Assistive Technology News – April 2022 round up

Assistive technology news, policy and events. 

Clive, smiling at the cameraDispATches is written by Clive Gilbert, freelance research consultant and specialist writer in public policy, social affairs and technology. 

Born with cerebral palsy, Clive is an extensive user of assistive technology and has first-hand experience of the transformative potential that technology can bring to the lives of disabled people. 

This month's dispATches newsletter is sponsored by TextHelp. 


Policy and Campaigns 

Digital Lifeline Fund reached 5,500 people with learning disabilities

Guidance for home adaptations scheme introduces chapter on assistive technology 

  • New guidance to help local councils provide the Disabled Facilities Grant aimed at making homes more accessible includes a chapter on the wide range of technologies that can be funded by the scheme and advises practitioners on good practice in AT provision. 

TEC Action Alliance to put people at the centre of decision-making 

UK Government announces £2.5 million to make transport more accessible as Covid-19 recedes 

  • Over half the money will be invested in 13 regional Mobility Centres across England to provide advice on technologies and services that can help disabled people travel in confidently and independently. 

Tech Developments and Innovations  

Completely paralysed man uses brain-computer interface to communicate 

  • In a world-first, a project led by the University of Tübingen in Germany has helped a person with motor neurone disease who lives in a 'locked-in' state to express himself in full sentences using a new technology capable of reading his thoughts. 

Morse code keyboard detects rapid eye movements 

  • Freelance software developer Michael Paul Coder's keyboard - which works with any webcam - uses facial recognition technology to help people spell out words by making facial movements that correspond to Morse code. 

Envision smart glasses add new features for blind and visually impaired people 

  • Envision says its two-year-old product can capture text in a written document more rapidly, connect with the user's contacts via video conferencing and recognise over 60 languages. 

Twitter to roll out ALT text and improved image descriptions for all users

  • The social media giant will soon begin tagging images that have been given text descriptions with an 'ALT' badge, which viewers will be able to click to reveal more information.

Training and Professional Development 

Event: Free DSA Connect event by TextHelp DSA Connect TextHelpers

DSA Connect is a free online PD event taking place on 11th May. The event is for learning support staff, assessors, disability advisors, AT specialists and other professionals supporting FE and HE students. Expert speakers include:

  • Lord (Chris) Holmes of Richmond MBE, a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion
  • Chris Collier, a DSA needs assessor and Assistive Technology consultant
  • Laura Stephens, Learning Support Subject Leader - Barton Peveril Sixth Form College
  • Louisa Rose, CEO of Beyond - mental health charity 
  • Mandy Whalley, Founder and  Director of Empowerment Passport Ltd 

Speakers will share practical advice to help anyone who provides personal learning support for disabled students, including how to make the most of technology to give students increased confidence, productivity and success. 

Get your free ticket for DSA Connect 

Training: AbilityNet Accessible Translation and Localisation

Venue: Online
Date: Wednesday 18th May
Get an introduction to the key considerations when translating and localising websites and mobile apps with accessibility in mind. 

Save on AbilityNet training courses

Use the code Dispatches10, for 10% off all courses. Topics include 'How to produce accessible videos', 'Accessible social media', and more.

Plus, if you're booking training courses for you and your team, take advantage of our offer where you can buy 10 tickets for the price of 8.

Event: Communication Works 2022   

  • Venue: Charlton Athletic FC
  • Date: Thursday 19th May
  • An annual event that offers attendees an opportunity to see a range of assistive technologies and take part in informative seminars.

Event: Getting Started with Grid

  • Venue: Online
  • Date: Tuesday 3rd May
  • Smartbox host a three-hour training workshop for anyone who wants to start using the popular AAC software package Grid.

Event: Matters of Access and Disability

  • Venue: Online
  • Date: Wednesday 25th May
  • The University of Plymouth hosts a webinar exploring the need for systematic and cultural change to help disabled people pursue higher education – including through technology.
More accessibility and assistive technology events

You can find more events, including events AbilityNet runs and are speaking at on our website.

Tech Tip

Setting up a one-handed keyboard on an iOS device

Do you have a contribution for next month's dispATches? Email Clive if you have a comment or contribution for next month's newsletter.

Further resources 

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people. If you can afford it, please donate to help us support older and disabled people through technology