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Guest Blog - Life online with Dyspraxia and finding your dream job

22 Oct 2019 | news

Hello, my name is Daniel Cobb and I found out I had Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia at the age of 43. Dyspraxia is a common neurodevelopmental condition that affects fine or gross motor coordination in children and adults. We are living in a fast-moving digital world where a lot of our lives are lived out online. However, a common difficulty experienced by dyspraxics is the reading and processing of information on a screen whether that be a tablet, phone, laptop, or computer. Allow me to share with you my story, my struggles, and my journey to support organisations with diversity and inclusion throughout recruitment process into everyday working life. My story If you look back at my life, on paper I have been very successful. At school, I did well in my GCSEs and A-Levels, I went to University and obtained a BA Hons Degree and a MSc. I also have had a successful career working in IT sales for a market-leading IT company, got married and have had two lovely children. However, what it does not highlight are the significant challenges I have faced throughout my life. As a child I was always falling over and covered in bruises and cuts, I constantly bumped into things, learning practical skills such as doing up buttons, tying shoelaces, learning to ride a bike, playing ball games were all very challenging for me. I also found social interaction difficult and struggled with new situations or learning a new task. As, an adult I have experienced challenges with time management, learning new work tasks and processes and am easily overwhelmed when I have lots of things to complete. I also frequently misplace things such as keys, wallets, headphones which as you can imagine is very frustrating. I am also very disorganised, and I always have the messiest desk in the office. Also, it can take me longer to complete things and requires additional effort to ensure I perform at a level that I believe is comparable to my colleagues. Likewise, I have always had the feeling of being different, whether that was in the way I experienced things differently, or through thinking differently. There were also the unwanted travel companions that have followed me throughout my life – namely low self – esteem, anxiety, and depression. Low self-esteem and anxiety have always been constant companions and when things have gotten too difficult to manage it was joined by depression. Over the years I have had numerous episodes, interestingly, not once did the medical profession want to investigate why I kept experiencing severe bouts of anxiety and depression. Matters came to a head back in 2017 when following another significant episode, I decided to investigate why this kept happening. In the past, it had been suggested the challenges I had experienced throughout my life could be explained by something called dyspraxia. However, as I felt at the time to be doing ok I did not want to explore it further. I though now started to look into what dyspraxia was. The internet was invaluable as I discovered there was, in fact, reams and reams of information about dyspraxia including the symptoms and characteristics of someone who has dyspraxia and the potential causes of it. The more I read about it, the more it sounded like dyspraxia could be the explaining factor behind all the difficulties I had experienced during childhood and into adulthood. During my research, I came across The Adult Developmental Coordination Disorder / Dyspraxia Checklist which had been created by Amanda Kirkby and her team at The Dyscovery Centre, University of Wales. I completed the checklist and it was as if it was describing word for word the exact difficulties and challenges, I had experienced all my life – from childhood into adulthood. The outcome of completing the checklist was that it indicated it was more than likely I had Developmental Coordination Disorder / Dyspraxia. At this point, I was so determined to see this to the end, and I decided I needed to get a full diagnosis. I realised very quickly the only way to get a diagnosis was to go private, as I was an adult the NHS would not be able to help. As I was fortunate to have the financial means to pay for a private diagnosis, I was able to quickly self-refer myself to Dyspraxia UK. The outcome of the diagnostic assessment was that the results were consistent with someone who has dyspraxia. Hearing this and seeing it down on paper was a lightbulb moment for me. I also felt a sense of euphoria and some ways of excitement. It instantly provided me with answers as to why I had struggled all my life and why I had always felt I was different from my peers. It also explained why anxiety and depression had been constant companions throughout my life. It was quickly replaced by frustration and in some ways, grief as well. I was frustrated about why it had taken me until I was 43 years old before I was diagnosed with DCD / Dyspraxia and I was grieving for what my life could have been like instead. Very quickly I realised that things were not going to change. It was not as if I could take medication to help and cure the dyspraxia. It was clear to me that DCD /Dyspraxia was part of my makeup and was what made me as a person. I also learned to perform and fulfil my potential especially when in work, specific adjustments needed to be implemented. These range from using assistive technology through to where I am sat in an open planned office and being able to use headphones to reduce distractions. What is DCD / Dyspraxia? Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia is a neurodevelopmental condition. It affects fine or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It is a lifelong condition and is formally recognised by international organisations such as the World Health Organisation. It is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke and occurs across all intellectual abilities. Individuals will vary in terms of how difficulties present themselves. They can also change over time, depending on environmental and life experiences. What causes DCD / Dyspraxia? The causes are not clear. One thought is that it is caused by disruption to the way in which messages from the brain are transmitted to the body. This therefore results in problems with coordination and balance and difficulties with gross and fine motor skills. It affects a persons’ ability to learn sequence of movements and why they experience coordination difficulties. Consequently, an individual’s coordination difficulties may affect participation and functioning of everyday life skills in education, work and employment. Children may present difficulties with self – care activities such as doing up buttons, tying shoe laces, writing, also learning to ride a bike and participating in team sports such as football may be difficult. As an adult these experiences continue when learning skills at home, in education and in work s (i.e. learning to drive, doing DIY and learning new work tasks and processes. There can also be co-occurring difficulties which can have a serious impact on daily life and lead to social and emotional difficulties. Individuals can have problems with time management, planning and personal organisation, dealing with change and uncertainty, processing and retaining information. They can experience sensory processing issues and therefore be very sensitive to noise, touch and smell and can become overwhelmed very quickly. There is also significant comorbidity with other occurring conditions. Individuals with dyspraxia have higher rates of self-esteem and are more likely to suffer with anxiety and depression. Dyspraxia has a lot of overlap with other neurodevelopmental conditions (e.g. Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourette’s), and people with dyspraxia may have more than one of these. Clearly there a lot of negatives associated with dyspraxia. However, it is worth noting there are a lot of strengths and positives to also consider. Dyspraxic people tend to be good at bold ‘big picture’ thinking, pattern-spotting and inferential reasoning. Due to the challenges they experience they are often resourceful, persistent, and determined problem-solvers. Likewise, with the right support in place they are very reliable and hard working. Finally, other strengths described by dyspraxic individuals are being patient, caring and empathic. Challenges faced online and in recruitment We live in a world where everything we do now is online, from booking holidays, managing our finances, reading the daily news, and purchasing goods. However, evidence has shown that disabled people including dyspraxics face barriers when visiting inaccessible websites. As a result, it means they are unable to understand and engage with companies’ products and services. Another area where there are significant challenges for dsypraxics is in recruitment and searching for the right job. Everyone will probably agree looking for the right job, especially after redundancy is stressful and very exhausting. Again, a lot of what you need to do whilst searching for your next job is online, from using online job boards, using LinkedIn, registering your details with a recruitment agency, or completing online job applications. A common difficulty for dyspraxics is reading and processing information on a screen. The amount of information presented can easily overwhelm them and because of sensory processing issues they may also experience high levels of visual stress. These challenges can be made worse by digital and online communications being inaccessible. This leads to barriers which can stop someone with dyspraxia and other neurodiverse conditions from flourishing during the recruitment process. This is significant as it means searching for a job can be even more difficult for someone who has dyspraxia. Assistive toolbar support Due to the challenges I experience when using websites, the ability to customise a website to a way that works for me is very important. The innovative Recite Me Cloud Assistive Toolbar allows me to do this very easily. When integrated into a website it allows you to customise the website in the way in which you need it to work for you. For example, as a dyspraxic user, to ensure the digital content is accessible I can change the font type, size and spacing. I can also change the background colour to aid viewing and reading. It is also possible to use a ruler to allow me to read line by line and use the reading mask to eliminate distraction. Finally, I can also enable the website to read text aloud. These features mean barriers are removed and ensures the website is accessible and usable for everyone. Companies need to take inclusion seriously It is important for everyone to have the opportunity to access online content and it is essential to support people who are dyspraxic. Providing an inclusive experience ensures a users’ journey and experience of a website is enhanced. It means dyspraxic users are not disadvantaged and are able to understand and engage with a businesses’ services and products. The benefits to a business are significant. Through providing assistive technology that website users can use means businesses are able to cater for a wider audience. It is likely to also increase visitor engagement and satisfaction leading to a greater online presence and more business being converted. There are over 11 million people in the UK disabled, 15% of the population are neurodiverse, with 3-4% of adults dyspraxic. Therefore, the use of assistive tools is so important. The integration of assistive tools such as Recite Me’s Assistive Technology Toolbar across a recruiters’ website removes the substantial barriers disabled people experience during the recruitment process. It is a game changer as the recruitment process instantly becomes more inclusive, providing greater opportunities for dyspraxic individuals to find their dream job. It also means organisations do not miss out on the skills and strengths dyspraxic employees can bring to an organisation. More importantly it also helps to reduce the disability employment gap as it allows organisations to tap into a talent pool that is currently untapped. To conclude it makes business sense and it is the right thing to do.

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Focussing on the Facts for ADHD Awareness Month

18 Oct 2019 | news

ADHD Awareness Month aims to educate the public about ADHD by sharing reliable information about the condition to clarify the facts and bust myths. It also encourages people affected by ADHD to seek assessment, get appropriate treatment, and share resources. Recite Me is an assistive technology company that helps people with disabilities and health conditions like ADHD to access information and services online. So we are pleased to share information about the condition as part of ADHD Awareness Month 2019. What is ADHD? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological condition that has behavioural symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. There are three different types of ADHD: Predominantly Inattentive Presentation; Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation; and Combined Presentation. ADHD affects 5% of children and 2.5% of adults in the UK according to ADHD Action, and most people with the condition are diagnosed between the ages of 6 to 12 years old. Although the symptoms of ADHD normally lessen as people get older many adults continue to experience problems. And whilst nearly 75,000 children aged between six and 17 received a prescription for ADHD drugs in England in 2017/18, some research suggests that children in England, especially girls, are being under-treated for the condition. Myths and Facts about ADHD MYTH: ADHD is caused by bad parenting FACT: Parents do not cause ADHD. The disorder comes from the accumulation of many environmental and genetic risk factors. MYTH: ADHD is just an excuse for being lazy FACT: ADHD is a problem with the chemical dynamics of the brain and it’s not under voluntary control. MYTH: Children with ADHD just need more discipline FACT: Discipline and relationship problems are the consequences of ADHD behaviour problems in the children, not the cause. How technology can help people with ADHD access the Web People who have ADHD can often also have a learning difficulty like dyslexia and ADHD is also known to affect people’s ability to read in itself. This can make it difficult for people with ADHD to access information and services online, but accessibility software like Recite Me’s cloud-based assistive technology toolbar can help them enormously. It can be installed on any website to offer a range of accessibility and language options to make reading information online easier, such as a ruler and screen mask which can be used in combination to focus on a small area of text. Recite Me can also change a web page to plain text view or let the user choose the exact text and background colour combination. These features help users to avoid distracting bright colours, images and graphics whilst reading web content. There is also a dictionary built into Recite Me, which lets people quickly check the definitions of words they don’t understand. Recite Me can even read web content aloud to users (aka text to speech) so they can listen to the content and avoid reading it altogether if it suits them. Ultimately, Recite Me is part of a range of support measures people with ADHD can use to take an active part in life. For more information about the treatment and support available for people with ADHD visit the NHS website.

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Interview with Keeley Baptista, Head of Partnerships at Kick It Out

17 Oct 2019 | news

Recite Me CEO, Ross Linnett and Keeley Baptista, Head of Partnerships at Kick It Out discusses the revolution of the charity organisation from tackling racism in football to the full scope of diversity and inclusion. They also discuss the importance of online inclusion and accessibility. With fans coming together online from all over the world to share their passion for football, Keeley points out how accessibility and assistive technology should be a priority for all football clubs on their websites

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The changing world needs dyslexia skills in the workplace

15 Oct 2019 | news

As our world continues to change and evolve where technology supports everyone with everyday tasks, the need for creative, problem solving and leadership skills are more important than ever. These unique set of skills has shaped the world we live in today with famous innovators such as Sir Richard Brandson, Agatha Christie and Albert Einstein. All of who are dyslexic. In the future, enhanced tasks and new roles will be created that match closely to the strengths of dyslexic thinking. At least 1 in 10 people in the UK and nearly 1 in 5 in the US are influenced by dyslexia. People with dyslexia have a genetic difference in their ability to learn and process information. As a result, people will excel in creative, problem-solving and communication tasks but will experience challenges with spelling, reading and memorising fact. Only 3% of the public believe dyslexia is a positive trait according to YouGov research and 73% of dyslexic people hide their dyslexia from employers. Made by Dyslexia has created a movement to unite, inspire and shape the future to understand and support people with dyslexia. 2019 Made By Dyslexia Global Summit marks the start of the revolution and the pledge to address the support needed for people with dyslexia. Calling upon all companies and countries to join together to recognise, understand and support dyslexia. As partners and supporters of Made By Dyslexia, Recite Me Managing Director, Ross Linnett and Marketing Director, Michael Halpin joined over 200 people and thousands more worldwide via live stream at their annual Global Summit in London. The evening created a platform to recognise the power of dyslexia through listening to three inspiring panels. The imaginers, the game changers, and the change-makers. All of which are geared towards improving the perception and celebrating neurodiversity by connecting the dots. The overall main focus of the evening was to address how to improve the screening of dyslexia from an early age and then how to teach children with dyslexia in the right way to excel on their strengths. Children with dyslexia do not fit into the normal school model of written and reading exams. Working together, the education system needs to change their approach so that every child can develop their key skills in the right way so they can achieve their end goal of starting their dream career. In a world of technologically-enabled change, how we work is changing. Normal working tasks of writing and reading are being supported via everyday technology. Technology is, therefore, creating a need for new skill sets which people with dyslexia excel with. These days, flexible, multi-disciplined and collaborative job skills will become paramount. It is clear that organisations need to better understand dyslexia and the benefits they bring to a business. Many dyslexics shie with their creative skills, analytical thinking and big-picture thinking as some of their strengths, skills which are highly sought after in some of the world’s biggest industries. If we’re all going to be successful together going forward, it’s imperative to better understand which strengths everyone is bringing to the modern world of work.

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Supporting people online with a vision impairment

14 Oct 2019 | news

Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment or blindness. This includes people who are registered blind and partially sighted, plus all the other people whose sight problems have a substantial impact on their daily activities. The five leading causes of sight loss are refractive error, age-related macular degeneration, cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. And research shows that having sight loss can often lead to people facing barriers that prevent them from carrying out their daily activities. People with sight loss face barriers online For example, back in 2016, the Click-Away Pound Survey found more than six million people with disabilities (including sight loss) in the UK had difficulty using online shops and services. For a variety of reasons, people may not be able to use a mouse, or read the words, or find their way around a busy screen. 71% of those people simply left a site that they found hard to use - 4.2 million lost customers For 81% of this group, ease of use was more important than price £11.75 billion was spent by consumers in 2016 at sites that were easier to use This evidence shows that people with sight loss can find it difficult to do things many other people do online unhindered. Whether that’s buying groceries, ordering a pizza, booking cinema tickets, looking at a train time table or buying a parking permit. With the results of the latest Click-Away Pound Survey due in December 2019, it will be interesting to see what has changed. Inclusive design and assistive tech All organisations can make their websites accessible for people with sight loss by following the principles of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1). Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible. This includes ensuring all web pages are easily navigable for people who use screen reader devices, such as having correctly labelled forms and images (aka alt tags/alt text). You can also add assistive technology like Recite Me’s assistive toolbar to a website to offer an enhanced layer of accessibility. People with sight loss can use Recite Me to opt have text read aloud to them (aka text to speech) in over 40 different languages including English. They can also use it to increase the font size and the space between lines of text, select a plain text only view, zoom (aka magnify) and use a screen mask plus a ruler to help focus on a specific area of a web page. Recite Me also lets users choose the font colour and background colour to help make text as easy as possible to read. Martin Lea, Recite Me Sales Executive, has a visual impairment. He said: “I became visually impaired in my mid-forties having acquired a condition that permanently damaged the macular in my right. The range of styling features on the Recite Me assistive toolbar massively support my content reading. Mostly the font size increase button and the colour, contrast, and font options. “All websites have their own styles but there seems to be a trend of using dark grey text on a light grey background which can be frustrating. Recite allows me to apply 'MY' preferred colours and font, to facilitate reading content. Reading paragraphs with essentially just my left eye means it's easy to lose my place in a long paragraph. The ruler keeps me in the right place on-page.” Ensuring websites are accessible is also a legal requirement and we hope that WSD 2019 encourages more organisations to make sure that people with sight loss and blindness can access their websites to do what they need to do. 100’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for people with conditions like sight loss…Find out more or book your free trial now.

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Breaking down the barriers for disabled people in football

09 Oct 2019 | news

Fans of all ages and regardless of their disability or differences should be able to come together online as a community to share their passion for football. Football is a global game and the central hub to bring everyone together is a club’s website. These websites provide visitors with everything they need to know about a club; latest news, match reports, fixtures and the ability to purchase tickets and merchandise like replica kits via the online stores. Unfortunately, it’s an issue that many disabled football supporters have to deal with, inaccessible websites. To allow everyone to engage with their favourite clubs and players, football club websites need to be inclusive by providing accessibility support. Globally there are an estimated 285 million people with a visual impairment of some kind and around 10-15% of the world’s population has dyslexia. In the UK alone, there are 1.5 million people with a learning disability and 4.2 million people who have English as a second language. This makes assistive technology all the more important to support fans online to access content in a way that works best for them. Kick It Out is English football’s equality and inclusion organisation and disability inclusion is central to their work. To support people online Kick It Out offers Recite Me. Recite Me is award-winning software that allows Kick It Out’s users to customise the website in a way that works best for them This is particularly important for disabled people or people who speak English as a second language to access vital equality information and resources. Keeley Baptista, Kick It Out’s Head of Partnerships, is delighted to be using Recite Me on the organisation’s website and believes it marks another step forward for Kick It Out’s equality work. Keeley Baptista, commented, “Recite Me is a pioneering software tool that will significantly improve the accessibility of our website. “Disability inclusion is a central part of our work and we are excited to be working more closely with the team at Recite Me going forward as we aim to break down the barriers for disabled people in football. Keeley added: “We hope that football clubs and organizations see the benefit of the tool for their customers and supporters and look to address accessibility improvements on their websites too.” Ross Linnett, Recite Me founder and CEO says, “Recite Me are proud to partner up with Kick It Out to provide online assistive technology to support people with disabilities. “The partnership will help to increase diversity and inclusion online as well as on the pitch. “Allowing people to come together to share their passion for football online is a key goal for Recite Me. By providing a wide range of accessibility tools such as the screen reader and on-demand live translation, fans of all ages, regardless of their disability or differences can engage with football news and events online hassle-free. “Our partnership will also create awareness aimed at helping clubs and other sporting organisations to develop their online presence, in order to better support fans who can often face barriers accessing online content.” 100’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for website visitors. To find out more or to book your free trial please contact the team.

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Kick It Out

09 Oct 2019 | case-study

Established in 1993 a small independent charity, the ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’ campaign was created in response to widespread calls from clubs, players and fans to tackle racism in football. Kick It Out was then established as a body in 1997 as it widened out its objectives to cover all aspects of discrimination, inequality and exclusion. Working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change, Kick It Out is at the heart of the fight against discrimination for everyone who plays, watches or works in football.

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Buglife

09 Oct 2019 | case-study

Buglife is the only organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. Founded in the year 2000 Buglife actively works to save Britain’s rarest little animals, everything from bees to beetles and worms to woodlice. Their ultimate goal is to stop the extinction of invertebrate species.

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Counting the positives for Dyslexia Awareness Week

07 Oct 2019 | news

Dyslexia can be more of a help than a burden. That’s the view of Chris Hind, 33, Senior Sales Executive at Recite Me, who has dyslexia. This week (7 – 13 October) is Dyslexia Awareness Week 2019 and the theme for this year focuses around empowering people. The British Dyslexia Association, which runs Dyslexia Awareness Week, wants relevant people to share their thoughts on dyslexia. This includes discussing the strengths dyslexia brings and how it has helped the roughly one in ten people in the UK who have the condition achieve success. Un-tapped hidden brain power According to Chris, his experience of dyslexia is that it’s actually a strong point. Not a weakness. It helps him to think differently, which makes him good at finding creative solutions to problems. “For me, the plus sides of having dyslexia probably outweigh the negative effects. For example, I know that my creative thinking is heightened due to dyslexia. “That tends to be a common characteristic among people with dyslexia. So it helps my ability to methodically work through a problem. “It helps me find resolutions to problems and find ways around things that other people who have slightly more linear thinking patterns may not consider.” This hidden extra brainpower of people with dyslexia is clearly something that organisations can use to their advantage by exploring different ways of problem-solving. What’s it like to have dyslexia? Before we think more about that, it’s worth understanding more about how dyslexia affects individual people. So how does Chris experience dyslexia? “Sometimes I can see letters in a word mirrored or jumbled up, and words can also look mirrored and jumbled up to me” said Chris. “And I can struggle to follow lines of text onto the next line. So when I get to the end of a line I find it hard to find the start of the next line without having to look back at where I was.” As reading is grinding for Chris, he benefits from working here at Recite Me for an assistive technology company that understands accessibility. Because of this the Recite Me assistive toolbar is built into our internal IT systems, which Chris and the rest of our team use. And as Recite Me has a unique range of features that each user can customise to suit their specific needs, Chris can use it to read content in the way that works best for him. “I'm lucky because we've got the Recite Me assistive toolbar built into our internal IT systems, which I spend most of my working day using on my PC. It’s great to make micro-adjustments using Recite Me’s features. “I like to change the text and background colours. A grey background with black text works a lot better to me than a white background with black text.” Small changes make a massive difference Chris also uses Recite Me to make small changes to the layout of text on-screen that make an immeasurably positive difference to his reading experience. “I'll slightly increase the font size as well as the line-height. “As I mentioned earlier, getting to the end of a line of text and picking up the next line can sometimes be a bit troublesome, especially if I’m trying to consume text quite quickly. “Recite Me gives the option to increase line-height, which is the amount of space between each line of text. “Just increasing the distance between the text in this way has a profound effect on me. “And sometimes if I have really large blocks of intricate text to read I can pop my headphones and use the text-to-speech feature to listen to the content, rather than having to read it myself.” How to harness the power of dyslexia During Dyslexia Awareness Week people across the UK are exploring how to empower dyslexia in organisations, and it’s clear that a greater understanding of the positives of having dyslexia is essential. For Chris, the key lies in organisations understanding that dyslexia effects people differently and each person’s experience needs to be listened to in order to get the best out of them. “Dyslexia, like other forms of neurodiversity, is quite a wide spectrum of experience. Not everyone with dyslexia is the same. We don't experience it the same way. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach that helps everyone with dyslexia to flourish. “So I think an organisation should understand its individual staff members and what that individual staff member’s experience with dyslexia is like. “Find out what they see as the positive aspects of their dyslexia, what their key strengths are as a result of dyslexia. “And then play to that individual's strengths. Recognise that there are strengths to having dyslexia, there aren’t just negatives. “This kind of holistic approach would certainly benefit not just the organisation but the individual within that organisation as well.” 100’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for people with conditions like dyslexia. To find out more or book your free trial please contact the team.

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Morson Group

04 Oct 2019 | case-study

Morson International is one of the most respected names in recruitment, helping candidates find their perfect role and helping companies find the right people for their business since 1969. As the 3rd largest engineering recruitment company in the world (Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) report 2017) they specialise in the supply of technical engineers and support operatives in the UK and overseas. With a business model that focuses on excellence for employees, candidates, contractors, and clients, they are actively committed to improving the lives of the communities in which they work. As leaders in the inclusivity conversation, they have taken significant steps to build on their status as a ‘disability confident employer’, reducing stigmas, attracting talent from untapped pools and creating job opportunities for all.

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Recite Me sponsor Heel and Toe foundation charity ball

03 Oct 2019 | news

Members of the Recite Me team are getting ready to put on their dickie bow ties for the St James’ Square charity ball in aid of local children’s charity, Heel and Toe. The ball will be taking place at https://www.thebiscuitfactory.com/ on Thursday 10 October 2019 with the North East’s very own Lee Ridley as the headline act for the evening. Comedian Lee, also known as the Lost Voice Guy, won Britain’s Got Talent, along with the nation’s hearts, in 2018. Heel and Toe is a North East charity that supports children with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities. The charity receives no government funding and relies solely on donations and fundraising to provide free conductive education therapy and other subsidised therapies to over 160 children from all over the North East area. Hosts of the event, St James’ Square is a cost effective, high quality law firm providing advice for businesses and individuals across the North East. As their charity of the year, the firm aims to raise an amazing £40,000 for the Heel and Toe foundation. As well as the up and coming black-tie fundraiser they have taken part in team and client go karting and have planned a family Christmas cinema event. The firm will also contribute to help get to the overall target of £40,000. Managing Partner of St James’ Square, Paul Monaghan said: “We’re absolutely delighted to announce that not only are we hosting the firm’s first ever charity ball but that the talented Lost Voice Guy will be headlining the event. I was fortunate enough to see Lee perform his comedy a few years ago so I’m looking forward to seeing him again at our ball.” Lee said: “I’m delighted to be performing back in Newcastle later this year for the St James’ Square Charity Ball. I’ve seen some of the amazing work Heel and Toe do to help children with disabilities like mine so I’m pleased to be involved in what will be a very successful evening.” Recite Me, CEO and founder Ross Linnet commented, “We are delighted to sponsor this glamorous ball for the amazing charity Heel and Toe. The work they do to support children with cerebral palsy is amazing. Everyone involved should be very proud.”

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How technology can help young learners to shine during their GCSEs

03 Oct 2019 | news

UK secondary schools are back in full swing as another batch of young people gear up to take their (often) life-changing GCSE exams in this academic year. But there is a group of these young people who will face an extra major challenge to taking their GCSE exams: those who are coping with dyslexia. Worrying evidence shows that young people with dyslexia (or another specific learning difficulty) are half as likely to gain good GCSE passes in English and Maths as those who are unaffected by the condition. Poor diagnosis and support Nearly nine out of ten young people with dyslexia will leave school without being diagnosed. This means they receive no essential specialist support while learning or support for exams. And for those who have been diagnosed, they can be denied the support they need, or the help they receive can often be inadequate, according to the British Dyslexia Association. When you consider that over 80,000 of the young people who sat their GCSEs this year are dyslexic, it reveals a situation that needs remedying quickly. Approximately 700 million people around the world are dyslexic (between 5 – 10% of the total world population), with around 10 - 15% of the UK population having the condition. So it’s certainly not an unusual condition. But the UK secondary education system clearly must get better at both diagnosing dyslexia and supporting young learners with the condition. How technology can help Recite me is cloud-based accessibility software that was specifically designed for education. It is an innovative software solution that makes documents and applications accessible to pupils with disabilities like dyslexia with an easy to use toolbar. Whether the children in your school have dyslexia or moderate learning difficulties, the Recite Me assistive toolbar allows learners to choose how information is displayed and use the features to make content more accessible. It’s easy to use, easy to teach with and easy to maintain. It can work on a large range of learning platforms that your school or university may uses and it also updates automatically, so you’ll always have the most current version. Here’s an explanation of Recite Me’s features and how learners with disabilities like dyslexia can use them to access digital content like documents, apps and websites. Ultimately, the right technology like Recite Me can help young people to shine during their GCSEs. Do you want to make your school, college or university more inclusive? Book your appointment now for a demonstration of how Recite Me works can support you.

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What differing abilities do Recite Me assistive technology support online?

02 Oct 2019 | news

Approximately one billion people globally have a disability and they can often face barriers when visiting inaccessible websites that prevent them from taking an active part in life. The Recite Me assistive toolbar helps people with a wide range of disabilities to access websites and their content hassle-free. Recite Me’s toolbar offers a wide range of personalisation to help people with different disabilities in different ways, here is a breakdown of how it can help people with a range of disabilities. Dyslexia Recite Me helps people with dyslexia and sensory issues to read and understand website content by letting them change the look and feel of a site to suit their personal needs. A user can fully customise the background and text colour as well as the font type, sizing, spacing, and line-height. This includes the specialist Open Dyslexic font, which is designed to give letters extra weight at the bottom, so words don’t jump around the screen. To support reading, dyslexic users can choose to have text read aloud via the fully customisable screen reader. To check word definitions the page the toolbar has a built-in dictionary and thesaurus. Access auditor Keith Ferguson worked with Recite Me’s client St Johnstone FC to help the club improve its accessibility. Commenting on assistive technology being added to the Scottish Premiership football club’s website, he said: “Having this software installed is another example of the club’s commitment to continual improvements and they should be applauded for being the first in the UK. My son is dyslexic and a keen football fan so I encouraged Sean to take a look at the application. His feedback was very positive, advising ‘It is a very clever system. The ‘text to speech’ function is excellent. I really liked the ability to change the font to whatever was easiest for me to read and being able to change the background colour made a huge difference visually, plus I had the assistance of the ruler which was an added tool I wasn’t expecting.” Visual Impairments People with visual impairments need to have the ability to customise a website in order to view content in a way that works best for them. To aid viewing website content visitors can use Recite Me assistive toolbar styling features to customise a website’s background colour and the text (font style, size and colour). People can also use the text-only and margin features to reposition text on a screen with no styling distraction. Users can also opt to have the text read aloud. Martin Lea, Recite Me Sales Executive, has a visual impairment. He said: “I became visually impaired in my mid-forties having acquired a condition that permanently damaged the macular in my right. The range of styling features on the Recite Me assistive toolbar massively support my content reading. Mostly the font size increase button and the colour, contrast, and font options. “All websites have their own styles but there seems to be a trend of using dark grey text on a light grey background which can be frustrating. Recite allows me to apply 'MY' preferred colours and font, to facilitate reading content. Reading paragraphs with essentially just my left eye means it's easy to lose my place in a long paragraph. The ruler keeps me in the right place on-page.” Autism Children and adults with autism can face distinct challenges when reading. Recite Me can support website visitors with a totally customisable screen reader, that allows text to be read out aloud at different speeds, and in different languages, with either a male or female voice. Recite Me provides a totally customisable solution to select any text and background colour combination to support individuals who need specific colours and fonts to aid their reading. ADHD To support people with ADHD and reading content online the Recite Me toolbar offers a screen mask or a ruler allowing them to focus and stop being distracted by other content on the page. Not one case of ADHD is the same, so other users find the fully customisable styling features very useful to help their sensory issues. Dyspraxia To support dyspraxia the Recite Me toolbar offers a totally customisable screen reader. Website visitors can have content read aloud in over 35 different languages and they can control the speed at which the text is readout. To support reading a user can customise the text font, colour, sizing, and spacing. Daniel Cobb specialises in Disability Inclusion and he has dyspraxia. He said of Recite Me being added to our recruitment client Rullion’s website: “This is very powerful for someone like me. I am dyspraxic and have sensory processing difficulties. The process of job hunting is mentally very draining for most job hunters but being dyspraxic makes it significantly worse. “To be able to use the accessibility tools on the website ensures I can process the information with greater efficiency and therefore reduce the visual fatigue I experience from using websites. Also knowing that Rullion as a recruiter is disability confident increases my confidence, they will understand my requirements and means I am likely to disclose with confidence. It is so important for all recruiters to be inclusive and be disability confident like Rullion as it means a large pool of relatively untapped potential can be accessed.” Epilepsy For extreme epilepsy Recite Me can support people online by using the “text only” feature to strip away any media or graphics that may cause a seizure. A user can also change the style of a website page if different colours affect their epilepsy. Hyperlexia Recite Me provides a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus. People with hyperlexia will be able to read words but they may not understand their meanings. Having a built-in dictionary allows people to understand wording without leaving the website. Colour blindness Colour blindness (colour vision deficiency, or CVD) affects approximately one in twelve men (8%) and 1 in 200 women globally. In order to avoid any colour clashes (e.g red and green) Recite Me provides a totally customisable solution to select any background and text colour combination to support individuals who need specific colours and fonts to aid their reading. Martine Robertson, Sales Manager Recite Me, has colour blindness. He said: “As one of the #1in12 men with CVD (Colour Vision Deficiency), more commonly known as colour blindness, one of my biggest frustrations is colour contrast ratios on websites not being sufficiently high to enable me to read the content. It’s most prevalent in footers where the brand colour is black, blue or grey and then the links are red.” Mobility and Physical Impairments Recite Me can help people with a range of physical impairments that affect mobility such as multiple sclerosis (MS), which also affects people’s vision, and motor neurone disease (MND). Recite Me allows people with these conditions to access large passages of text on web pages with minimum effort (and scrolling on pages) by opting for Recite Me to read the text aloud. 100’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible and inclusive…call 0191 4328092 to find out more or book your free trial now.

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Why travellers need accessible websites

27 Sep 2019 | news

The recent collapse of travel company Thomas Cook has seen tens of thousands of travellers from the UK stranded at destinations across the globe. It’s likely that this nightmare scenario will have been even worse for some travellers who have disabilities. Because evidence shows that they often face barriers accessing information when researching, planning, booking and using travel and accommodation. For instance, a report published by travel technology company AMADEUS in late 2017 entitled ‘Voyage of Discovery’ highlights the inaccessibility of information via websites as a major barrier for people with disabilities who want to travel. Travel accessibility is a mainstream issue This study was commissioned to better understand the needs of travellers with accessibility needs, and to outline areas of action for the travel industry to become more accessible. It brings together perspectives from travellers and experts to offer a clear picture of the travel accessibility landscape, including the different needs and pain points of travellers. So why is travel accessibility so important? Because currently over one billion people, about 15% of the world's population, have some form of disability. They are the world’s largest minority. Plus the World Health Organisation estimates that by 2050, 21.5 % of the global population will be aged over 65, and most disabilities are acquired as people grow older. It’s safe to say, people with disabilities who have accessibility requirements represent a large global group. But the travel industry is not fully meeting their accessibility needs and is failing to take advantage of the huge business opportunity this presents. Inaccessible websites stop travellers The study found that nearly half (49%) of people with disabilities surveyed booked transport and accommodation at the same time online. But the study also found that inaccessible websites and web content is the biggest barrier that stops people with disabilities researching, planning and booking transport and accommodation online. Nearly one quarter (24%) of travellers surveyed reported that they had problems searching/ shopping/ booking travel and accommodation online during their last trip due to inaccessible websites. Overall, more than half (53%) of travellers surveyed said they need help with all or part of the booking process. According to the report (pp 9): “The lack of common accessibility standards for the provision of content and services in the travel industry clearly creates real problems for travellers at the time of assessing products and services appropriate for their specific needs, which is why the rating for availability of relevant content on travel websites is low.” Effective online communication is critical The report also identified the four key characteristics of the ideal accessible trip, one of which is effective communication. It goes on to state (pp 16): “On an ideal trip, a traveller should be able to access sites which adhere to standardised web-content accessibility guidelines and allow (for example) blind and partially-sighted people to read them with screen-reading software. “Such sites might also offer access keys for easy navigation and accessible search options. “Information will be reliable and up-to-date and take into account different disability profiles. “The information should be delivered across a range of channels (visual, audio and easy-reading).” Build it and they will come Travel companies like Gatwick Airport, Great Western Railway (GWR) and Arriva UK Bus are leading the way in the UK travel industry by making information and services on their websites accessible. They all use Recite Me’s assistive toolbar to let travellers with a wide range of disabilities and impairments, from dyslexia to sight loss and colour blindness, to easily access their websites and web content. Recite Me works across all mobile and desktop devices to let user customise websites and their content to do what they need to do, wherever they are. Ultimately, the evidence shows that travel companies can grow their market significantly if they remove travel accessibility barriers like inaccessible websites. As the report states (pp 15): “When asked about missed travel opportunities, the study found that travellers would increase their travel budget by 34 per cent (either travelling more or for longer periods of time) if accessibility barriers were eliminated, which is a significant opportunity for the industry.” 100’s of organisations like Gatwick Airport already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible and inclusive…call 0191 4328092 to find out more or book your free trial now.

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Western Sussex Hospitals

24 Sep 2019 | case-study

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust serves a population of around 450,000 people across a catchment area covering most of West Sussex. The Trust runs three hospitals: St.Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, Southlands Hospital in Shoreham-by-Sea and Worthing Hospital in the centre of Worthing.

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