Apps for well-being and mental health

We use technology to enhance our lives every day by shopping online, keeping up to date with friends and making travel plans, but have you thought about using apps to look after your mental health? Stress is present in all of our lives at varying times but for students this is a particularly stressful point in the year with exams, essays and dissertations due, not to mention MA applications. Managing our wellbeing can largely increase our productivity in times of stress.

There are all sorts of apps being developed all the time so we’ve chosen five of our current favourites.

Please note, whilst these apps can be helpful, they are not a replacement for seeking medical advice if you have concerns about any symptoms you are experiencing.

SAM app: SAM will help you to understand what causes your anxiety, monitor your anxious thoughts and behaviour over time and manage your anxiety through self-help exercises and private reflection.This app has been developed in collaboration with a research team from UWE, Bristol.

SAM app on mobile phone

In Hand: This app has been made by a team of people passionate about technology and destigmatising mental health. They have worked together for nearly a year to create an app that promotes awareness of mental well being and could help you in a moment of anxiety or low mood.

In Hand app

Stay Alive: The first of its kind in the UK, the Stay Alive app is a free, nationwide suicide prevention pocket resource, packed full of useful information to help you stay safe. Their vision is that no one has to contemplate suicide alone, the app is designed to be a lifeline for people at risk of suicide.

Stay Alive app

Stop Breathe Think: A friendly app to guide people through meditations for mindfulness & compassion. Check in with how you’re feeling and try short activities tuned to your emotions.

 Stop, Breathe & Think app

Headspace: Headspace is designed to enourage positivity through meditation. Live a happier, healthier life with just a few minutes of meditation a day.

Headspace app

5 new accessibility features in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update released this month has promised ‘breakthroughs in creativity’ – offering options for mixed reality and faster broadcasting for gaming. But, the update - free until the end of the year - also offers several new and updated accessibility features.

Here we offer a snapshot of those updates and what they offer disabled people.

Microsft's latest OS update provides a range of assistive technologies

Eye Control

A beta version of the much talked about Eye Control is now available. It means those who use eye movements for communication, such as people with physical disabilites, can now combine a compatible eye tracker with Windows 10 to operate an on-screen mouse, keyboard and text-to-speech experience.

New Learning Tools capabilities in Microsoft Edge (the new Internet Explorer)

Microsoft Learning Tools are a set of features designed to make it easier for people with learning differences like dyslexia to read, says Microsoft. In this update, a user can mow simultaneously highlight and listen to text in web pages and PDF documents to read and increase focus.

Dictation on the Desktop



This feature already allowed people with vision, mobility and cognitive disabilities to speak into their microphone, and convert that using Windows Speech Recognition into text that appears on screen. In the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, a person can now use dictation to input text (English only) in a wider variety of ways and applications. As well as dictating text, you can also use voice commands to do basic editing or to input punctuation.

Narrator Screenreader new image descriptions and Magnifier link up

Microsofts screen reader - Narrator - now uses Microsoft Cognitive Services to generate image descriptions for pictures that lack alternative text. For websites or apps that don’t have alt-text built in, this feature will provide quick and accurate descriptions of an image. It's also now possible to use Magnifier with Narrator, so you can zoom in on text and have it read aloud.

Colour Filters for colour blindness colour blindness

Color Filters help those with colour blindness more easily distinguish between colours. All installed software and third-party apps will follow the filter a users sets up. The colour filters are available in greyscale, invert, greyscale inverted, Deuteranopia, Protanopia or Tritanopia.

More information

17 big ways tech is helping disabled people achieve goals: 2016 International Day of Persons with Disabilities #idpd

There are 12 million disabled people in the UK, and an estimated 1.1 billion worldwide. Since 1992 the UN has promoted a day of observance and understanding of disability issue and this year's theme is is 'Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want'. We asked 17 of our followers, supporters and staff about the role of technology can play in achieving current and future life goals.

What is the role of technology in achieving life goals for disabled people?

Prof Stephen Hawking has achieved amazing things in his life thanks to technology

Professor Stephen Hawking

“I was lucky to be born in the computer age, without computers my life would have been miserable and my scientific career impossible. Technology continues to empower people of all abilities and AbilityNet continues to help disabled people in all walks of life.” (2012)

Kate Headley, Director of Consulting, The Clear Company

“As someone who now has limited vision, I can honestly say that technology has been the game changer for me. Although I have no secrets - with large font on phone and computer and I regularly share my texts out loud with fellow passengers. But I am independent at home and at work and just awaiting the driverless car!”

Joanna Wootten: Age, Disability and Inclusion expert at Solutions Included

“Technology has transformed my working life. As a deaf person I can now communicate directly with hearing people using emails, text messages, live messaging, or have conversations with them via Skype or FaceTime.  For larger meetings, the advent of reliable wifi means I can use my mobile phone or tablet to access remote captioning so I don't miss a word."
 

Sarah-Jane Peake, assistive technology trainer, Launchpad Assistive Technology

"Working one-to-one with students, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the wonderful impact technology can make to someone with a disability or specific learning disabilities. The confidence of being able to proof-read an essay using text-to-speech, the independence offered by voice recognition software that finally allows a student to fully express their ideas, or the relief felt by a student who has just discovered mind-mapping strategies that compliment the way they think. Technology is changing people’s lives."
 

Sean Douglas

Sean Douglas, founder of dyslexia podcast The Codpast

"There's masses of tech out there that allows people with disabilities to reach their full potential. Long gone are the days when assistive tech was cumbersome, expensive and specialist, now your smart phone can give you much of the help you need to deal with everyday tasks you may find difficult. "Surprisingly a lot of this assistive functionality is built into your phone's operating system or is available from third parties for free or for a small charge."

Georgina Eversfield Tanner, client of AbilityNet's ITCanHelp volunteering service

I've never had a computer before, but it's opened up a whole new world since my stroke. But I did say one day to Andy, my ITCanHelp volunteer from AbilityNet, 'what idiot put Angry Birds on there. There are so many of them and I'm absolutely hooked! Technology and AbilityNet has helped me tremendously to be in the modern world." See more of Georgina here in our video. 

Gareth Ford WIlliams is Head of Accessibility at BBC Design and Engineering

Gareth Ford Williams, Head of Accessibility, BBC Design and Engineering

“For many disabled people, a simple daily goal is to enjoy the same entertainment options. For video and TV that could mean captioning or audio descriptions, or using the text to speech features in their computer or phone to read out newspapers, magazines or blogs.”

Abbie Osborne, Assessor for AbilityNet

“Education is a vital way for disabled people to achieve their goals. I work with many students who face cognitive impairments such as dyslexia and dyspraxia, which make it difficult for them to organise their thoughts.

"Zotero is one of the most popular free tools I recommend. It takes the pain out of managing references when you’re working on essays and reports and integrates with Microsoft Word to use those references in whichever style you require. It works for Mac and PC, creates an alphabetical list of your sources (bibliography) and can keep track across multiple essays.”

Robin ChristophersonRobin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion, AbilityNet

“Technology helps everyone reach their full potential. Like nothing else on this planet, technology can embrace people’s differences and provide choice – choice to suit everyone and empower them to achieve their goals both at work and at play. On this day, please raise the cheer for technology and digital inclusion, wherever in the world you are.”

Morgan Lobb, Director, Diversity Jobs

“Assistive technology makes a real difference, without spellchecker I’d be doomed!”

Nicola Whitehill

Nicola Whitehill - founder of Facebook Group: Raynauds Scleroderma Awareness

“The internet is a lifeline for me. I'm under house arrest with Raynauds, but I still run a global community in my pyjamas!”

Nigel Lewis, CEO of AbilityNet

“Accessible technology can really help disabled people live their lives fuller, let’s all work together to make tech accessible and inclusive on this #idpd and always.”

Sarah Simcoe - chair of SEED Network, Fujitsu UK and Ireland

“Technology plays an important part in building an environment of accessibility and enablement – the use of tools, software and hardware in enabling disabled talent to fulfill their full potential is key to innovation and business growth.”

Hector Minto, Accessibility Evangelist, Microsoft

“There are so many things: Social media and the cloud's ability to connect us all and find people who can relate to our experience. Text communication and short messages are a great leveler. Images and video convey messages much more quickly. Twitter chats, blogs, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn groups all offer professionals with huge amounts of experience somewhere to share their knowledge. 

"It's all part of the Global Cloud for Good agenda - we need to understand Industrial Revolution 4.0 - the Internet of Things, and automation for example - and our place in it. We need a socially responsible cloud which improves life for everyone and leaves nobody behind.

"Finally I still think eyegaze as a direct control method needs to be tried first for people with physical access issues. The price is changing and the previously held view that it was only for those that had tried everything else is completely out of date but pervasive.”

Bela Gor is a Disability Legal Adviser at Business Disability ForumBela Gor, Disability Legal Adviser, Business Disability Forum

“In twenty years of disability discrimination legislation, the biggest change has been that what was once impossible or unreasonably difficult is now entirely possible - because of technology. Technology means that the way we all live and work has changed immeasurably and 'reasonable adjustments' for disabled people have become the ordinary way of life for everyone because of the technology on our desks, in our pockets and in our homes and workplaces.”

Kate Nash OBE, founder of PurpleSpace community of disability employee networks

"At PurpleSpace we are massive advocates of virtual networking and learning. While our members have a wide range of disabilities, the accessibility features built into smartphones, tablets and PCs mean that we can keep in touch and share career development opportunities on an equal level regardless of the different ways that we access technologies."

Ed Holland leads Driven MediaEdward Hollands, founder of Driven Media UK

“I use lots of assistance software to over come my spelling and grammar issues to look more professional as a founder. I don't write anything without Grammarly now. It's like having my own copywriter! Anyone who is dyslexic should definitely get it.”

How can AbilityNet help you make the most of tech?

AbilityNet staff gain national volunteer management qualification

AbilityNet staff have completed a national qualification in volunteer management to support their work with a network of over 8,000 volunteers with IT skills. This will help them support the continued growth of the volunteer network, who help meets the IT needs of charities and disabled people. Volunteer Administrator Josie Ray and Advice and Information Officer Alex Barker have both been awarded the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Certification.

“It made sense to study for this qualification as AbilityNet works closely with volunteers” said Alex. "We have a UK-wide team of volunteers who provide home visits for disabled people in the community. They are all CRB/Disclosure checked and can help with all kinds of technical issues, from installing broadband and removing viruses to setting up new software and backups. We also have a network of IT professionals who provide IT support to charities, including web design, databases and troubleshooting and helping to reduce costs and improve services. ”

Volunteering manager Anne Stafford said “It is important to AbilityNet that we deliver high standards & our volunteers are important members of our team. I am pleased that our staff have the opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism in volunteer engagement.”

More information:

Mind the Digital Gap: AbilityNet proposes new digital inclusion strategy

In our increasingly digital self-service economy technology now dominates shopping, entertainment, work and communication, as well as citizenship itself, but age and disability are barring people from full participation. Organisations like AbilityNet, Go ON UK and its disability focused partner, Go ON Gold, are making great strides to close the gap between the computer literate and the technologically disenfranchised, but the gulf is wider than that. 

AbilityNet’s new digital inclusion strategy ‘Mind the Digital Gap’ looks at the obstacles faced by the huge numbers of people who struggle to use digital technologies that are badly designed and just don't meet their needs. AbilityNet believes that we urgently need to recognise the social and economic costs of this digital gap, and identify clear actions to begin closing it.

Mind the Digital Gap logoThe strategy was launched at the House of Commons on 21 November at a reception hosted by Anne McGuire MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People. It calls for better design practices through implementing user-focused testing at all stages of the design of digital systems (rather than relying on post-hoc accessibility checks).

AbilityNet urges those who commission and build online services, operating systems and digital devices (whether business, government or third sector) to put a user-centred approach at the heart of the design process. The strategy also proposes tax incentives to promote inclusive design, closer partnerships between business and other sectors and a commitment to embed inclusive design at all levels of professional design education.

AbilityNet CEO Nigel Lewis says it's time to change how we design and deliver inclusive digital systems:

"For too long the debate about accessibility has focused on issues that are specific to disabled people, but testing a website after it has been built, or pursuing legal action to ensure that every website includes alt-tags for people who use a screen reader, just isn't working.

“There is a much more important strategic issue at stake and we need a new approach that goes beyond what we currently think of as ‘Accessibility’. To close that gap, it’s imperative that business, government and the third sector work together."

AbilityNet patron and chair of Go ON UK Martha Lane Fox agrees and believes that in addition to making design practices more inclusive we need to focus equipping people with the skills they need to participate in the digital age:

"Both Go ON UK and AbilityNet are working on building digital skills to enable everyone to benefit as much as possible from available technology."

The full strategy is available for download on the AbilityNet website.

 

Anne McGuire MP and Nigel Lewis of AbilityNet at the launch of AbilityNet's Mind the Digital Gap, House of Commons, November 2012'

Shadow Minister for Disabled People Anne McGuire with AbilityNet CEO Nigel Lewis at the reception at the House of Commons.

See more pictures from the event on Flickr

Is there an Echo in here? Six ways that Alexa can help you be organised and productive

We now have three Amazon Echos in our house and, more and more often, I find myself about to speak to the air in a room where Alexa isn't, and have to stop myself before I look foolish. Here's a round-up of recent episodes from my Dot to Dot podcast which show why smart speakers like the Amazon Echo (AKA Alexa) and Google Home are so useful - and also addictive.

Simpler than a smartphone

Smart speakers really do represent the next significant paradigm shift in computing.

The PC was powerful but also complex. Then came the smartphone which, with its smaller screen, brought simpler content with the same amount of power and much more portability. Throw away your software instructions manuals and antivirus anxieties and enjoy the all-round easier experience. One didn't replace the other, but choice is a good thing - especially when the options are getting easier and easier to use.

Then came these natural-voice focused devices and the simplicity score just shot up several more notches. Again, not intended to replace smartphones or computers, these devices offer huge amounts of useful features nonetheless.

Information, entertainment, services and so much more

Most of us use our phones for so many different things each day that it would be hard to list them all. While smart speakers can't (yet) do all of those things, due to their ease of use and overall usefulness, it's inevitable that having one or more in your house will mean that some of those daily tasks will shift from your phone to the helpful assistant who is ever-listening and ready to help.

A lot of what I cover in Dot to Dot - the daily podcast about all things Alexa - focuses on entertainment, and she is so very good at a wide variety of games. But it's not just about trivia - I recently dedicated a series of episodes to the way Alexa can help with being organised and productive.

Six ways Alexa can help in your daily life

These episodes give you a flavour of Alexa's awesome array of talents. You can click on the links to listen to each one - or you can subscribe in iTunes or by searching for 'Dot to Dot' in your favourite podcast app. 

Dot to Dot - Episode 522 on finding out general information

  • This one's all about getting general information from Alexa - from facts on every possible topic, to detailed weather info, word definitions and synonyms and language translation.

Dot to Dot Episode 523 - on health and cooking

  • From recipes and cooking tips to first aid info and stopping smoking motivation - this one’s all about health. As with all these episodes, we cover Alexa's built-in abilities as well as third-party skills. What are skills? They're basically apps for your Echo.

Dot to Dot Episode 524 - on news, timers and alarms

  • Some of the most useful things you could ever use your Echo for are setting multiple cooking timers and a variety of alarms to make sure you're up in the morning. When you're up, there are a million ways of catching up with the news.

Dot to Dot Episode 525 - on accessing media of all kinds

  • Music, radio stations and podcasts from around the world are available on your Echo and there's a huge amount of educational and informative content to be consumed. The challenge is just where to start.

Dot to Dot Episode 526 - on reminders, connected devices, voice calling and audio and Kindle books

  • This one is chock-full of tips on setting reminders, connecting to smart devices around the home, calling and messaging using your Echo and even listening to your favourite audio or Kindle books read out by Alexa. Oh and buying things by voice from Amazon - nearly forgot that one!

Dot to Dot Episode 527 - on travel info and tips on finding Alexa skills

  • This final episode (and a gold star to everyone who listens to/survives them all) covers a range of travel skills to help you find the best driving route, check the traffic or get train times and the cheapest fares. We also cover how to ask Alexa to help you find out what she can do and how to remember your favourite skills.

Clever, entertaining and useful

I hope you'll agree that smart speakers like Alexa are amazingly useful and entertaining on so many levels. For people with disabilities, the ability to get news and other information by voice and to control your media and environment with a word is a game-changer.

The episodes in this article focus on her non-game skills, but to hear what Alexa can do in the game-department then simply subscribe to Dot to Dot and you'll find out a lot more on a daily basis.

Related articles

Robin Christopherson is head of digital inclusion at AbilityNet. Find more of his blogs here. 
 

3 positive habit forming apps

How do we break our bad habits and form good ones?

Summer is well and truly here and it’s a good time for students to be building momentum for the new academic year. For all of us working, it’s a good time to refelct on how we might better manage our time so we can enjoy those precious moments of time out. Let’s face it when we’ve been in education or work life for years it’s easy to assume we’ve formed some habits that would be better off booted out of our regimes. Good habits can help us be more productive, prioritise our do-to lists and remember our important tasks. You can feel satisfied too by tracking your progress through small, manageable goal posts.

Kicking bad habits or establishing new ones is not a piece of cake, but we believe you can make these changes. Plus it can be fun with the help of some handy apps.

image: 2 pieces of paper saying bad and good. A hand is picking up the one that says good

It can take between 2 weeks to 2 months to form new life habits

According to research by brainingpickings.org, it can take 66 days to form a habit. If you can commit to something as easy as drinking a glass of water after breakfast this habit could form in as little as 21 days. If we can make these small changes over a period of time it's more likely that we'll be able to stick with these traits well, forever. Imagine how much more we could achieve!

We set our experts on the case to track down the right apps that may well help you make these positive changes and keep you motivated.

  1. HabitBull: (Free – iOS and Android) is described as ‘perfect for people who have flexible habit-building goals’such as walking to work or university three times a week instead of everyday. The app doesn't limit you to one daily reminder and you can customise alerts for certain days and times of the week. The app allows you to track your habits with a number so if, for example, the desired habit is to take a break and think for 15 minutes every day, you can just enter "10 minutes" when that is completed and you’ll still feel like you're working towards your goals. You really can visualise your habits in a variety of ways, track streaks, look at a calendar, and even discuss habits with other users. You may need some patience to learn the interface quirks but, HabitBull is a great app with a lot of data available for you. 
  2. LifeTracker: (Android and web app) Achieving goals can be simple, it’s down to knowing when to do the right things at the right time. LifeTracker is built to know when to remind you about them. Get reminders about your most important activities when the time and place is right. Achieve more, remember important purchases, stay foucsed on your goals and feel a sense of achievement everyday. 
  3. Google Goals: (web app) Trying google goals for a few weeks can lead to some positive small changes that can really benefit all of us. Some people have reported being better hydrated, being able to meditate more frequently and achieving better sleep. But how does it work?
  • Open the Google Calendar app
  • In the bottom right, tap Create
  • Tap Goal
  • Choose a category, for instance Family & friends or Exercise 
  • Follow the directions on your screen to set up your goal such as ‘take a break’
  • Tap Done
  • Sessions will be automatically added to your calendar, starting with the first four weeks

 

AbilityNet is a UK charity that helps provide information on technology and disability, if you’d like to know how technology may benefit you, you can call us on 0800 269 545 or email enquiries@abilitynet.org.uk

 

Can Alexa improve your health?

AbilityNet Accessibility consultant Adi Latif has contributed to a UK government video demonstrating the value of digital tech for people with specific needs. The video sets out specific goals for the NHS to invest in tech such as Amazon Echo (Alexa) and VoiceOver, showing how accessible technology can deliver health benefits and provide greater independence for people with disabilities.

AbilityNet's Adi Latif spoke at the BMA Conference in June 2018 about the role of tech in helping disabled people with their health care

Adi is an Accessibility & Usability Consultant at AbilityNet. He has a visual impairment and he uses a wide range of tech including VoiceOver on iPhone, Alexa, laptop with screenreader, Be My Eyes app, Seeing AI app, iWatch and a Braille display. 

Adi spoke at the British Medical Association's Annual Conference in June 2018 - sharing his insights about how medical healthcare could be improved in terms of accessibility. He has now worked with officials from the Department of Health to discuss the potential benefits of accessible tech in meeting people's health needs.

He says that accessible health-related apps and websites would give him control over this vital aspect in life: 

‘I can book train tickets. Send and receive emails from my phone or manage my finances through my banking apps, but I can’t manage my medical healthcare. This is a great opportunity for the Government to take a lead in ensuring that NHS services meet the highest standards of accessibility for all patients.'

He sees lots of opportunities for using Alexa to communicate with the NHS and suggested some ideas for the future: 

  • Asking Alexa for basic medical advice  - for example 'Alexa, I’ve cut my finger, what should I do?’
  • Asking Alexa to tell him test results or when his next hospital appointment is as at the moment, so he wouldn’t need to rely on paper.
  • Using a video camera (for example on Amazon Show) to connect with an NHS GP to avoid travelling to the surgery.
  • The camera would also allow him to show the NHS GP any physical symptoms which he may not be able to see for himself.

Adi believes that voice interfaces such as Alexa are potentially easier for people, especially for older people, as they may find smart phones or computers hard to operate.  Using your is almost like having a conversation, and so can be more natural.

The video showing Adi’s experience was posted on the Department of Health & Social Care Twitter page after an introductory speech by Matt Hancock his new role as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Matt Hancock is tech-savvy and wants the NHS to use tech to become more productive and accessible for people with disabilities. 

Useful information

Eight things I learned at the 2018 AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards Ceremony

Profile photo of Marta ValleI was present at the 8th annual AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards Ceremony, which took place just 10 days after I joined AbilityNet as an Accessibility and Usability Consultant - so a great opportunity to meet some of my colleagues from different locations and attend one of our major events!

The event was very successful and it was a pleasure to hear about the people and projects that are using digital technology to improve the lives of others and make the world a better place. In this post I've shared eight things I learned at the 2018 AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards Ceremony:

1. Technology is changing lives

Liz Williams from BT mentioned this idea at the beginning of the ceremony. Reading the stories of the 35 amazing finalists on the Tech4Good Awards website convinced me that this is an amazing truth: technology is making life easier, safer and better for all of us. Finalists like Be My Eyes or TapSOS deserved a prize, and so I was pleased when they won, but as Liz said "...all our finalists are winners".

2. Young talent is mind-blowing

I was surprised to see young people in the reception area before the Awards Ceremony started. Before the event I had read about the finalists in the BT Young Pioneer Award category, but I hadn’t realised the finalists were THAT young. When the Awards Ceremony started I realised that these young people have extraordinary minds. I think it’s fair to say that we were all moved by Lewis Hine's story - the teenager that founded Friend Finder to bring together students that miss school due to long-term health conditions or disability. The team that won the 2018 BT Young Pioneer Award, Water Watcher, impressed us all from the stage when speaking about their project to reduce water wastage worldwide.

Kate Russell, Mark Walker and the 2018 BT Young Pioneer Award winners - Water Watcher

3. It’s not easy to be a judge

No thank you, I don’t want to be a part of the judging for next year. How can you choose the best project from each category, when all the finalists are so good? The Digital Volunteer of the Year Award and the Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award are just two examples of extremely challenging categories to choose a stand-out winner from.

4. You can vote for your favourite by waving a glowstick

When I first saw them, I thought they were candies. ‘How unusual...’ I thought. But no, they were glowsticks and we used them to choose who we wanted to receive the Winner of Winners Award. We all enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the voting and there was much laughter.

5. You can win a trophy and give it away

Related to my previous point, Christian Erfurt from Be My Eyes won the Winner of Winners Award and surprised us all with an admirable gesture: he gave the trophy to Lewis Hine ‘for his important work with Friend Finder.’

6. ‘Rings don’t fall off to the floor’ at AbilityNet

I’m not sure if there’s an equivalent expression to this crazy Spanish idiom. If your rings don’t fall to the floor it means that you’re happy to do any task that might be considered minor, whatever your seniority. I didn’t see a single ring on the floor during all the event. Everybody was working with Mark Walker, the event organiser and also the Head of Marketing and Communications at AbilityNet, to make sure the event ran as smoothly as possible. Everyone pitched in, no matter the seniority, no matter the task. I’m pleased to work in such a collaborative environment.

The team representing AbilityNet at the 2018 Tech4Good Awards

7. Networking is better around a chocolate fountain

Gary Moore, the CEO of AbilityNet, mentioned the chocolate fountain whilst on stage, and in my opinion it was truly the star of the delicious catering that was on offer after the event. There’s no better way to start a conversation than by sharing your thoughts about the perfect fruit combination to dip into chocolate.

8. It’s such an amazing time!

Kate Russell, who hosted the awards alongside Mark Walker, said it's not often we hear a genuine good-news story about technology. On the day of the Awards Ceremony we heard not one, but thirty-five good-news stories about technology. Big names like Facebook and Microsoft are using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve accessibility for all users. Robotics is going to change the world, like the amazing Small Robot Company in the agri-tech industry. Digital skills are reaching people that had little access to technology before. The future is promising, and we’ll get another opportunity to reflect on this again as we follow our 10 winners post-win and look forward to the next AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards in 2019. Are you ready?

The 2018 AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards winners alongside presenters and judges

Find out more:

For more information about the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards and this year's winners read the official AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards winners announcement on our website.

You can read more about our 2018 winners and finalists in a feature on the Guardian website.

For other details about the Awards visit the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards website.

If you're feeling inspired to use your digital skills to transform the lives of other people then check out our current vacancies and volunteer opportunities.

Winners Announced for AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2018

The power of technology to transform the lives disabled people was as a key theme as the winners of the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2018 were announced at the eighth annual awards ceremony in BT Centre, London.

This year’s winners included Be My Eyes, an accessibility app that uses a smartphone to connect blind people with sighted volunteers, TapSOS an app originally designed for the Deaf community that provides a non-verbal way of contacting the Emergency Services and WaytoB a navigation aid for people with learning disabilities.

the winners of the tech4good awrads 2018 were announced at a glittering ceremony at BT Centre in July 2018

The Tech4Good Awards are organised by AbilityNet and sponsored by BT and supported by charities and businesses including Lloyds Banking Group, Microsoft and Tech Trust. The judging panel includes experts from the BBC, tech industry, charity and government. These are the only awards to highlight the amazing people from charities, business and volunteers across who use digital technology to make the world a better place. Entry is free and open to any business, charity, individual or public body in the UK. 

The awards ceremony took place on 17 July at BT Centre, London, where more than 200 people came together to discover who won this year's Awards:

  • AbilityNet Accessibility Award: Be My Eyes
  • BT Connected Society Award: Small Robot Company
  • BT Young Pioneer Award: Water Watcher
  • Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award: Unlocking Talent Through Technology
  • Community Impact Award: Mind of My Own (MOMO)
  • Digital Health Award: TapSOS
  • Digital Skills Award: Generation Code
  • Tech Volunteer of the Year Award: Anna Holland Smith
  • Tech4Good People’s Award: WaytoB
  • Winner of Winners Award: Be My Eyes

The Awards are organised by Mark Walker at AbilityNet, who is pictured below with BBC Click presenter Kate Russell, who hosts the event, Ian Caveney of BT and Ben Scott Robinson of the Small Robot Company, winners of the BT Connected Society Award 2018.

Small Robot Company won the BT Connected Society Award at AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2018

Mark said everyone was still buzzing after another amazing event:

“We've had another fantastic year, with so many inspiring stories from people who are using tech to make the world a better place. We had over 200 high-quality entries and our 35 finalists included big tech names such as Microsoft and Facebook, along with small charities, startups and lots of volunteers. 

"Our judging panel includes tech, charity and business experts from a huge range of organisations, including the BBC, BT, Comic Relief and Government. The standard was much higher than usual so they had a really tough time choosing the winners. 

“The Award Ceremony is such an uplifting event - it's wonderful to meet so many amazing people who are using their passion for technology to change the lives of other people. It's such a privilege to celebrate their success and help them share their stories to inspire others. Everyone at AbilityNet is so proud of the way the Tech4Good Awards has grown over the past eight years - and so grateful for the support we get from BT and all the other partners and supporters."

More details