TechAbility’s 2020 Conference, ‘Access to a Digital Future’ brings together practitioners, experts and suppliers to discuss and demonstrate how a digital future can be made accessible to all, with the right use of technology.

The conference is taking place on Tuesday 3 November, 9:30 am – 3:45 pm

Please visit the event page on the Natspec website for further details about how to book your place for this event.

Schedule

Time Session
09:15 – 09:30 Delegate login, audio and video check
09:30 – 09:40 Introduction to the day including practical arrangements, Fil McIntyre
09:45 – 10:05 Presentations Breakout Room 1:
Accessibility insights from video assessment, Craig Brown, Hereward College

Presentations Breakout Room 2:Apps for Independence – lessons from delivering AT training in India, Neil Beck, TechAbility & National Star College

10:10 – 10:20 AT Shorts Breakout Room 1:
The Nuvoic project – non-standard speech recognition, Liz Howarth, Karten Network
Skoog – Making music easy, Skoogmusic

AT Shorts Breakout Room 2:
Video Conferencing with a Sight Impairment: a conversation, Jo Healy, Vision North Somerset
ClaroRead and Claro Apps, Claro Software

10:25 – 10:45 Presentations Breakout Room 1:
Accessible Gaming, Simon Barnett, National Star and Joshua Reeves, Disability Rights Campaigner

Presentations Breakout Room 2:Sensory Rooms – Getting it Right, Richard Hirstwood and Carol Allen, Hirstwood Training

10:45 – 11:15 Break
11:20 – 11:30 AT Shorts Breakout Room 1:
Earswitch – Hands free, silent and invisible control, Nick Gompertz, Earswitch
Introduction to Global tasks, LexAble Ltd

AT Shorts Breakout Room 2:
5 AT solutions in 5 minutes, Max Bianconi, Jewish Care
Glean by Sonocent, Sonocent

AT Shorts Breakout Room 3:
The Assistive Technologist’s Role in the Special Education Classroom, Chris Norrie, Dundee University
Cognitive Support for Autism & Learning Disabilities in Education, Abilia UK Ltd

11:35 – 12:30 Discussion Breakout Room 1:
Themed discussion featuring presenters from morning Breakout 1 sessions and related AT Shorts presenters. Delegates can ask more depth questions and share their own experience. Chaired by Neil Beck

Discussion Breakout Room 2:Themed discussion featuring presenters from morning Breakout 2 sessions and related AT Shorts presenters. Delegates can ask questions and share their own experience. Chaired by Fil McIntyre

12:30 – 13:25 Lunchtime
13:30 – 13:50 Presentations Breakout Room 1:
Become a qualified AT: Introduction to the new Educational Assistive Technologist course, Rohan Slaughter, Dundee University

Presentations Breakout Room 2:Using Amazon Echo devices with Adults with Learning Disabilities and Autism, Carrie Sant, Fitzroy

13:55 – 14:05 AT Shorts Breakout Room 1:
Chrome Text to Speech: Promoting Independent Learning, Sean Connolly, Cedar Foundation
The DfE EdTech Demonstrator Schools and Colleges Programme, Erica Smith, Highfurlong School

AT Shorts Breakout Room 2:
“Give me a Minute” and “Handshake”, Matt Oppenheim, Lancaster University
Introducing Boardmaker 7, Tobii Dynavox

AT Shorts Breakout Room 3:
Supporting AT in practice, Richard Bright, Newbridge Group
Inspiration 10: Helping users with SpLDs, Inspiration

14:10 – 14:30 Keynote Presentation:
Widening access? The future of assistive technology policy in the UK, Clive Gilbert, Policy Connect
14:35 – 15:30 Discussion:
Themed discussion featuring presenters from afternoon sessions and related AT Shorts presenters. Delegates can ask more depth questions and share their own experience. Chaired by Neil Beck and Fil McIntyre
15:35 – 15:45 Closing remarks from Neil Beck and Fil McIntyre

 

Workshops and Presentations

There will be two types of sessions happening throughout the day. The first, a series of 20 minute presentations, are practice based and provide practical solutions to issues you might be facing. The second, a series of 5 minute AT-shorts, highlight new AT projects, suppliers, and quick fire hints.

20 Minute Workshops

Accessibility insights from remote assessment, Craig Brown, Hereward College

During lockdown many pre-entry AT assessments at Hereward College were carried out remotely. On many occasions this provided knowledge of additional or different skills and accessibility requirement would be gained from a face-to-face assessment.

Apps for Independence – lessons from delivering AT training in India, Neil Beck, TechAbility / National Star

As part of a link with educators, Neil delivered AT training to teachers in India.  The limitations of budget and available technologies required some imaginative, free and cheap solutions.  Here Neil shares how the learning from this project can be applied in the UK and beyond.

Sensory Rooms – Getting it right, Carol Allen and Richard Hirstwood, Hirstwood Training

Carol and Richard have many years of experience ensuring that sensory rooms can be interactive learning environments. This presentation will help you get the best use out of your current room or get the design right for a future room.

Become a qualified Educational Assistive Technologist, Rohan Slaughter, JISC / Dundee University

Dundee University recently launched an Educational Assistive Technology MSc. This exciting new course – commencing in January 2021 – will give formal recognition to the role of the Assistive Technologist in education. Rohan has been instrumental in joining with University of Dundee setting up the course and will describe content, modes of delivery and entry requirements.

Widening access? The future of assistive technology policy in the UK, Clive Gilbert, Policy Connect

This presentation will explore the role of the state in the past, present and future of assistive technology provision in the UK

Using Amazon Echo devices with Adults with Learning Disabilities and Autism, Carrie Sant, Fitzroy

An overview of Fitzroy’s journey so far in using Echo Dots with the people we support in registered care homes, supported living and day service environments. Included will be the successes and challenges we have encountered along the way.

Accessible Gaming, Simon Barnett, National Star & Joshua Reeves, Disability Rights Campaigner

Want to start gaming but can’t get the controllers to work for you? Need to adjust the settings because you can’t hit X 20 times per second? Simon will present a where to get started guide with pointers to hardware, games and organisations which can be of assistance.

AT Shorts

Earswitch – Hands free, silent and invisible control, Nick Gompertz, Earswitch

Nick has created a revolutionary access switch which reacts to movement of a middle ear muscle (tensor tympani – the rumble when you tightly close your eyes). This Earswitch provides widespread benefit providing a hands-free, silent and invisible control for devices, in something we already wear: earphones or hearing aids.

“Give me a Minute” and “Handshake”, Matt Oppenheim

Matt has used the BBC Microbit to create 2 tools for people with high access needs. “Give Me a Minute” shows when someone is composing a message on high-tech AAC. “Handshake” can be used as a contactless switch input via an arm movement.

The Nuvoic project – non-standard speech recognition for communication & smart home control, Liz Howarth, Karten Network

The Nuvoic project is a collaboration between specialist speech recognition developers Voiceitt and the Karten Network of accessible technology centres, with the aim of improving access to speech recognition for people with non-standard or dysarthric speech. The Karten Network is leading on user involvement in the UK and this clip presents opportunities for people with impaired speech who are unable to use mainstream voice recognition, and organisations who support them, to get involved in development and testing of the Voiceitt app for communication support and smart home control.

5 AT solutions in 5 minutes, Max Bianconi, Jewish Care

Max presents 5 short case short case studies of AT solutions which have benefitted individuals supported by Jewish Care. A mixture of ‘baked-in’ accessibility tools and 3rd party software and hardware are recommended to the people Jewish Care support to ensure their access need are met.

The Assistive Technologist’s Role in the Special Education Classroom, Chris Norrie, Dundee University

The presence of an Assistive Technologist has been proposed as a way of helping educators and learners to get the most out of the available assistive and pedagogical technologies in the classroom. This presentation reports the outcomes of an immersive, longitudinal study to understand the role of an AT and their unique potential contribution.

Chrome Text to Speech: Promoting Independent Learning, Sean Connolly, Cedar Foundation

‘Read Aloud’ is a free extension to the Google Chrome web browser. Computer users who experience difficulties reading online content have been accessing training materials via Read Aloud. For one young man supported by Cedar Foundation this meant he could access an accreditation he was previously unable to achieve.

Supporting AT in practice, Richard Bright, Newbridge Group

Newbridge have implemented a delivery strategy featuring video setup and usage guides to ensure support staff can support AT solutions consistently. Richard outlines the pathway established for learners who use AT.

Video Conferencing with a Sight Impairment: a conversation, Jo Healy, Vision North Somerset

In this online conversation Jo and some of her sight impaired colleagues discuss the advantages of video conferencing and the challenges it can present. They also share some tips and tricks to get the best out of meeting online. A presentation to raise your awareness of the practical implications where sight loss and technology meet.

The DfE EdTech Demonstrator Schools and Colleges Programme, Erica Smith, Highfurlong School

Discover how the EdTech Demonstrator Programme can help your college overcome some of the challenges we face in the new era of remote learning. Learn how you can request support from a Demonstrator School and how to access the free training and resources they offer.

Cognitive Support for Autism & Learning Disabilities in Education, Abilia

Times of extreme upheaval and change can provide significant challenges in everyday life – hear how HandiCalendar is supporting people with Autism & Learning Disabilities & their families / care network to manage anxieties and risks.

ClaroRead and Claro Apps, Claro Software

Claro Software develops technology for people with print and reading difficulties like dyslexia. Find out how ClaroRead and Claro apps can assist with reading, writing and studying.

Introduction to Global tasks, LexAble

Global Tasks is the task management solution that reduces stress and helps you stay on top of your work. Neil Cottrell will show you how you can see all your projects visually organised in one place, at a glance. Zoom in and out to see the right level of detail.  How you can improve your focus by temporarily hiding tasks you don’t need to see. They’ll be remembered for you and reappear at the time you set. And show you how you can check your tasks anywhere on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. All of your tasks stay magically in sync across all devices.

Skoog – Making music easy

How Skoog (a Bluetooth accessory for iPad) can enable students of all abilities to enjoy the benefits of making music. The Session will include examples of how to use this technology for a range of Mutli-sensory learning opportunities and a review of available class materials.

Glean by Sonocent

Solving the notetaker’s dilemma for students with disabilities.

Inspiration 10: Helping users with SpLDs to comprehend, create and communicate knowledge successfully, Inspiration

Find out in this presentation how our visual learning approach makes it easy for users to;

  • visually break down a concept or process;
  • create notes;
  • capture knowledge from research;
  • write; and
  • to support revision.

Introducing Boardmaker 7, Tobii Dynavox

A much-anticipated update to a much loved SEN software title. This session will highlight all the new symbols and features Boardmaker 7 introduces including ready made differentiated curriculum, a huge bank of print and interactive templates and the ability to support learners while tracking their progress from a distance.

Presenters

Carol AllenCarol Allen

Carol is an education advisor for ICT and Inclusion, currently offering specialised support to Local Authorities; schools; parents and carers and a wide range of educators across the world. She has taught since 1980 in both mainstream schools – primary and high, and schools for students with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. Recognising, as an English specialist, that communication lies at the heart of all effective teaching, the majority of her work has centred on creative and engaging use of technology to support communication in its widest sense. Carol works in partnership with many companies in the educational technology field as she holds a strong belief in sharing and collaboration across all participants in order to maximise the potential opportunities for her students. All work centres on easy to replicate practice which is fun, achievable and creates communication enhancement opportunities.

 

Carrie SantCarrie Sant

Carrie is the Active Support & Assistive Technology Lead at FitzRoy, a national charity supporting adults with learning disabilities and autism. Carrie has worked with FitzRoy for just over 18 months. During this time her role has developed to encompass a range of aspects of assistive technology including communication aids, environmental controls, daily living aids, telecare and innovative technology such as virtual reality headsets. Fitzroy aims to use assistive technology to enable the people they support to be more independent, safe and have greater choice and control.

 

 

 

Chris NorrieChris Norrie

Chris is a postgraduate research student with the AAC Research Group at the University of Dundee, undertaking a PhD in Computing. Currently he is researching support for early intervention in the field of augmentative and alternative communication. More broadly, his research interests include Human-computer interaction, online accessibility and technology-assisted communication, particularly in the context of personal narrative elicitation in support of individuals with complex communication needs.

 

 

 

Clive GilbertClive Gilbert

Clive is Policy Manager for Assistive Technology at Policy Connect, a cross-party think tank that coordinates the activities of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT). In addition to his role at Policy Connect, Clive is the author of the dispATches newsletter – a monthly ebulletin reporting the latest developments from the world of assistive technology. A lifelong user of assistive technology, Clive has extensive experience advising policymakers and front-line service providers on how to support and empower disabled and older people.

 

 

 

Craig Brown

Craig is the Assistive Technologist for Hereward College, a specialist college in Coventry. Previously he worked as part of the Beaumont College Assistive Technology team, and before this he was a support worker in a variety of settings including private homes, residential homes, education and even an outdoor centre. Craig is passionate about empowering people to be in control of their lives. Whether that be through communication, education, environmental control or all of these. He has supported people with a wide variety of abilities requiring an adaptive, problem solving attitude whilst ensuring the individual is at the centre of every decision. Currently Craig is overseeing the implementation of Assistive Technology throughout Hereward College and developing assessment, staff knowledge, trials, equipment provision along with education and training for staff and students; building upon his diverse knowledge base collected over many years.

Erica SmithErica Smith

Erica is the Communication Team Co-ordinator for Blackpool Council Advisory Teaching Team. She has 18 years experience at Highfurlong Special School which has recently been appointed one of the DfE Demonstrator Schools for Technology.  Erica is the school lead on the project which was established to is disseminate good practice in educational technology use to other schools and colleges. Erica is passionate about giving people a voice and is determined to use technology to remove barriers to achievement.

 

 

 

Fil McIntyreFil McIntyre

Fil is passionate about the advantages the right technology can give to enhance life, communication and learning. He has provided training in assistive technology hardware and software to a wide range of professionals from schools, colleges, universities, charities and healthcare. In addition to his work with TechAbility, Fil is the Lead Assistive Technologist at Beaumont College in Lancaster where he manages a team which assesses and supports students so they gain maximum advantage from technology. Prior to Beaumont College, as part of The BRITE Initiative, Fil delivered Assistive Technology training and support to every college in Scotland.

 

 

Jo Healy

Jo Healy has more than 5 years’ experience as a Karten IT Volunteer with Vision North Somerset, helping blind and partially-sighted people to understand and use smart phones, tablets, and computers. Jo normally offers digital support to people in their own homes, but recently has been providing support remotely.

 

Liz HowarthLiz Howarth

Liz joined the Karten Network in June 2020 as Project Co-ordinator for the Nuvoic project, which aims to improve access to voice-recognition technologies for people who have dysarthric or non-standard speech. Previously, Liz has worked as a health researcher at the University of Manchester, and in learning and communication support and assistive technology roles at Beaumont specialist college in Lancaster, working to improve learners’ access to education, entertainment, social networking and environmental controls through customised interfaces for portable devices.

 

 

 

Matt Oppenheim

Matt re-purposes off the shelf hardware to create enabling technology. He is an Honorary Researcher at InfoLab21, Lancaster University where I work on the enabling technology projects. Many of my projects come from Beaumont College, Lancaster which has about 100 students with a variety of disabilities. In Matt’s parallel career he spends about half of the year working as a Geophysicist on marine seismic survey ships.

 

Neil BeckNeil Beck

Neil works in both specialist and mainstream education with both adults and children. He enjoys the challenges it brings, the difference the work makes and the fantastic work he observes every day. Through assessments, training and helping organisations directly he is aiming to widen his impact and work towards raising the standards of technology across the board. Alongside supporting students at National Star College, he also develops and delivers the college’s outreach program. He’s currently coordinating testing for exciting new technologies and works on several European projects.

 

 

Nick Gompertz

Nick has over 20 years experience as a GP, and prior to that in hospitals, and a hospice. Having experience in Oncology and Palliative Care and General Practice, he witnessed people having difficulty communicating. A BBC documentary in 2018 rekindled his interest in using a little known ear muscle to help people communicate; Nick successfully developed the Earswitch prototype in 2018, and is looking at ways that this can help people, and also its application as a interface to control everyone’s technology.

 

Richard HirstwoodRichard Hirstwood

Richard is the founder of & lead consultant for Hirstwood Training. He is passionate about enabling educators/practitioners to maximise the impact of delivering sensory learning opportunities, in a sensory room or other learning environment, with the resources available to them. He has developed innovative ways of delivering key skills and competences via face to face training; coaching sessions; and hands on work with teachers & teaching assistants; as well as creating bespoke portfolios of training videos for more than a hundred individual schools & settings. Richard’s extensive experience is based on practical knowledge, giving him insight into what works and what doesn’t in multi sensory practice. Regular sessions with children and adults with autism and all additional needs in a variety of multi sensory and classroom settings enable him to maintain this level of excellent practice.

 

Sean ConnollySean Connolly

Sean has been with the Cedar Foundation as a Training Officer for 8 years delivering training to groups and on a 1 to 1 basis as required, supporting participants to gain digital employability skills- obtaining accredited qualifications in the process. Training is delivered in the Karten Centre and out in the community using Karten funded equipment. Inclusion Works supports adults with disabilities to build employability skills and experience to be work ready, then move into a paid job, college course or volunteering on leaving. Inclusion Works is person-centred, encouraging and supporting individuals to design their own programmes around their needs and aspirations, building confidence and independence.