News & Media
J.K Rowling is publishing a new book today. Here's why it's so important for the Disability Community.
In 2013, a crime novel titled The Cuckoo’s Calling was published by an unknown, up-and-coming author named Robert Galbraith. A detective story following a private investigator who investigates the classic “whodunits”, the book quickly started to receive positive reviews. After Galbraith was revealed in the summer of 2013 to be none other than JK Rowling, best known for her Harry Potter series, the series of novels have become worldwide bestsellers and even spawned a BBC television adaption. But here’s the significance: Cormoran Strike, the lead detective in the novels, is an amputee war veteran. Rowling herself said on her website, “Making him an amputee added another dimension, allowing me to show the day to day reality of living with a disability, which many war veterans are having to face these days.” Disabilities are clearly very close to Rowling’s heart. Her own mother, Anne, died from multiple sclerosis in 1990 and never came to see Rowling’s success come to fruition. Since then, Rowling has become a keen philanthropist and has donated millions of pounds to disability charities around the world, including multiple sclerosis and dyslexia causes. While not all of us can relate to murder chases around the city of London, we can all agree that representation matters. These books are still the first series of bestselling novels who follow an openly disabled character and his regular trials and tribulations of everyday life. That’s not something to take lightly. A lead character who is openly physically disabled, and arguably struggling mentally, is something that is especially relevant for our time. With one in ten people living with a disability and an estimated one in four who will be affected by mental health at some point in their lives, these are incredibly significant realities that people around the world are living with every day. The fourth book in the series, Lethal White, is published worldwide today, including large print and audio formats.
Recently, Recite Me team members Alison Wilson and Toni Rayner took part in this year’s Great North Run on Sunday 9th September. The run is the largest half marathon in the world which takes place between Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields. This year’s runners included Olly Murs, Ross Noble and Mo Farah… as well as our very own Alison & Toni! Together, Alison and Toni raised over £700 for the Charlie Cookson Foundation. We sat down with Alison & Toni to get their thoughts on the big day. Alison and Toni, congratulations on completing the Great North Run! How was the experience? Toni: “This was my fifth GNR and definitely my best. I had my heart set on a time and was focused.” Alison: “It was my first GNR. Toni has done loads and I blame her for getting me into this! It was an amazing day, the whole atmosphere, event organisation, everything was just awesome. I’ll be honest I found it harder than I had hoped, but I never stopped, I became a run/walker towards the end.” How did your training go? Alison: “Training? Ah that’s what you’re supposed to do! It could have been better, I get easily distracted and pass on nights I’m supposed to run. Especially when it’s dark and cold.” Toni: “Very well! This is the first time I have trained solo as I’ve always trained with others in the past. I was determined to go for my personal best this year so I decided to undertake the training on my own.” What kind of songs would we find on your running playlist? Any favorites that get you through hard runs? Toni: “Nothing gets you through a half marathon like The Greatest Showman playlist!” Alison: “Well I had my playlist sorted but for whatever reason, it wouldn’t work on the day!! But I had some cheeky 80’s tunes and a bit of AC/DC at the ready.” Any memorable moments from the day? Toni: “The crowds were amazing. I think the people handing out ice pops and beer saved the day. Overall, my favorite moment was seeing my little boy cheering me on at the 12-mile mark.” Alison: “Memorable would have to be the man carrying a kayak – I thought he was going to overtake me so that gave me a push to go a bit harder. Also, all the people being pushed in wheelchairs, such commitment and passion, the GNR brings out the best in so many people. My favourite moment has to be running through the finish line like I was Zola Budd! Now that’s me showing my age!” Tell us more about the Charlie Cookson Foundation for those who don’t know. What do they do? Toni: “The Charlie Cookson Foundation provides financial support to the parents of seriously ill children with life-limiting conditions who require 24-hour nursing care or specialist nursing facilities. The Foundation raises awareness of the difficulties faced by parents and carers who care for seriously ill children and strives to improve the quality of life of sick and seriously ill children by providing information, advice and support. They have established strong working relationships with professionals working in local hospitals to ensure that the needs and wishes of parents, carers and children are heard and considered.” What made you both decide to run for the Charlie Cookson Foundation? Toni: “I have a personal connection to the charity through a family member who is now the events manager there. I am lucky enough to know Chris and Sarah (Charlie’s parents) personally and am often involved with fundraisers they do. The next one I will be attending is their annual charity ball in October.” Alison: “Toni introduced me to the CCF, and I just loved what they do for families. Anything to do with children always pulls at my heartstrings. I’m very pleased (and proud) that I’ve managed to support them by doing my first GNR.” Any advice for anyone who’s interested in doing the Great North Run? Toni: “Train, Train and Train! It will honestly help make it easier if you can get some miles on your legs so you your body isn’t shocked by what you are putting it through.” Alison: “Train, don’t give up, and most importantly enjoy the day. It really is amazing to be part of.” And finally… same again next year?! Alison: “If you had asked me 30 seconds after crossing the line I would have said no way, but now that I’ve just bought a Garmin looks like I’m sticking with the running thing after all.” Toni: “Definitely! I’m aiming for under two hours next year.” Congratulations again to Alison and Toni for such a huge achievement. To find out more about the Charlie Cookson Foundation, including Charlie’s own story, visit charliecookson.org.uk. To donate to Toni’s fundraising fund, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Toni-Rayner4
Arriva UK Bus is part of Arriva plc, one of the largest passenger transport providers in Europe, employing some 54,500 people and delivering more than 2.2 billion passenger journeys across 14 European countries every year. It currently operates a fleet of some 5,900 vehicles in the UK alone, providing services in the North East, North West and South East of England, Yorkshire, the Midlands and Wales.
‘Vulnerable customer’ is now a commonly used phrase and many organisations are working hard to develop policies to support their customers and service-users. But, do we really understand what this term actually means and how we can provide the best customer support online? It’s quite hard to pin down an actual definition of a vulnerable customer, but the Financial Conduct Authority uses this one: “a vulnerable consumer is someone who, due to their personal circumstances, is especially susceptible to detriment, particularly when a firm is not acting with appropriate levels of care.” And, according to the Essential Services Access Network (ESAN), which looks after the interests of vulnerable consumers across the UK’s 4 main industry sectors (energy, water, financial services and communications), a person’s vulnerability can be caused by a wide range of life events such as becoming unemployed, getting divorced or losing a loved-one. Also, there are a number of other risk factors that can play a role: · Poor literacy, numeracy and financial capability · Low or insecure income, zero-hours contracts · Caring responsibilities for another person · Disability, mental health condition, or long-term illness · Living in social rented housing or in a lone-parent household A quick review of some of the key diversity statistics we have published previously shows that the numbers of people who are potentially at greater risk of vulnerability are significant and in many cases on the increase. Businesses and public services are realising that we need to develop a better understanding of the diverse needs of more vulnerable consumers and how to support them. The trade association for the energy industry, Energy UK, which represents over 90% of both UK power generation and the energy supply market for UK homes, has set up a Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances, which is exploring how standards of care and support for vulnerable customers can be improved. We were keen to share our insights on supporting vulnerable consumers online with the Commission as we are proud to be working with a number of utility businesses, including Western Power, South East Water and United Utilities, and we submitted our evidence to the Commission. The number one challenge our clients report to us in relation to providing online assistance to vulnerable customers is that of identification - people don’t like to think of themselves as being ‘vulnerable’. There is a conundrum there that many organisations struggle with. How can we provide additional or specialist support for our digital customers if they don’t (want to) tell us they need our help? How do we know if we’re getting it right for them? In our opinion, great online customer service is all about being flexible and understanding; by treating each of your web visitors as an individual you make sure their needs are catered for. Our software enables website visitors to customise content so that it can be accessed and consumed more easily by people with many different communication needs, including people who are partially sighted, have dementia, dyslexia or autism and those with English as a second-language. Importantly, when it comes to disclosure, these adjustments can be made within the individual’s web browser without them having to tell you anything about themselves that they don’t want to. By enabling your customers to customise your website the way they need it to work for them, you are solving the conundrum. The Commission for Customers in Vulnerable Circumstances will report by the end of 2018 and make recommendations for industry, Government and other stakeholders. We look forward reading the report and continuing to work together with our clients to make the digital world more inclusive for vulnerable customers. 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 demo now.
SHOW TIME! How accessible is the theatre for disabled people? My experiences - by Samantha Renke London certainly has one of the world’s most vibrant theatre scenes, with an estimated 14.5 million theatregoers per annum. But what, in reality, does going to the theatre look like when you have a disability? As someone who had ‘jazz hands’ in my mother’s womb, I couldn’t wait to move to London and have the West End literally on my doorstep. Going to the theatre is a magical experience and I assumed that I would make it a regular pastime. However, after six years of London living I can honestly say that I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve attended a show. So what is it really like being a disabled theatregoer? Theatres and performance venues around the UK have, in recent years, recognised the demand from disabled consumers wanting to attend shows. And so they should; as the disabled community is estimated to have a collective spending power of over £249 billion (nicknamed the purple pound). There have been significant attempts to increase access across theatres, with many striving to enable access to those with physical disabilities, hard of hearing, deaf, visually impaired or those who have learning disabilities, by introducing signed performances, relaxed performances and audio scripted performances. Although attitudes seem to be changing for the better and real efforts have been made across the country to ensure disabled theatregoers are included and more importantly welcomed, I do still see many pitfalls for disabled consumers that still are overlooked or not thought about in this access ‘revolution’. Below, I share some of my most recent experiences when out and about in the West End. If you have a disability, researching a venue beforehand is key so that you can scope out their access policy. Unfortunately, the word ‘access’ still seems to be a grey area, as I recently found out when I attended a small cabaret show situated at a private club for West End performers. After looking on their website they appeared to have access: stating they had a disabled parking bay nearby, advising on accessible tube stations close to the venue and even offering concessions for PA’s - as I scrolled down the page I was shocked and in disbelief to then read that they unfortunately did not have an accessible bathroom. Upon arriving at the venue I came face to face with three flights of stairs. The staff informed me that they had all been trained in lifting and handling and were happy to carry me in my chair down the stairs. As someone who has Brittle Bones condition this is a terrifying proposition. Although they had the proper training I can’t help but feel as though offering someone with a disability the option of being manhandled a very ‘ableist’ attitude towards accessibility. Although I have a very lightweight chair it occurred to me that no amount of lifting training could support an electric wheelchair, rendering this option void. Being spontaneous when you have a disability can be near impossible at times but for those who do take a risk and decide to go see a show on a whim - they may well be disappointed as I found when going to see a matinee performance of The Bodyguard with a friend. As I hadn’t booked in advance I found myself unable to be offered a designated wheelchair space. Theatres often only have a handful of designated seats and it's a first come basis. Not wanting to disappoint my friend I ended up sitting on his lap for most of the show as the ‘normal’ seat I was allocated was far too low. We were however still offered concessions for my friend which softened the blow somewhat. I’m not sure if it was enough for my friend though, whose leg I crushed during the show! Attitudinal barriers overlap with physical ones at times and I have repeatedly been split up from friends at events, theatre, concerts etc. I am aware that venues have limited spaces, but an assumption that a disabled person would not have more than one friend is often the case. At a concert at Kew Gardens recently, my party of four were not allowed to enter the raised viewing platform allocated at the front. As I wanted to share my memories and fun times with all my friends I declined the accessible platform so that we could sit together. Needless to say I couldn’t see a darn thing, but I knew I had made the right choice as being with my group meant more to me than the concert itself. I don’t wish to deter anyone from going to the theatre as it’s such an amazing opportunity, I would however, urge disabled theatregoers to do your research and be prepared of these hidden access fails. For London’s TOP TEN accessible theatres please visit: https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/whats-on/theatre/theatre-accessibility For more general access information please visit - http://solt.co.uk
Going to the theatre is a rich, immersive experience that shouldn’t be off-limits to anyone. Thankfully, in recent years, venues have been doing more to increase accessibility for disabled people in terms of physical access to the performance and building. Ramps have been installed, and accessible toilets and lifts are now in use. Once inside, more venues are also providing captioning, audio description and BSL services, as well as autism-friendly or relaxed performances. ‘I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.’ - Oscar Wilde All of this is a real step forward in enabling disabled people to access and enjoy a visit to the theatre, once a ticket is booked. But how does someone with an impairment find out about performances and book a ticket in the first place? Nowadays it's common for people to find out their information online. Theatres publish their seasonal programme months in advance, and people can book their tickets immediately – as well as see which performances are more accessible. But not everyone is able to access this information. For some, getting information from an inaccessible website is nigh-on impossible. It may be that they are visually impaired, colour blind, or unable to make sense of the many words and pictures they are faced with on-screen. So are theatres doing enough to ensure equality of access at this initial port of call? Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, David Issac thinks not. In the Commission’s 2016 response to the Lords Select Committee Report on the Equality Act 2010 and its effect on the lives of disabled people, he called for a new national focus on disability rights - so that disabled people are no longer treated as ‘second class citizens’. Restaurants, theatres, concert venues, sports stadia and all those providing services need to raise their game, he said, so disabled people are not at a disadvantage. Businesses must use digitalisation as an opportunity to make it easier for disabled people to use their services online. Denying access to a large customer base simply is not good business practice and large venues must make it easier for disabled customers to access and buy tickets. So what can theatres and other venues do to make their websites more accessible? The Recite Me toolbar is used by many businesses to enable disabled customers, clients and partners to use their site more effectively. For users whose first language is not English, for example, there is a translation option. Font sizes can be easily adjusted, text can be read aloud, and a dictionary used if needed. Even features such as changing the colour scheme can be super handy for people who may find it difficult to identify what they need on a busy, colourful site. We’d like to see web access considered more in guides such as the accessible theatres guide, so that more people are able to experience the wonder of live theatre.
What a busy summer season of sports we’ve had – from the World Cup, to Wimbledon, the Tour de France and the European Championships. It feels like watching sport has never been so easily accessible. But what about taking part? How easy is it as a disabled person to find local sporting activities to get involved with, and are sports clubs doing enough to make sure no one is excluded. National charity, Activity Alliance, found that seven out of ten disabled people want to be more active. Activity Alliance brings members, partners and disabled people together to make active lives possible. Collectively, they challenge perceptions and change the reality of disability, inclusion and sport. We spoke to the Deputy CEO of Activity Alliance, Andy Dalby Welsh, to get his thoughts. So Andy, tell us a bit about how you got into your role at Activity Alliance ‘I started here 18 months ago, and as deputy CEO I oversee marketing and communications, research insight and develop the corporate services side of things. It’s an exciting challenge – we want to lift the participation rates of disabled people all over the country – because we know that it is so brilliant for people physically and mentally, but also socially. My personal experience mirrors this, as my eyesight started to deteriorate when I was 20 years old – I got involved with a blind cricket club locally. Many years on, I am still going to the cricket and socialising with friends I met there.’ What do you think could be done online to enable disabled people to be more active? ‘At Activity Alliance, we work with other organisations to help improve what they do. One of our most downloaded resources is our inclusive communications guide, which gives information on what can be done to make engagement specifically more accessible. It covers things like posters, to imagery, font sizes, colour etc. And also gives guidance around web design and the digital side of things.’ As someone who is registered blind yourself, do you use the web much to find out information? How accessible do you find it? ‘I do use the web but find it frustrating. In my work I use the computer a lot, but it’s not something I’d necessarily choose to do in my free time – only if there’s a specific purpose.’ ‘I use software that reads aloud the content to me on screen. If there are images on a page that aren’t tagged it makes it hard to understand. And if there’s a link which doesn’t describe what it is – just uses the long web address, for example – that’s frustrating too. Colour contrasts can also make things difficult. On the whole, it’s quite basic stuff that should be pretty simple to have in place. Once I know my way around a site it gets easier, but if I need something specific like a ticket to the football I’d much rather give them a call to book than try to do it online.’ So how important do you think web accessibility is in terms of enabling disabled people to be more active? ‘The web is only one way of communicating but it’s a very important way of communicating. The introduction of smart phones especially have been really important for disabled people, as they can be accessed on the move. If a website is accessible it can be an important gateway. When disabled people are so often inactive, we need all the mechanisms possible to give them the best chance.’ You can find out more about Activity Alliance’s work on their website: www.activityalliance.org.uk. Recite Me provides a range of web accessibility software for organisations and companies looking to make their website more accessible. Find out more about what features are available on our features page.
New College Lanarkshire is the second-largest college in Scotland and is the largest in Lanarkshire. The College has more than 25,000 students enrolled in a range of full-time, commercial and evening courses across its six campuses – Motherwell, Cumbernauld, Coatbridge, Kirkintilloch, Hamilton and Broadwood. With thousands of courses available across six faculties, it is essential for the College to provide up to date, comprehensive and accessible information on its main website.
For many people in the theatre and arts world, August can only mean one thing: Edinburgh. Every year, the Scottish capital plays host to The Edinburgh Festival, and even bigger Fringe Festival which runs alongside, claiming to the largest arts festival in the world. Established in 1947, the Fringe has been running for over 70 years – priding itself on being an open access – meaning that there is no selection committee, and anyone can participate with any type of performance. With shows spanning across comedy, theatre, dance, circus, music, opera, spoken word, children’s shows, events, exhibitions and more, no wonder over 450,000 visitors flock to Edinburgh every year to get a taste of the vibrant atmosphere and experience the eclectic performances to be found all over the city. Last year alone there were 53,232 performances recorded of 3,398 individual shows at the Fringe. But how accessible are these to disabled people? The good news is that since 2015, the Fringe has been looking to make sure the festival is as accessible as possible, so that ‘anyone really can take part in the Fringe.’ They have created a number of services and initiatives that support this – such as the ‘Access tickets service’ – which provides specialised Box Office staff to handle access enquiries and ticket bookings. Detailed information on their website also lists accessible performances, ticket collection points, travel information, changing places and other useful links. But what about people for whom getting to or understanding this information online is a challenge? Although the website does feature a text resize button, it looks like there are no other features to support disabled users to access the website itself. Features from the Recite Me toolbar could well come in handy here, such as the change language button – with so many overseas visitors to the festival looking for information online. As well as the read aloud features, colour changing palette etc. With so many disabilities being ‘unseen’ in this way, it’s often this digital first port of call which prevents disabled people from accessing arts events in the first place. It is great to offer specialist box office staff, for example, but if a disabled person can’t find out the telephone number, or where to go because the text on the site is unreadable for them, they are still unable to book. With such a clear commitment to accessibility and such a huge range of performance on offer, we’d love to see the Fringe taking this on board with more accessible features on their website – so the festival can truly live up to its open access status.
Accessing Royal Cornwall Hospitals’ website is, in many ways, a web-user’s dream. On the website’s homepage, visitors are given a clear set of menu options designed to help them navigate the site with ease. This includes everything from information on staying in hospital, visiting patients, finding a consultant, to finding a job. Of course, with Recite Me’s accessibility toolbar also implemented, navigating this website becomes all the more easy and user-friendly. We spoke with Richard Pearson, Senior Web Designer and Graphic Designer at Royal Cornwall Hospitals to find out more about NHS Cornwall’s approach to web accessibility. Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust provides acute care and specialist health services across three main hospitals: Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance, and St. Michael’s Hospital in Hayle. Currently, the hospitals serve around 430,000 patients, a figure which can often increase during busy times of the year, and employs 5,000 staff. Richard explains that web accessibility is something that has been at the forefront of their web development work for years. He explains, “Over the years, we’ve used several content management systems for out intranets and internet sites, however, over the past five years we’ve learned to use Wordpress, PHP and other related services to develop our websites. Our approach is multi-disciplined and covers a wide range of areas including web, design, photographer, servers, and infographics.” Richard adds that his team identified the need for web accessibility a few years ago. While researching new accessibility products, they discovered Recite Me and asked for a free trial after realizing it ticked all of their list of requirements. He adds, “Everyone was very impressed with it and, subsequently, we purchased and implemented it on multiple sites including Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust.” As Cornwall is a popular tourist destination, along with having an elderly population who often retire there, the RCHT’s website demographics are often widely mixed. Richard explains, “The tourist industry dictates a large volume of our visitors and patients, so I would say people from middle aged to older is definitely the higher audience.” Unsurprisingly, the elderly audience often have difficulties reading the website due to age-related vision impairments, meaning web accessibility within the healthcare field is all the more important to consider. Coincidentally, Richard tells us that the website’s features explaining hospital services and listing waiting times are two of their most popular web pages. Richard credits the sales team for also adding to his positive experience of using Recite Me. The team has already seen the value that comprehensive yet easy to use software can provide to their organisation. Richard tells us, “Recite Me have been great to work with and have great prices. We’ve bought several licenses and referred other organizations. Any problems we’ve had have been very minor and dealt with very quickly. The implementation process has also been especially easy for us web-savvy people!” As a Senior Web Designer, Richard is evidently highly knowledgeable when it comes to web development. Nevertheless, he still encourages all organisations to consider their own approaches to web accessibility. He adds, “In this day and age, you absolutely have to be offering these services to cater for everyone’s needs. We’ve been really impressed by Recite Me so far, so the advice I’d have to other organisations is to get Recite Me bought and installed straight away.” To learn more about Royal Cornwall Hospitals, visit https://www.royalcornwall.nhs.uk/ To learn more about Recite Me, including how to book your free demo, visit http://www.reciteme.com/
The Department for Transport published a new Inclusive Transport Strategy on 25 July 2018 that aims to improve accessibility across the UK’s transport network for disabled people. It is hoped that the new measures will make travel fully accessible and inclusive for disabled passengers by 2030. Funds of up to £300 million for the ‘Access for All’ programme are being made available for long-overdue improvements to our travel network and this is being billed as part of a government drive to create a more inclusive society. As well as investing in the accessibility of the rail infrastructure, the strategy includes plans for a ‘league table’ to shine a light on those train operators that deliver the best service for disabled travellers. Some of the money will be used on providing accessible toilets at motorway service stations. Some of the money will go on improving Passenger Assist, the system disabled people use to book assistance when they travel. This booking system is vital for many disabled people and is in much need of an overhaul. Another £2 million is being made available to improve audio-visual technology on buses, which means that disabled passengers, particularly those with hearing or sight loss, will be better placed to navigate bus routes. It has been revealed that some of the funds will also be set aside for developing more inclusive and innovative technology. The new Inclusive Transport Strategy was developed following the Accessibility Action Plan consultation that have over 1,000 responses from disabled people and passenger groups. Crucially, the strategy includes raising awareness on disabled passengers’ rights, plans for staff training and improvements to accessible information. Ross Linnett, founder & CEO of Recite Me said: “The Inclusive Transport Strategy is comprehensive and includes detailed plans that will enhance the accessibility of transport in the UK. “I am particularly pleased to see that, along with all the enhancements to our travel infrastructure, the 12-year strategy recognises the need to make improvements to accessible information. “The vast majority of travel information is now accessed be passengers via websites or apps, it is essential that travel operators and the government don’t overlook the need for improving digital accessibility inclusion as part of the Inclusive Transport Strategy.”
Gateshead is a diverse, multi-cultural town in the NE of England with a population of over 200,000. Gateshead Council’s Website is a portal for all businesses and citizens in and around Gateshead. It provides useful information about all kinds of different areas which are important to businesses and citizens, such as: events, transport, benefits & council tax, education & learning, environment, housing, jobs & employment, leisure & culture.
The winners of the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2018 were revealed earlier this week at the annual awards ceremony in BT Centre, London. These are the only awards to highlight the amazing people from charities, business and volunteers across the UK who use digital technology to make the world a better place. The awards showcase how new technology is being created to change people’s lives for the better and the power of technology to transform the lives of people with disabilities was as a strong theme for 2018. This year’s winners included Be My Eyes, which is an accessibility app that uses a smartphone to connect blind people with sighted volunteers. The winners also included an app called TapSOS, which was originally designed for the Deaf community and provides a non-verbal way of contacting the Emergency Services. The awards are organised by national digital accessibility charity AbilityNet and sponsored by BT and supported by charities and businesses including Lloyds Banking Group, Microsoft and Tech Trust. The winners were chosen by a judging panel includes experts from the BBC, the tech industry, charities and government. Recite Me is a sponsor of this year’s AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards, for the second year running, and we also support the awards by donating our Recite Me web accessibility software for use on the awards website. The AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2018 winners are: 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 WaytoB was chosen as the winner of this award by the general public. The public were encouraged to read about each finalist on the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards website and vote for their choice for the People’s Award by sending a tweet using a dedicated hashtag. Recite Me Founder & CEO Ross Linnett said: “As someone who has dyslexia and created Recite Me accessibility software to overcome this challenge, I know first-hand about the power of tech to change people’s lives. “So these awards are close to my heart. That’s why I think these awards are so special, and worth shouting about. “Congratulations to all the winners of the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2018, they richly deserve the credit they are receiving.”
Scottish football club St Johnstone FC has become the first professional football club in the UK to add Recite Me’s accessibility and language software to the club’s website. The Perth-based team, nicknamed Saints, introduced the new software ahead of the side’s pre-season friendly with Aberdeen on Saturday 8 July. The club has introduced Recite Me to make popular online content like club news and fixture dates, plus the ability to make ticket purchases, available to as many people as possible. When you visit the St Johnstone FC website you will now see a round blue and white button with a person on it in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. You can click on the button to open the Recite Me toolbar, which will appear at the top of the website. The Recite Me software can change the font size of the text, read it out aloud to you, or even change the language into over 100 different languages – from Scottish Gaelic to Serbian. Steve Brown, Chairman of St Johnstone FC, said: “I’m delighted that Saints are leading the way in British football with the use of this software. I’ve seen the demonstration and it’s really impressive. “It’s easy to see the benefits for supporters with a range of difficulties with vision and other disabilities which affect their ability to get the most out of the website, as well as for anyone for who English is not their first language. “This investment puts St Johnstone FC at the forefront of the use of this technology and is great for the club.” Sandy Riach from the Scottish Disabled Supporters Association said: “This is a game changing piece of software that opens up a whole new world to people with disabilities. All of the functions make using the club website even more accessible and user friendly. “A great piece of software development which ticks another box in making the world a more inclusive place.” Access auditor Keith Ferguson said “I carried out an access appraisal at St Johnstone in 2016 in order to meet Scottish F.A. licencing requirements. It was clear to me then that the club took the subject of accessibility seriously and have worked hard at making improvements whether small or large. “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.’” Ross Linnett, CEO & Founder of Recite Me said: “St Johnstone FC are a club supported by a diverse and growing community in Perth and beyond, who all want to stay in touch with the club’s latest news. “Nowadays people also want to be able to customise web content to suit their own preferences and they want it to work on their computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Football fans are no different. “Recite Me’s access and language functionality truly makes St Johnstone FC’s website more accessible and inclusive for their fans and also for other users who may be looking to book facilities at McDiarmid Park. We hope to see other football clubs following suit and making their website more inclusive for everyone.”
Football is now a huge online market, with every professional club, and many amateur ones, now having their own websites. Football supporters are often passionate about their teams and many go online religiously to read about club and player news. They also want to be able to buy tickets and merchandise like replica kits via their team’s website. But how can disabled supporters enjoy these benefits if a football club’s website is inaccessible? Unfortunately it’s an issue that many disabled football supporters have to deal with, but football clubs can put the work in to make their websites accessible to as many people as possible. For example, clubs can build their websites and other digital resources (e.g. apps) to the minimum legal standard (Level AA of the World Content Accessibility Guidelines, WCAG 2.1) to ensure that they work well for people with disabilities. But building websites to the correct standard is only part of the challenge and user testing is the key to making websites accessible for people with disabilities. This can either involve football clubs carrying out their own user testing with small groups of people with varying disabilities, or they can use organisations like AbilityNet to do it for them. Either way, the results from user testing websites offer great insights which clubs can learn from in order to develop their websites to make them as accessible to as many people as possible. Football clubs can also add web accessibility software like Recite Me to their websites to ensure that they’re widely accessible. Scottish football team St Johnstone has become the first professional club in the UK to add Recite Me to its website to help it meet the needs of its supporters who have disabilities. The Recite Me toolbar allows anyone who visits the website to change the size of the text, opt to have it read aloud, or even change the language into over 100 different languages – from Scottish Gaelic to Slovak. 100’s of organisations already use Recite Me to make their websites more accessible for people with disabilities – book your free demo now or call on 0191 4328092 to find out more.