Over the past decade, AbilityNet has undertaken a number of innovative projects enabling thousands more disabled people – from pre-schoolers to senior citizens – to benefit from the power of technology. Working alone or in dynamic partnerships or consortia, at home and abroad, at grassroots level and in online communities, AbilityNet is always interested in promoting digital inclusion for those whose impairment makes computer and internet access difficult.
Sense-Park: Better data for better understanding of Parkinson's
AbilityNet’s European-funded Sense-Park project will provide a revolutionary new assessment tool designed specifically for people with Parkinson’s – a disease, which affects sufferers in diverse and wide ranging ways.
By continuously capturing personal data, Sense-Park will not only improve the individual’s understanding of their own condition, it will enable clinicians to development far more precisely tailored and closely managed treatment plans for their patients by supplying in-depth and up-to-date information to their clinicians.
For more information see: www.sense-park.eu
ATIS4ALL: Assistive technologies and inclusive solutions for everyone
ATIS4ALL is a three year research project funded by the ‘Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme’ (CIP) of the European Commission. Alongside other ATIS4ALL consortium members led by Spanish-based, Technosite, AbilityNet is working to establish an open, collaborative portal offering reliable information on ICT-based assistive technologies, inclusive solutions and R&D initiatives.
With the objective of facilitating the more active participation of disabled and elderly people in society across all European Union member states, ATIS4ALL aims to nurture online discussion, knowledge exchange and expertise among their different portal user members.
For further information, see www.atis4all.eu
APSIS4all: New generation accessibility in ticket and cash vending machines
Partially funded by the ‘Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme’ (CIP) of the European Commission, APSIS4all is a three year project which aims to make ‘Public Digital Terminals’ such as ATMs and ticket vending machines accessible for people with disabilities and older people. Working within a consortium of key players in the field of assistive technology, AbilityNet is seeking to increase user satisfaction and usability, regardless of disability, age or digital literacy, by developing innovative, more personalised interfaces.
The newly launched, fully inclusive option will be deployed by 2013 in real-life settings by leading Spanish bank, La Caixa at 65 Barcelona-based ATMs and by leading German parking and transport ticket vending machine supplier, Höft & Wesselin, at 24 of their machines in Paderborn (Germany).
Find out more at www.apsis4all.eu
Recent projects have developed and delivered a range of accessibility and assistive technology resources to a range of different people.
Brain Able: Using Brain Wave Technology to connect disabled people to their physical and social world
AbilityNet is conducting pioneering research into BNCI (Brain-Neural-Computer-Interaction) at Liverpool’s John Moores University, in partnership with a European consortium funded by the European Union.
The ‘Brainable’ project is working with disabled volunteers to investigate the viability of recording and using brain activity (through sensors which can be worn without the need for implants or wires) to interact with and control a computer, with the eventual goal of providing assistive technology to people with 'locked in syndrome'. It is hoped that BNCI will give those with no other opportunity to express themselves the ability to interact with others and their environment.
For more information see www.brainable.org
Issues around digital content
Funding from the Nominet Trust gave AbilityNet the opportunity to examine and highlight some of the issues that prevent online content from being accessible to disabled people. A project website was created targeting educational and public access centres and providing a range of resources and reference materials to facilitate the generation of accessible digital material. By the end of the project, over 2500 had received an accessibility assessment of some kind.
Geographically remote but not excluded
AbilityNet’s Welsh Remote Assessment Project was funded by the Big Lottery and designed to reach disabled people in isolated rural communities in Wales. By supplying adaptive equipment, training and on-going remote support across 42 discrete areas from Anglesey to Merthyr Tydfil and Port Talbot to Powys, AbilityNet’s outreach work helped over 2000 new clients.
Pioneering pre-school work with SEN children
Thanks to Big Lottery funding, AbilityNet was able to show clearly how children with SEN can benefit both developmentally and socially by developing computer skills through play at a crucially formative age. Nearly 1500 pre-schoolers in nine regions nationwide were able to take advantage of the Play at IT scheme, with support from 36 participating Early Years teams in playgroups, children’s centres and nurseries where AbilityNet supplied both hardware and software, as well as training for professionals in the field.
Helping pre-school children in Northern Ireland get in touch with technology
With funding from the Roald Dahl Foundation and working with five regional Education and Library Boards across Northern Ireland, AbilityNet supported 26 nursery schools, providing training, assessments and a loan bank of hardware and software adaptations for pre-school children with SEN. For these youngsters, an early introduction to some of the adaptive equipment they may come to rely upon in later life and the opportunity to be involved in inclusive play activities is an invaluable advantage as they enter the school system.
Working with the voluntary sector to promote digital access and inclusion
Big Lottery funding enabled AbilityNet to build on its grassroots work with voluntary and community organisations across the UK under the ‘Sustaining Switched on Communities’ project. With continued levels of support, equipment and training to facilitate public access, previously digitally excluded people were able to acquire IT skills in locations as diverse as cyber cafés, community centres and libraries. In all, ‘Sustaining Switched on Communities’ provided computer and Internet access for some 30,000 individuals through regionally-based community partners such as Age Concern and the Hope Foundation.