Empowering others is what the Tech4Good awards are all about. And this year's finalists in the Tech4Good BT Connected Society Award encapsulate this aim perfectly.
The finalist list demonstrates how technology can be used simply or more intricately to help connect and empower those who need each other.
In the top four is SignVideo. This idea was born in response to the frustration of the deaf British Sign Language (BSL) community who can find it incredibly difficult to communicate with hearing people and do normal, everyday things like visit the doctor or contact a service provider.
Ten years ago, Jeff McWhinney created a Video Relay Services and Video Remote Interpreting provider to enable communication between the community of over 150,000 deaf BSL users in the UK and hearing people.
This service is available instantly on tablets, smartphones, computers and laptops via apps and software for communication between friends, family, ordering a take away or going to the bank. The company has partnered with organisations such as BT, Barclays, HSBC, SSE, British Gas, Sky, Santander, DWP, Nationwide, RBS, Natwest, Prudential and more who offer the service to customers.
Connecting families with disabled children
Next is Sky Badger is an online charity connecting the families of disabled children. “When your child gets diagnosed with a medical condition or disability, it can feel like the loneliest place to be. You don’t know what to do, you don’t know where to turn. Sky Badger was created to give power back to families, so they know how to help their children to have the brightest futures,” said Naomi Marek from Sky Badger.
“We are here to empower other parents to connect. Technology has allowed us to share tools, to make a real difference that continues to be shared 24 hours a day in every corner of the UK.”
Atticus Link is web app founded to enable the efficient delivery of pro bono legal advice and improve the experience of advice seekers, advisors and the legal centres that support them. The app automates the routine fact-finding exercise common during legal centre appointments and provides a secure environment to review, evaluate and advise on legal issues remotely.
The Founders are addressing a systemic and growing problem in the UK: the decline in access to legal advice and the rise of advice deserts.
Linking lawyers with those critically in need of advice
One of the founders Fatiha explains: “Today, people who might be in a difficult legal situation will have access to justice without leaving their house. They will be able to use either their computer or their phone to log onto the Atticus-Link app. They will not have to wait in a queue with no guarantee to be heard. This, to me, is priceless, an amazing innovation that will make people’s lives easier and save their time.”
Completing the category, we have the OrCam MyEye, a wearable vision device gives people their independence back. MyEye provides advanced text-to-speech from any surface, sign, document or computer. Users will be able to identify regular shopping items and products around the home, and they won’t have to worry about not recognising familiar faces, as it stores them too.
It helps those who are visually impaired or blind, as well as those who struggle with learning difficulties such as dyslexia.
MyEye does not require an internet connection or power outlets to operate. A tiny camera fits onto the side of any glasses and this connects to a pocket-sized computer and battery pack.