Category Archives: presentations

BBC Accessibility Champions

In August Vicky Johnson and Marcus Friday from our Team were invited to present to the BBC accessibility champions event at BBC Media City in Salford.

BBC Accessibility Champions

BBC Media City, Salford

BBC Media City, Salford

This day was organised to bring together many BBC accessibility champions. The group included people who design BBC websites and apps to ensure accessibility. The audience consisted of programmers, user experience designers, researchers and testers, business analysts, assistive technology users and accessibility specialists.

The BBC now has approximately 85 accessibility champions which span across many BBC departments, eg TV, radio, sport and children’s. Presentations were given to explain the ways in which the champions ensure that accessibility is considered early in the design process, and that testing is carried out as a website, app or game is developed.

‘Physical’ ICT Accessibility

Vicky and Marcus, from the Barnsley AT team, were invited to speak at the event in order to provide the audience with an insight into how users with severe physical impairments access technology. The focus was on their clients who predominantly have upper limb physical impairments and sometimes have associated visual and cognitive difficulties. An overview of the Barnsley AT Team was provided, along with some powerful case studies of clients using their AT systems to enable computer access, control of the environment, and access to communication.

Three breakout sessions took place in the afternoon and we listened to the Head of Accessibility and Accessibility Specialists provide an insight into the developments in the accessibility of BBC output in recent years. Part of the discussion focused on how to ensure that breadth of BBC output is accessible to those with visual, cognitive or physical difficulties.

Looking to the Future

The day ended with a fun session spent in the Blue Room. The BBC have dream jobs where Technologists are employed whose role is to keep aware of new mainstream developments which may have an application or scope for development of interest to them.

We tried the Amazon voice recognition system called Echo which uses the protocol IFTTT (if this then that) which provides a flexible system, where for example the system recognises your request and you program it to perform any number of actions e.g. control your environment, interact with an app in order to order a taxi or food or action another command programmed in other IFTTT enabled apps. We also had time to try Google Glass and a relatively cheap head worn display called Glasshouse.

It was a privilege to meet some of the people behind the iPlayer TV and radio apps, including the Good Food site. Overall, it was an informative and enjoyable day which has opened up the opportunity for Barnsley AT Team to work further with the BBC.

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Accessibility in Information Technology Lecture

I recently gave a lecture at Sheffield Hallam University about the importance of building accessibility options into information technology. Dr. Peter O’Neill had invited me to speak – he is a senior lecturer at Hallam, and runs courses on mobile applications. These students could be designing the apps we use in a few years time, so it was great to have the opportunity to explain why it is important to consider accessibility during the software design process.

Following the lecture we received the following very kind feedback – thank you!!

“What struck me the most watching Vicky’s presentation is how recent evolutions in the computing user experience are already being considered for the potential uses in assistive technology. Most notably with the leaps being made in home automation and advancements in gesture based input. Similarly, I also absolutely fascinated by the input methods we already have in use – I especially had no idea that eye tracking software was so capable.

This is especially useful as we have been talking about how best to grant users access to the assistive mode in our game. The presentation has encouraged me to think creatively and far outside of the box for this problem. I was previously stumped, but after seeing other solutions we have in use I feel inspired.”

“I thought the presentation as a whole was very useful and provided lots of valuable insight into the different accessibility requirements. It was also very useful to see examples of devices which have been adapted for assistive technology, showing how different methods can be interpreted using physical implementation rather than just software based.

It was also very interesting to see how the devices are used in a real world situation, as demonstrated through the videos shown in the presentation. This gave a good idea for how I could interpret assistive technology into the mobile app we are currently developing in the module. One particularly useful discussion was the need for high contrast images (yellow text on black background, for example) as this will be one of the essential things to consider for our app.

To summarise, I think the presentation as a whole is key to understanding the needs and uses for assistive technology in application development as well as many other areas. I hope Vicky can return in future years so other students can be enlightened on the topic and gain further understanding.”

Accessible app developers of the future?

Yesterday I gave a presentation at Sheffield Hallam University following an invitation from Dr Peter O’Neill, Senior Lecturer and leader on modules including mobile applications and programming for computing. The students were from the BSc Mobile Application Development course and an MSc Group Project.

Considering that the audience could be web and app developers of the future, this was an opportunity to remind of the need to design for accessibility. To set the context I explained the role of our service in assessing for and providing electronic assistive technology such as AAC, EC and computer access and described how some of our clients access this technology. An illustration was given of well established methods such as switch access, alternative keyboards, mice, eye gaze, voice recognition, screen reading software and use of inbuilt accessibility features in Windows, iOS and Android.

This lead to highlighting more recent technology developments which have the potential to be used as Assistive Technology  – if developed in the right way:

Leap Motion –  non contact gesture input from hand and finger movement.

Google Glass – wearable computer and optical head mounted display.

Google 3D Sensors – Project Tango – phone with motion tracking and depth sensing.

Hopefully we enthused the students with the potential of using these novel technologies for Assistive Technology and in thinking accessibility in everything they did.

There are lots of exciting potential student projects in the area of Assistive Technology and Accessibility. We will continue to develop collaborations between the Barnsley AT Team and University groups such as Sheffield Hallam – hopefully, at some point, building on the Project Possibility model in the UK.

New training date added!

There was a lot of interest in our ‘Introduction to Electronic Assistive Technologies’ course that we ran last week, so we have decided to run the course again on Thursday 12th September 2013.

For more information about what is covered in this course and the other courses in the series, please see our website or download the flyer from our website.  Courses are avaliable to professionals working in our service delivery areas (Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster). We may accept requests from other parts of Yorkshire and Humber subject to availability and a nominal charge.

If you would like to book a place, either phone our department or email us at: barnsley.at@nhs.net

Looking forward to seeing you there.

IPEM Integrated Access for Assistive Technology – York 25th Jan 2013

IPEM – Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine hosted a study day on Integrated Access for Assistive Technology. Integrated Electronic Assistive Technology (eAT) can be a combination that enables access to an environmental control system, communication aid, a computer and/or powered mobility.

Our team has many years of experience in providing integrated eAT. At the meeting I represented the Barnsley AT Team, initially providing an overview of some of the commercially available integration options we have employed over the previous 10 years. Then the focus shifted to our custom made microprocessor based Integrators designed and constructed by our Electronics Engineer, Graham. A typical application for our custom integrator is for an individual who can operate a single switch but needs to be able to access more than one device or function. One example being an integrator that allows the user to choose if the switch operates their environmental control or turn a page of their ebook forward or backward.

See the draft programme – Integrated Access for AT Programme

and my presentation – The Challenges of Integrating Complex Electronic Assistive Technology

In brief, a worthwhile study day by seeing what other departments are up to and encouraging that there was interest in our work, especially the custom made integrator.