TechAbility Conference 2022
TechAbility 2022 sees us back with a face-to-face conference; essential CPD for anyone working in the field of Assistive Technology. You will have opportunities to hear a range of excellent speakers – all sharing their practice in this area and enabling you to do the same.
The conference takes place on Wednesday 16 November at Conference Aston, Birmingham. An easy to reach venue with excellent facilities.
After our 2021 conference 97% of delegates said they were “Very Likely” or “Likely” to apply learning from the conference in their work.
92% of delegates at TechAbility 2021 rated the conference as “Excellent” or “Very Good”
The theme of this year’s TechAbility Conference is ‘Assistive Technology – everyone’s responsibility’. This theme emphasises how assistive technology must be integrated well, and supported by all staff, to be successful. Presentations will highlight how this has been promoted and achieved in organisations through practice or research. We hope you agree it is a really exciting line-up and there are a few sessions yet to be announced.
Alongside the presentations, AT suppliers will be exhibiting to give you an opportunity to discuss their products directly with them.
Bookings for this event are now closed. Please get in touch with email@example.com if you are still interested in attending as there may be places available.
On this page
Keynote speaker – Zoë Clarke
Assistive Technology – everyone’s responsibility
Zoë has a wealth of in-depth experience from her 20 years work within Electronic Assistive Technology (EAT) in the NHS. She will not only inspire you, but also give you practical take-aways to further develop your Assistive Technology provision.
Zoë will discuss how simply having a good piece of technology, although useful, is not the only component of success. Even before assessment for technology a teacher, carer or family member needs to think about the potential of technology and the benefits it could have. At the assessment stage again everyone plays a part, the person being assessed, an assessor with relevant skills, family members and staff who know the person. Without the motivation of the person success will be limited, without the information and commitment from carers or family success will be limited and without a skilled assessor success will be limited. The work doesn’t end there, ongoing the person themselves and the people supporting them need to facilitate technology use. Ensuring equipment is set up appropriately and that it does what the person wants are essential to success and involve everyone. Zoë will also highlight the importance of the ongoing support and the responsibility of others in that. This includes a robust system of maintenance for equipment and a route for reassessment or updating as the person requires, potentially as they get older or as their condition changes. Zoë will also highlight that even though everyone does not need technology, there is great importance in everyone having the opportunities to explore technology use.
Join us to learn from Zoë’s extensive knowledge and experience in the field of Assistive Technology, challenge your current thinking and develop your practice.
Workshops and presentations
What conditions have to be in place to ensure that outcomes with technology are positive?
Julie Eshleman, University of Stirling
Following on from her memorable keynote at TechAbility 2021, Julie will present her PhD research on how disabled people in care settings use technology to build the lives and experiences they want. She will set out the guiding principles of what works, for whom, under what conditions, and why. For organisations to use these ‘key ingredients’ they must invest in to create organisational values, beliefs, and actions which will make positive assistive technology outcomes more likely to be achieved.
Julie’s research and theories have been driven by disabled technology users as key contributors. Attendee participation and feedback from her keynote address in 2021 have have fed directly into the research.
Young people’s use of digital mental health tools
Kellie Mote, Jisc
There have never been more digital mental health tools, from apps to online services, and we know there is a critical need for mental health support among young people. So why do so few use digital mental health interventions? Are we overlooking young people’s feelings towards using technology to support mental health? Kellie will share her findings about the important role technology acceptance and trust play in young people’s attitudes towards usage. Delegates will have opportunities to reflect on assumptions about digital mental health interventions, and to share their observations and experiences.
Kellie will be referencing her research: Vilas Sawrikar, Kellie Mote, Technology acceptance and trust: Overlooked considerations in young people’s use of digital mental health interventions, Health Policy and Technology, Volume 11, Issue 4, 2022
Hearing Assistive Technology
Andy McMahon, National Deaf Children’s Society
National Deaf Children’s Society supports young people up to 24 years old and their families, support workers and professionals who work with children and young adults who are deaf or have hearing loss. Andy will show the steps individuals and organisations can take to use technology which will support access for deafness. The presentation will explore solutions and support available for young adults’ careers and also show how colleges, societies, clubs and commercial entities can enable access to facilities and services.
NDCS fight to improve the services received by deaf children and young people. They champion the development of good language and communication skills and shine a spotlight on the importance of being independent and the transition into adulthood.
Project Moto: making the most of mobile technologies
Libby Wilkins, The Oaks College
The Oaks have a focus on how, using in-built accessibility features on mobile phones, we can shift the focus to assistive technology for living rather than simply accessing college curricula. This aims to take away the mystery of accessibility features to empower staff and learners to take responsibility for their interactions within the world.
This presentation will show real world examples of in-built assistive technology within College and the community; emphasising the importance of learners retaining access to any tech when they have left College to decrease assistive technology abandonment. It will also spotlight the transformation of Speech and Language Therapy services using Flipgrid to give learners autonomy over their progress.
Interactive iPad activities -a multidisciplinary approach
Jodie Tatlow, Treloar’s College
Treloar’s College have increased the active and independent use of iPads by learners’ on the Sensory and Interactive curriculum. A group consisting of Assistive Technologists, Occupational Therapists and a Speech and Language Therapist was formed to look at meaningful activities and how students could access these, especially for those who use access switches.
Jodie will demonstrate using Switch Recipes as a way of unlocking many apps and web programmes for learners who cannot use direct access. A training and support programme has been established so that the activities can be implemented by teaching and learning support staff.
Making gaming accessible
Tom Dore, British Esports
Great advances have been made in making gaming accessible to more people through physical adaptations such as the XBox Adaptive Controller and software adjustments within games. Giving people access to these adaptations can level the game playing field and enable inclusion in competitions. Tom will outline how these adaptations can make a difference and introduce the Specialist Colleges Esports Cup which has run in parallel for the last two years with the Association of Colleges Student Champs competition.
Tom will show how each adaptive equipment setup is unique, and provides opportunity for the user to be involved in gaming where they may have not been able to before. This levels the playing field and provides opportunities that may have been closed off to people previously.
Cutting edge research in Assistive Technology
Will Wade, Ace Centre
The team at Ace Centre loves nothing more than an unusual access problem to try and solve. This presentation will show how Will and the team develop innovative solutions such as:
- Pasco – an AAC app to support people who require auditory scanning only
- The Morse code typing trainer
- EyeCommander – use your blink as a switch input
- GridWiz – a simple app to make a custom Grid 3 Gridset with images from Google
Also presented will be a first look at one or two projects in the pipeline – for which your feedback will be welcomed.
Accessibility of Virtual and Augmented Reality
Dr. Chris Creed, Birmingham City University
Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) holds significant potential to transform how we work, learn, and engage with others. However, there has been a lack of work exploring the challenges associated with these technologies for disabled people. In particular, it is unclear the extent to which significant future uptake of this technology across the wider population could have a negative impact and further exacerbate the digital divide.
As such, there is an urgent need to understand the potential of these technologies to both support disabled people, but also to investigate the wider implications around the proliferation of AR and VR. Chris will describe how researchers at BCU are investigating the opportunities around AR/VR to support disabled people, such as those across the spectrum of visual, physical, auditory, and cognitive impairments.
Delivering SmartHome solutions
Portland College will present an overview of the implementation of their SMARTHome facility. This uses voice activation such as Alexa, Google and Bixby to aid independence, communication and wellbeing. Learners can control a wide range of devices from lighting through to washing machines, vacuum cleaners and fridges.
Partnership working, through an Multi Disciplinary Team approach was integral to the success of this project and included input from IT services, Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Education, Care, Estates, Finance. This approach demonstrates how partnership working within college and externally, has ensured that learners have the opportunity to meet their independence, communication and wellbeing outcomes.
Voiceitt at Hill House – a real-world story of collaborative co-design
Leonard Cheshire have been supporting two participants on the Nuvoic project, which aims to improve speech recognition for people with atypical speech. Liz and Dave will demonstrate how the participants and their multidisciplinary support team have worked together with the Nuvoic project team and with app developers Voiceitt over a period of 18 months. The participants tested Voiceitt’s speech recognition app and shared their feedback. This has resulted in numerous improvements to the app’s interface and functionality.
As a result of joint working, access to the app and functionality now being implemented across various settings in Leonard Cheshire, involving staff from multiple teams.
Two years of delivering the EduAT Masters: what have we learned about AT in the UK?
Rohan Slaughter, University of Dundee
The Masters course in Educational Assistive Technology has now been running for (almost) two years. The course was developed to address a global need for the professionalisation of the Assistive Technologist role within all levels of education provision and designed to equip students with skills, knowledge and working methodologies.
Rohan is senior lecturer on the Masters course and will present an informed look at how interacting with course participants has given him and his colleagues an overview of how AT is implemented and provisioned in the UK. His findings will enable lessons to be learned for your organisation on how to improve practice and provision, and what mistakes to avoid. Rohan will also include a brief overview of the MSc EduAT that will be useful for anyone who is considering applying for the next intake (January 2023) or future intakes.
We are excited to feature such a wide range of accessible technologies and services at TechAbility 2022. There will be opportunities throughout the day to talk directly to the suppliers and get hands-on with their products.
Adobe are a software company well known for their Creative Cloud and Document Cloud products. We aim to focus on PDF accessibility with Acrobat and the PDF Accessibility API.
Brain in Hand
Brain in Hand is a digital healthcare company and an innovation leader in supported self-management. They work with the NHS, Local Authorities and are available through Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) and are approved by the Department for Work and Pensions (Access to Work).
At the heart of the business is a revolutionary approach to support student services, improving the lives of autistic people and those with neurological difference or anxiety-related mental health difficulties. Using a combination of human and simple practical digital tools, it delivers in the moment support when it is needed. Having the right support at university can help prevent student attrition and increase student retention.
Clevertouch advanced Audio-Visual solutions help lecturers and teaching professionals to deliver educational excellence. Our immersive learning technology transforms a lesson into an adventure, teaching into an experience, and information into tangible journeys that students can engage with and understand. Digital, interactive classrooms are the lecture theatres of the future, and Clevertouch is proud to be at the forefront of this movement.
Glean is the antidote to information overload for improved learning, productivity, and student success. Our inclusive learning technology empowers students of all abilities to take meaningful audio notes with a proven note taking process. Our technology doesn’t take notes for you, instead it scaffolds how you learn from information, so you build effective note taking skills.
Designed for colleges and universities, Glean for Education facilitates learning across campus with a suite of note taking tools that build 21st century skills and streamline student support. The Glean Team’s note taking specialists work with educators and students alike to unleash learning potential.
Inspiration 10 – (TechEdology)
Inspiration 10 is used to create a variety of visual diagrams, maps, outlines, presentations and more.
Combining visual cues, such as images and colour, with verbal cues, such as keywords and audio notes, the software allows users to create highly customisable documents that help with creativity, productivity, and knowledge retention.
This is particularly effective for users with neuro-differences, mental health challenges and disabilities that affect their cognition and executive functions, where Inspiration 10 often becomes a lifelong tool they depend on, in education, the workplace and personally.
Karten Network – Nuvoic Project
The Karten Network is a network of specialist technology centres for disabled people.
As a partner in the Nuvoic Project we’re supporting the development of accessible speech recognition with partners Voiceitt. We support people with atypical speech to test and give feedback on the Voiceitt app, and we’re looking for people to contribute voice recordings to support development of the next generation of inclusive speech technology.
Please come to our presentation or visit our stand to find out more!
At Liberator our high-tech communication aids support a wide range of language solutions including Unity, easyChat, The Grid, WordPower and text-based systems, are highly flexible, easy to program and backed by unrivalled warranty and support packages.
In addition to offering a comprehensive range of communication aids, adapted toys, learning and inclusion aids, switches, computer access, software and accessories, we feel we provide the best support within the industry.
Livescribe / Douglas Stewart
Livescribe is the global leader in the design and manufacturing of smartpens. The Livescribe smartpen captures everything you hear, write and draw – so you can be confident that you’ll never miss a word. No matter your learning style, a smartpen lets you capture words, scribbles and diagrams and syncs everything to what is said.
With Livescribe it’s never been easier to take notes and stay organised.
National Deaf Children’s Society
We’re here for deaf children and young people (up to 25 years old), their families and the professionals who support them. A range of equipment and information will be available along with staff to answer questions.
Orcam UK Ltd.
OrCam Learn – A Revolutionary Solution to Learning.
Words connect us with ideas, information, even dreams for our futures. But when learning and reading is difficult, it can even prevent students from realising opportunities. We are driven to help empower those with learning challenges to unlock their full potential.
That’s why we’ve developed OrCam Learn – a truly interactive, AI-enabled solution to learning that partners with each student as they read, learn and grow, in confidence and ability.
Rahana Life are experts in the field of assessment, specification and provision of assistive technology to support people with upper limb impairment, primarily muscle weakness. Our solutions are designed to empower people to do more independently, and we will be showcasing Ability Drive (eye gaze wheelchair driving), Armon mobile arm supports , the Obi dining companion and the Jaco robotic arm.
Sensory Guru offer a range of accessible learning solutions designed to enhance engagement and participation. The SG team will be providing demos of their latest learning platform, Magic Room, which allows educators to deliver inspiring and interactive learning with baked-in support for a wide range of access and communication tools. There will also be opportunities to explore Sensory Guru’s eye tracking software and experience how systems like Magic Carpet and Magic Mirror can be used in group settings with users of different abilities and access needs.
Scanning Pens Ltd is the global distributor for the C-Pen. As a leading Assistive Technology supplier, we combine our expert knowledge with years of experience in the dyslexia field to develop solutions for many educational institutions helping students with reading difficulties such as dyslexia, visual impairment, physical disabilities and much more.
The ReaderPen and ExamReader by C-Pen is the perfect solution for reading difficulties in the classroom and outside of it. The pens enhance the learning experience for many children who struggle to get the most of their education because of the barriers they face from their disability.
Sight and Sound Technology
With over 40 years’ experience in the market, Sight and Sound Technology are the UK’s leading provider of hardware and software to the blind, visually impaired and those with learning and reading difficulties, our products can improve your quality of life at work, at study or at home.
They will be showcasing:
- Envision glasses, the latest in wearable technology that identifies and converts text to speech, provides navigational help and identifying objects, whilst offering video links to call professional helpers.
- Other electronic magnifiers / software for visually impaired or blind users
- Software for those with reading or learning difficulties
Thriiver is a leading supplier of assistive technology, training and technical support in the UK. They have also developed AccessAngel, a website accessibility toolbar bringing advanced accessibility features to any website.
As the world leader in eye tracking and AAC, Tobii Dynavox provides innovative speech-generating devices, special education and literacy solutions and alternative computer access methods. Our vision is a world where everyone, regardless of physical or cognitive ability, has a voice of their own.
|09:30 – 10:00
|10:00 – 10:25
|Introduction to the day including practical arrangements & exhibitor introductions
|10:30 – 11:10
|Breakout 1: Voiceitt at Hill House – a real-world story of collaborative co-design – Dave Hursthouse, Liz Howarth
Breakout 2: Two years of delivering the EduAT Masters: what have we learned about AT in the UK? – Rohan Slaughter
Breakout 3: Young people’s use of digital mental health tools – Kellie Mote
|11:10 – 11:45
|Break / Exhibition
|11:50 – 12:30
|Breakout 1: Interactive iPad activities – a multidisciplinary approach – Jodie Tatlow
Breakout 2: Cutting edge research in Assistive Technology – Will Wade
Breakout 3: Project Moto: making the most of mobile technologies – Libby Wilkins
|12:35 – 13:15
|Breakout 1: Accessibility of Virtual and Augmented Reality – Dr Chris Creed
Breakout 2: Making gaming accessible – Tom Dore
Breakout 3: Hearing Assistive Technology – Andy McMahon
|13:15 – 14:15
Exhibition and networking
|14:15 – 15:00
|Keynote Speech: Assistive Technology, everyone’s responsibility – Zoë Clarke
|15:05 – 15:45
|Breakout 1: What conditions have to be in place to ensure that outcomes with technology are positive? – Julie Eshleman
Breakout 2: Delivering SmartHome solutions – Rebecca Cooper and Trevor Edwards
|15:45 – 16:00
These costs cover your attendance at workshops and the exhibition, an excellent buffet lunch and refreshments all day.
- £100 +vat for full Natspec member / Karten organisations
- £125 +vat for Natspec Transform member organisations
- £150 +vat for non-member organisations
Zoë has two roles within Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: Environmental Control Service of the Assistive Technology Team; and Lead Healthcare Scientist.
Zoë leads the Environmental Control (EC) service of the Barnsley Assistive Technology Team, which delivers specialised services across the Yorkshire and Humber region. In this role Zoë manages a team of clinicians, plans service provision, manages contractors and plans future strategy of EC within Yorkshire and the Humber. Key elements of this include managing contractor performance and continuously evaluating the balance between in-house and contractor delivery of the installation element of the service; to ensure it makes best use of its budget. Zoë also represents EC nationally on the Rehabilitation and Disability Clinical Reference Group.
As Lead Healthcare Scientist Zoë represents Healthcare Scientists within the Trust and links directly with the Medical Director. The role was designed to provide representation of Healthcare Science at Trust level; and also to enable contributions from Healthcare Scientists into other work within the Trust, such as R&D and Innovation.
Zoë is extremely passionate about Electronic Assistive Technology but also the importance of it being appropriately developed and provided, in order to fit the needs of the person. Zoë has a specific interest in the use of Electronic Assistive Technology with people with learning disabilities.
Julie has degrees in education and behaviour analysis, with a postgraduate certificate in organisational business psychology. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Stirling, with a research focus on how disabled people use technology to build the lives they want. Julie has worked as a teacher, trainer, clinical behaviour analyst, organisational behaviour consultant, and disabled technology user experience researcher for over 16 years. Her current focus is on building cultures and environments where disabled tech users can build lives they love. Please follow Julie on Twitter at @JulieEshlemanAT and use the hashtag #ATforliving for updates on her research!
Rohan has been working to support technology in the education sector for more than 20 years. Rohan has an IT, assistive technology, and education management background. Between 2015 and 2020 Rohan worked for Jisc, the EdTech not-for-profit that provides support to colleges and universities. Rohan was previously employed at Beaumont College as assistant principal and formerly as the head of technology. Rohan is a member of the Natspec technology strategy group and is currently vice chair of the Karten Network board.
Rohan joined the University of Dundee as a senior lecturer in Assistive Technology at the end of 2020. Rohan is working to support the development and delivery of an MSc in Educational Assistive Technology that aims to professionalise the assistive technologist role and to provide professional development pathways for people who wish to support the assessment, provisioning and ongoing support of Assistive Technology.
Dr Chris Creed
Chris is an Associate Professor in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at Birmingham City University where he leads the HCI Research Group. His core research interest is around the design and development of assistive technology for disabled people (across a range of impairments). He is currently leading multiple funded research projects focused around accessibility such as exploring the development of inclusive AR/VR experiences (funded by a Meta/Facebook research award), investigating new interface techniques for facilitating creative work via gaze/speech interaction (supported through an Adobe Fund for Design grant), making coding more accessible for people with physical impairments (which has received support from a Google Inclusion Research Award and a Microsoft “AI for Accessibility” grant), and investigating the potential of wearable technology to support young people with special needs within residential care (funded through Innovate UK).
Andy is the Digital Products Lead and Assistive Technology Manager for the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS). With 20 years experience in Assistive Technology & Digital inclusion. A volunteer director for Lead Scotland(Linking Education and Disability), DSA Needs Assessor and previous Chair of the Assistive Technology Higher Education group in Scotland. Andy McMahon completed a Master’s in AAC at the University of Dundee in 2020 and has a personal research interest in alternative formats and digital content accessibility. linkedin.com/in/andyjmcmahon/. Andy has a PBGV dog and can be found walking the Fife coastal paths when not tinkering with technology and home automation.
Libby is Digital Lead at The Oaks Specialist College, where she specialises in designing and implementing digital curricula and assistive technologies to support young adults with learning difficulties and disabilities. Most recently, Libby has been leading the College within the Microsoft Showcase Schools Incubator Program. Libby brings a holistic approach to designing lessons and activities that give her learners an opportunity to practice life skills in a safe setting, enabling them to grow towards living independently and gaining employment.
Libby recognises the critical role technology plays in our day-to-day lives. Her passion is ensuring her learners are empowered by technology, making use of accessibility features to level the playing field within a community context; reducing assistive technology
Becky is Curriculum Manger at Portland College. She has been working with disabled people for the last 20 years in a variety of positions across mainstream and specialist provisions and services. From her own interest and use of technology in teaching, it became a priority of college to ensure learners had the opportunity and experiences of using technology to break down barriers to their learning and preparation for adult life.
Becky has led on projects to develop and embed digital skills and assistive technology within college, the community and transitioning on.
Trevor started his IT career over 30 years ago as a field service engineer at a small engineering company. Since then he has worked in IT retail, second line support, helpdesk management and then infrastructure and IT project management for key corporate businesses.
After working for businesses, Trevor felt he needed to actually see and feel the benefit from the work he does! He is now passionate about ICT and how it can help in special needs education. Trevor is a firm believer that the days of ICT saying “No” are gone. His key drivers are to make ICT accessible and flexible, but balanced tightly with safety and security.
Will has worked at Ace Centre for the past 6 years and has an interest in specialist access solutions as well as research and development. Prior to Ace Centre, he worked as an Occupational Therapist in a number of settings; Oxford Brookes University looking at children with neuro-motor difficulties and their sitting balance playing computer games, the Kent CAT team, Wheelchair services and Paediatrics. Will’s role at Ace Centre currently includes being part of the assessment and training team as well as leading on the marketing and information resources.
Liz works with the Karten Network, leading on user involvement in the Nuvoic Project to improve access to voice-recognition technologies for people with dysarthric or atypical speech. Working with partner organisations and directly with participants, we support people to test the Voiceitt app and influence its ongoing development through their views, experiences, and ideas. Previously, Liz has worked as a health researcher at the University of Manchester, and as an assistive technologist at Beaumont specialist college in Lancaster, working to improve learners’ access to education, entertainment, social networking and environmental controls.
Dave has been leading an Assistive technology ‘centre of excellence’ project for Leonard Cheshire over the past three years. Based at a pan-disability nursing and care home in Cheshire and leading a small team to develop person-centred assessment processes, implementing a range of established and emerging Assistive Technologies, ensuring their smooth adoption and sustainability and developing processes and structures to roll out across the wider Leonard Cheshire estate and the communities they work in. Prior to this Dave has had held a number of Senior Management and Exec level positions in Technology, Business Transformation and Cultural Change.
Tom is the Head of Education for the British Esports Association, the UK’s not for profit, national body for esports. The British Esports Association works to support, promote and raise awareness of esports in the UK and focuses on young people and grassroots (amateur) esports. They run the British Esports Championships for schools and colleges which involves representative teams playing weekly online fixtures against each other exactly like traditional sports. They work to demonstrate how team based esports supports the development of character skills and how it links to computer science, STEAM subjects and the development of digital skills and digital literacy. Tom is also still a part time Science teacher, having taught for 15 years across a full range of state, independent and alternative provision schools. He was also the lead writer of the recently published, ground breaking Level 3 BTEC Nationals in Esports.
Kellie is Subject specialist: strategy (accessibility) for Jisc and has an MSc in Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Psychological Practice. At Jisc, Kellie develops and leads on projects focused on accessibility, assistive technology, and inclusive practice in UK further and higher education and research. Her experience prior to joining Jisc includes implementing inclusiveness through the application of technology in varied contexts within schools, further, and higher education.
With colleagues, Kellie facilitates Jisc’s lively and supportive accessibility and assistive technology communities. In addition to providing advice and guidance, she delivers direct consultancy and training, including strategically focused visioning workshops which help education providers to create bespoke roadmaps towards accessibility. Kellie also represents Jisc on relevant policy engagements, e.g. at the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology. Find her on LinkedIn or on Twitter as @KellieMote.
Jodie is a Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist at Treloar’s School and College where she has worked for 3 years. It is here that Jodie works with students and young adults with a range of sensory and physical needs. Jodie works within the sensory pathway supporting students to develop their communication and interaction skills through a wide range of sensory activities. Previous to that Jodie worked as an SLT in a similar setting for 6 years. Her interests are AAC, MDT and trans-disciplinary working as well as adapting and modifying input to meet the individual needs of all.