News & Media
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.
One of Scotland’s leading football clubs St Johnstone FC has become the first professional football club in the UK to add Recite Me’s access and language software to their club website. Ahead of the Chris Millar testimonial match with Aberdeen on Sunday, 8 July, the club has launched new software which makes the entire online content more accessible for those who are partially sighted or colour blind for example, or for those where English is not the visitor’s first language. Supporters who access the Club website will now see a round ‘access’ button appearing in the bottom right-hand corner of their screen. If the visitor clicks on the button the Recite Me toolbar will activate at the top of the website’s navigation. Offering a wide-range of functionality and customisation options, Recite Me software gives the visitor the option to change the font and font size and also the background colour – this may be of benefit to fans who are colourblind or dyslexic for example. It also offers a ‘text-to-speech’ function where content can be read out to the user. For visitors for whom English is not their first language the new software can translate content into over 100 different languages. The Recite Me toolbar also offers an integrated dictionary and a virtual magnifying glass amongst other beneficial tools. Commenting on the Club’s launch of the new digital inclusion software, the Chairman of St Johnstone FC Steve Brown 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 whom 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 stated “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. Photo: Iain Kerr, a member of the St Johnstone Disabled Supporters’ Association Access auditor Keith Ferguson said “I carried out an access appraisal at St Johnstone in 2016 in order to meet ScottishF.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.”
When England won the FIFA World Cup for the first and only time in 1966, every England fan who watched the final of the tournament on TV in England saw the game in black and white. But not being able to watch sports on TV in full colour, to help easily distinguish between different teams, people and objects, may seem unimaginable to some people in 2018. And it’s important to acknowledge there are around 2.7 million people in the UK who have a different experience of the colours they see whilst watching and playing sports like football due to colour blindness. Colour vision deficiency, or CVD, is better known as colour blindness and around the world it is more common amongst men (around 1 in 12, or 8 percent), than women (around 1 in 200). In the UK about 4.5% of the population are colour blind, most of whom are men, according to the Colour Blind Awareness Association. Most people who are colour blind can’t fully see red, green or blue light. There are different types of colour blindness and the most common type is red/green colour blind. This makes it difficult for people to identify some shades of greens from browns, or browns from reds, or blues from purples. People who are colour blind who play and watch sports may face a range of difficulties. These span from not clearly understanding which team is playing in which kit, to not being able to work out which button on the TV remote to press to access alternative match commentary. If we look at football in England, last year The FA published guidance notes on colour blindness to raise awareness of its impact on football. The guidance explains colour blindness and offers ways to help people who are colour blind. The guidance also offers information and advice about design issues, including web design issues, such as that you should never represent information by just using colour/s. Recite Me can help people with colour-blindness to access written website content by letting them change the font colour and background colour contrast so they can easily see and read the text. Very handy if you want to read a match report on your favourite football team’s website! 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.
The borough of Torbay, affectionally known as the “English Riviera”, is home to the largest aging population over 65 than anywhere else in the UK. It’s also home to Healthwatch Torbay, a community organisation set up by the government in 2012 to gather local people’s views and experiences about local health and social care services. Here at Recite Me, we’re excited to welcome Healthwatch Torbay as a recent client. We chatted with Simon Culley, Communications Officer at Healthwatch Torbay, to learn more about this valuable organisation and how web accessibility plays such a crucial role in their day-to-day operations. Simon explains, “With an aging population in Torbay, that also comes with extra healthcare concerns. There are more people here with disabilities and visual impairments, so the need to have a more accessible website to reach that main part of the community was absolutely paramount.” Healthwatch, known colloquially as the “TripAdvisor for healthcare”, provides users with a transparent, two-way form of communication between patients and healthcare providers. Patients can rate and review services they’ve used, give a star rating, and write about what they thought was good and/or bad. Similarly, healthcare providers can also use the site to respond to feedback and address any concerns. Since the crux of Healthwatch’s service is carried out online via their website, it became crucial for the organisation to have a website that was well-equipped to cater towards visitors with a variety of individual needs and health concerns. Simon adds, “Ultimately, the people that use more kinds of healthcare services locally are the same people who have these healthcare problems themselves, so the more we get feedback from the actual people using them, the better. We didn’t want anyone to feel like they were missing out or like their voice wasn’t being heard.” Championing the views of everyone, not just a small sector, is an important factor for many businesses, particularly within the healthcare field. Yet, many businesses probably don’t ask for feedback from their most valuable source: their audience and customers. Simon encourages more organisations to listen to their customers, adding: “It sounds simple enough, but the only way you’re going to know if you’re doing a good job is to actually ask the people that you want to get that information from. I think, first and foremost, if organisations do want to know how they can improve, listening to the opinions of the very people you provide your service to gives you the most valuable insight.” The team was recommended to look at Recite Me and were pleasantly surprised. “It blew my mind,” Simon admits, “I didn’t know you could have that wide selection of options. We jumped at the chance to get it. I wrongly assumed it was just a program that would change the font or background color. When Martin went through every feature that was available, it was a real eye-opener and it offered more than anything else we’ve seen before.” Working alongside Martin Lea, Sales Executive at Recite Me, the Healthwatch team were led through a full tutorial to find out how each feature worked, who it would benefit and why. It’s a valuable walk-through which all of our new clients will receive, allowing them to unlock the full benefits of Recite Me. “It really showed us things that we weren’t aware of previously. One of the best features we saw was the dyslexia fonts, as none of us knew that there was a font specifically made for those with dyslexia!” Though it may be common to feel isolated or ignored if you’re dealing with a disability or impairment, rest assured that there is always help available. Whether it’s through contacting your own local Healthwatch branch or finding a local community organisation more aligned with your needs, Simon encourages everyone to do a simple search online to find the many resources out there waiting to help. “Most of all,” he explains, “Never be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask you don’t get, and someone can only say no.” To find out more about Healthwatch, including how to find your local branch, visit www.healthwatch.com To find out more about Recite Me, including how to book your own free demonstration, please visit us at www.reciteme.com
The finalists have been announced for the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2018. They are the only awards to highlight the wealth of charities, businesses and volunteers across the UK that use technology to improve the other people’s lives. Sponsored by BT, the awards are organised by national accessibility charity AbilityNet. This is the eighth year of the awards and entry is open to any business, charity, individual or public body in the UK. We are excited to support the awards, as Recite Me is a sponsor of the awards, and we also donate our web accessibility software to the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards website. You can now vote to pick the winner of the People’s Award, which is chosen by you, members of the general public. You can read about each finalist and their entry on the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards website and cast your vote by sending a tweet using the correct hashtag. For more details and to vote now visit the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards website. The AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2018 finalists are: AbilityNet Accessibility Award Be My Eyes Facebook GiveVision Seeing AI WayToB BT Connected Society Award Alcove Always in Mind Greengame Rafiqi Small Robot Company BT Young Pioneer Award Code Camp IMAREC Mind Moodz Water Watcher Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award Amandla.mobi Gather Lynk Unlocking Talent Through Technology Community Impact Award Digital Voice Kindergifts Mind of My Own Tap to the App Relias Digital Health Award Apart of Me Immersive Rehab Moment Health TapSOS Digital Skills Award CodeYourFuture Generation Code Nominet Digital Neighbourhood Stretchlab Digital Volunteer of the Year Award Ann Crago Anna Holland Smith Graham Gunning Richard Rankin
The Expensive and Unfair Challenges People with Disabilities Face on Trains and Planes Sam Renke is an actress and disability campaigner. She often shares her stories about her experience of using public transport. So we’ve asked her to write a two-part guest blog about how accessible transport is. In part two of her guest blog below Sam explains why PA’s (aka personal assistants, or carers) shouldn’t have to pay for accompanying a person with a disability on a train journey. She also reveals the horrors of flying for people who use wheelchairs. There are two things that really infuriate me when traveling, and I think they should be improved and can easily be changed. They are: the 24 hour rule, and the concessions for PA’s (aka personal assistants, or carers). Here is what I mean. The rule when booking assistance for travelling via trains is that you have to notify the station 24 hours in advance…hmm, interesting. As someone who works freelance I am often given very short notice for auditions or television work. Are ‘we’ not allowed to be spontaneous? Do we not have busy schedules like everyone else? I understand large stations such as Euston have a tremendous amount of people needing assistance on a daily basis. However, that’s really not our problem to solve. The demand for people with assistance requirements is increasing. So the stations need to meet that demand without compromising the way disabled people travel. Simple! We deserve to travel freely and to feel like a valued paying customer. Not an after-thought! I am still baffled by the fact that a person’s companion, or PA (aka personal assistant, or carer) as I prefer to say, still has to pay towards travel when assisting a person with a disability or additional needs. True, they may receive concessions such as a third off. But, my argument always stands like this: let’s say that the venue or transportation you are using was in fact 100 per cent accessible in every sense of the word. Then the likelihood would be that that person would not need any assistance to help navigate the hundreds of pitfalls and obstacles there are absolutely everywhere! It just goes back to the social model of disability: if you have a disabled loo or automatic doors then I wouldn’t need to bring someone along to help me. So in effect I am paying for an extra person to accompany me because you and your establishment/company couldn’t be bothered to adhere to the Equality Act 2010. Therefore, what I would love to see moving forward is free travel or access for anyone accompanying someone with a disability. I don’t know about you but I prefer talking to a real person when I book any of my travel tickets. The reason being online bookings often don’t allow you to specifically book a disabled wheelchair space. This can be a real disadvantage when you want to book from a cheap online service like The Trainline. Let me explain. You may get a cheaper deal on Trainline, but because you can’t click on the wheelchair space when booking tickets, you are taking the risk of that space already being taken. So you still have to call Virgin Trains or National Rail to arrange your assistance and book the wheelchair space. Booking flights online can also be a disaster. In some cases you have to get the dimensions of your wheelchair. And if you are like me and are unable to walk, flying without an accompanist is a case of: THE COMPUTER SAYS HELL NO! Why is this? Well, because even in 2018 there have been no advancements to on board access. Not only is it humiliating being left last to board a flight and be wheeled past other passengers who glare because they realise you have been the one to delay the flight. But once you are on you can’t go to the toilet as they are too small for a wheelchair to enter. One of the most upsetting and frustrating things I face in my life is not being able to fly alone. And I fear that this will stay the same for years to come and I may never get to experience this freedom in my lifetime! Sam