hoping to make Eastbourne the UK’s first ‘inclusive town’ as a result of the work.”

If the project is commissioned, Serpell expects the results to build on findings from previous research conducted by Designed For All partner the University of Brighton, which revealed that town infrastructures can be difficult to negotiate for elderly and disabled residents, due to features such as high pavement curbs and signage being difficult to read for those with visual impairments. At time of writing, Understanding Eastbourne’s Needs had received £850 of its £4,200 target, with 22 days remaining until the deadline.

Online crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular method of acquiring funds for social and community projects, with other platforms such as Spacehive also growing in prominence.

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=809

+02: User Priorities Must Drive Accessible Ict Research,Warns Telecoms Expert

Research and investment priorities for the digital economy and development of internet services and mobile devices must reflect the needs of disabled and elderly people, a telecommunications expert has warned.

In a video address to a London event on the future of accessible ICT research ( http://bit.ly/T0SkH2 ), Dr Mike Short, vice president of Telefónica Europe and former president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said customer demand for more accessible services has risen over the past ten years. Accordingly, mobile network providers need to think about different groups of users when planning for future growth, including the benefits that universal design can offer to everybody, Short said.

Internet access from mobile devices is also increasing, and developments in smartphones and tablets have made it easier for people with a sensory impairment to use these devices, said Short, citing larger screens, more adjustable font sizes and increased use of touch-screen technology.

However, direct information from these groups on their priorities when using digital services and mobile devices is needed to aid research and ensure that future services are developed appropriately, he said. “What we don’t always have is the right range of inputs or priorities from the accessibility community, those people who are in some way suffering difficulties through hearing or seeing or other issues”.

Similar input is also needed from people who are ageing and people with long-term health conditions, Short told delegates.

Speaking to E-Access Bulletin before the event, he said mobile apps needed to become more “generation-friendly”. “We need to move towards a world of inclusion and internet for all, where we’re talking about everybody having access and a much more inclusive range of digital services available”.

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=807

+03: Autism Communication App Wins Smart Accessibilityaward

A Spanish developer who created an app to help his five-year- old autistic son communicate has won 50,000 euros at the second annual “Smart Accessibility” awards for Android smartphone apps, presented by the Vodafone Foundation.

Ablah ( http://bit.ly/10JJ5F6 ) is an augmentative communication application developed by Juan Carlos Gonzalez. Users select images, text and sounds on a touch- screen to make the device “speak” for them.

Ablah was one of four category winners at the 2013 awards, topping the ‘Wellbeing’ category.

The ‘Mobility’ category was won by the Jaccede app ( http://bit.ly/VF0kT1 ), which allows users to search for locations that are accessible to people with a disability. Information is displayed on features such as step-free entrances to buildings and whether accessible toilets are available, and users can contribute their own accessible locations.

The Happen app ( http://bit.ly/VF2n9J ), winner of the Independent Living category, is a customisable tool aimed at those with a visual impairment and the elderly. It allows users to easily search for popular online information such as news and weather, and then choose the format they receive it in. For example, someone with a visual impairment may choose to have the information spoken to them.

The fourth category, Social Participation, was won by Starting Blocks ( http://bit.ly/R6JETT ). This app teaches basic mobile technology skills through eight lessons, which guide users through key functions of touch-screen technology.

The awards, co-organised by the AGE Platform Europe network and the European Disability Network, form part of the Vodafone Foundation’s Mobile For Good programme, which supports global community projects using mobile technology.

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=804

++News in Brief:


+Inclusion Sector Across Europe Are Being Asked To Fill Out A Survey Commissioned By A Research Arm Of The European Commission, The Institute For Prospective Technological Studies. The Survey Hopes To Deepen Understanding Of E- Inclusion Intermediaries And Their Work, As Well As Building A Map Of The Organisations And The Services They Offer. Any Organisation Or Centre That Tackles Digital Inclusion Or Simply Provides Public Access To Computers Or Digital Technology Is Invited To Take Part Before 15 February:

Quick link: http://svy.mk/WAz4TY

+05: European Feedback:

E-Access Bulletin readers are invited to offer their feedback on a European Commission proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and Council on “Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ Websites”, published in December. The proposed directive will require public sector websites to comply with W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 at the AA level. Now, Jorge Fernandes of the accessibility team at the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science, would like to hear E-Access Bulletin readers’ views on the proposals to help formulate his agency's response to the commission. Follow the link below to read the proposals and then email your thoughts to Jorge on: jorge.f@netcabo.pt once you have examined them:

Quick link: http://bit.ly/SryMy4

+06: Repairs Needed:

Fix The Web, an online platform that allows disabled computer users to complain about inaccessible websites (volunteers then contact the website owners) continues to seek partners and resources. After initial funding from the Nominet Trust, the project has struggled to keep going (see also E-Access Bulletin 143: http://bit.ly/uxOEMv ), and Gail Bradbrook, the project’s manager, has used the UN- backed G3ict website to renew a plea for organisations to help the project continue:

Quick link: http://bit.ly/117T1ac

[Section One ends].

++Section Two: 'The Inbox'- Readers' Forum.


Please email all contributions or responses to: inbox@headstar.com .

+07: Net Possibilities:

Regular correspondent Fay Rohrlach from South Australia writes in with a response to last issue’s item which found that many older people (70% of people aged 75 and over) have never used the internet, according to the UK’s Office of National Statistics.

In fact there are many positive opportunities for older people, Fay writes.

“I learned to use a computer more than 20 years ago and since then, I just love it, I can’t leave the jolly thing alone! I’m finding that with the use of ZoomText [a screen magnifier], I can read comfortably off the screen.

“There are so many interesting things on there. It’s amazing how we’ve had printed matter all the way through our lives, that all of a sudden, we now no longer need them anymore, yet, I just can’t imagine what life would be like without the real thing, to be able to have a book in hand, whether it’s Braille or print.

“I am 63 years of age now these days, and I know that our world has not only changed, sometimes for the better, other times maybe not, but hey, that’s life, isn't it?”

She signs off with a New Year wish: “I [hope] 2013 may bring you all that you would wish for it to be, and those of you who are looking for employment, will get what you want, and not what the organisations for the blind say you should be having.”

[Comments please to inbox@headstar.com ].

[Section Two ends].

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++Section Three: Profile- Karen Darke, Adventurer and Paralympian


+08: A Thirst For Adventureby Tristan Parker

Paralympic athlete and adventurer Karen Darke has always been a keen sports and outdoor enthusiast. At the age of 21 she became paralysed from the chest down after a climbing accident, but this did nothing to quell her passion for adventure. Over the coming years she undertook numerous intrepid – and often dangerous – trips across the globe before training for the 2012 Paralympic Games, where she competed as a member of the British Cycling Team.

Darke took part in several handcycling events at the London Games, including the road race over 48km (where she captured the headlines by crossing the finish line hand-in-hand with British team-mate Rachel Morris) and the road time trial over 16km, in which she earned a silver medal. Recently, she has supported Go ON Gold, a national campaign to raise awareness of the importance of access to technology by disabled people. Tristan Parker (TP) caught up with her (no mean feat) to ask her about her life, plans and greatest achievements:

TP: Please give us some background information on yourself, and how you became interested in sports.

KD: I started into outdoor sports when I was at school. Climbing, caving, running, etc. This carried on with walking holidays with my parents, a youth expedition when I was 17, and mountain biking.

TP: Did your accident at 21-years-old change your outlook on life and how you wanted to approach sporting achievements?

KD: I don’t think so. I was already keen on sport and the outdoors so that didn’t change, but I was lucky to have a circle of friends who enjoyed those activities and were willing to help me find new ways to do them. A close friend died in a climbing accident only a few months after my own accident and that had an impact on me – it made me think about what I could do instead of what I couldn’t.

TP: In the 2012 Paralympics you represented Great Britain in handcycling, but you also take part in many other activities and sports – is cycling something that you have a particular affinity with?

KD: Yes, I’ve always been a keen cyclist, though before my accident I preferred not to be on the roads, but on a mountain bike (now a really old-fashioned one without suspension!). Really, though, I just enjoy anything that takes you into the outdoors, but particularly where you get to be in a different position from sat in a wheelchair, feeling the wind in your hair, your lungs working… You get the idea.

TP: Do you use any kinds of technology on a regular basis?

KD: A Mac laptop, iPhone and internet connectivity all the time. It’s kind of central to my work and life now.

TP: Has technology made living with a disability any easier for you?

KD: Not IT particularly, though it perhaps opens more areas of work up, given that you don’t have to be able to walk to use technology.

TP: What kinds of barriers do you think that people with disabilities face in accessing and using technology and getting online? What could be done to remove these barriers?

KD: Cost would be a barrier to some, and hassle of getting set up. Maybe also the support to use equipment. I would love to use more than I do on my laptop – make movies, etc, but lack of time and know-how prevent me. Perhaps having access to an IT buddy would be good – though I’m sure it would be good for everybody, regardless of disability.

TP: And what kinds of benefits can technology access and getting online bring to people with disabilities?

KD: It does help being able to access information, online forums and websites so easily. I can get whatever information is available about equipment developments, opinions, etc, in an instant. When I was first injured, computers weren’t so common, and accessing information was harder. IT is a great way of connecting up a minority group, e.g. into sport and with a disability.

TP: What would you say have been your greatest or most significant achievements over the years?

KD: - Staying positive. - Training for the Paralympics and committing 100% to it – and being fitter than ever at age 41. - Overcoming barriers and challenges with groups of friends to complete some amazing journeys (sea kayaking from Canada to Alaska, skiing across Greenland...)

TP: How did it feel to win a medal at the 2012 Paralympics?

KD: Relief. I worked really hard for it and gave it 100 per cent and more for the two years prior, so it was a relief that the hard work paid off and brought a medal home. Shame it wasn’t a Gold one, but it’s also good to have goals to chase! It’s very special having the medal though, mainly because children love it, so I love sharing it with them – seeing their faces light up and hearing about their goals and aspirations.

TP: What do you have planned for the future? And are you hoping to take part in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games?

KD: I’m staying on the cycling squad. I’m also dabbling in paratriathlon, as I was out at the World Championships in New Zealand in October, and ended up winning. I enjoy the variety with swimming and wheelchair racing as it’s been pretty dedicated cycling, cycling, cycling for a while! However, my main commitment is still to the bike, and I’m on the British Cycling squad going forward with a view to Rio. But in 2013 we hope to ‘snow-bike’ from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole, and raise a big chunk of money for Back Up (a charity that transforms lives after spinal cord injury). The website is www.poleofpossibility.com. We need a nice corporate sponsor to make it happen, but in the meantime we’re on a training trip to Norway in January.

NOTE: This interview first appeared on the website of Go ON Gold, the national campaign to raise awareness of the barriers faced by disabled and elderly people in accessing technology. E-Access Bulletin is the campaign’s official publication. To find out more about how you can help, visit: http://www.go-on-gold.co.uk/ .

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=802

[Section Three ends].

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++End Notes.


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Copyright 2013 Headstar Ltd http://www.headstar.com . The Bulletin may be reproduced as long as all parts including this copyright notice are included, and as long as people are always encouraged to subscribe with us individually by email. Please also inform the editor when you are reproducing our content. Sections of the bulletin may be quoted as long as they are clearly sourced as 'taken from e-access bulletin, a free monthly email newsletter', and our web site address: http://www.headstar.com/eab is also cited.


  • Editor: Dan Jellinek.
  • Reporter: Tristan Parker.
  • Editorial advisor: Kevin Carey.

ISSN 1476-6337.

[Issue 154 ends].