Accessibility in Computer Science

As a team we see the need for good accessibility for information technology – on web pages, app decvelopment, within operating systems and in fact in any computer system.  To help train the next generation of developers on the importance of accessibility, Vicky from our team gave a seminar to students on the Sheffield Hallam computing degree course.  Here is some of the feedback:

” Accessibility and equal opportunities for all, when working with mobile apps is easily overlooked, especially when targeting the masses. The talk opened my eyes to how taking the extra time to implement simple, or in some cases more complicated UI systems can fundamentally change someones way off life. With so many options available in the form of technology, software created by major corporations, and smaller 3rd party API’s, there is no longer any excuse to not take the extra time as a developer to make your app available for all, and in many cases to those who could benefit the most. The talk offered a comprehensive overview and hands on with current technology used to help disabilities, as well as some use cases, which let me see how the simplest technology can make a huge difference in someones life.

Since the talk, I have continued development on my mobile app, now incorporating voice navigation through our UI. The app focuses on child safety, and I hope with the added accessibility options, it could offer some independence for more vulnerable children with disabilities. Without the insight from my lecturers, or guest speakers from the NHS, I would never have considered adding features to help with disabilities.

I would like to thank the NHS for taking the time to come and talk to us, and offer their professional insight.”

“The talk given by the NHS was fantastic. As we were just venturing into our project to develop an application for assistive technology; we were quite un-aware of what was currently out there. Both in terms of current technology and aid provided by the NHS. It was good to as it gave us some interesting ideas for our own projects. But the biggest benefit of the talk was the inspiration it gave us. We knew that is was not just another university projects, in fact what we would be creating could potentially change someone’s life. I think it was a great talk and definitely should be run next year.”

“I would like to thank the Barnsley Hospital and Vicky for taking the time to come and talk to us, the experience was invaluable. Prior to starting this project at University, I had no previous knowledge of assistive technology. As part of this project, we needed to develop an application for assistive technology, more specifically a communication aid. The talk by Vicky was excellent, it provided me with detailed knowledge on the level of technology both past and present as well as what to expect in the future. Providing us with some excellent ideas for our projects. It raised my awareness of the technologies that people with disabilities depend on. Vicky spoke about several people, how they use assistive technology and the importance of it needing to be tailored to their specific needs. This really opened my eyes on how some of the technology we take for granted can make such an incredible impact to someone’s quality of life. I hope that the application we produce can improve the independence of people with disabilities.”

“The NHS talk has given me a better understanding of assistive technology. I was made aware of the various input methods available for environmental control systems i.e. blowing. I also got a chance to hold and interact with various AAC devices which which was a nice touch. To conclude, I found the talk to be very beneficial to my module research and to anyone interested in the assistive technology.”

This course is taught by Dr Peter O’Neil as part of the Sheffield Halam’s computing course.

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