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Disability, Accessibility and Enabling Technologies

Speakers: Lawrence Howard, Paul Doyle and Katherine Wimpenny

Location: The Grass


About the session

For this Disruptive Bytes the theme will be Disability, Accessibility and Enabling Technologies. This session will explore lessons learnt and existing practices of Hereward College, HandsFree Computing and the Swing project with respect to supporting and enabling people with disability using technologies, and facilitating discussions around the issues of accessibility in teaching and learning. This domain is very important in terms of supporting our understanding of disabilities and accessibilities, which will inform existing work in the area.

Lawrence Howard of HandsFree Computing will discuss the use of speech recognition software such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking to help assist people with disabilities.  As well as demonstrating the software and its capabilities. Lawrence will also explain how it helps people in the workplace, whether dyslexic or with physical disabilities, and how it can be used as a preventative measure against conditions such as RSI (repetitive strain injury).

Paul was involved with a project focusing on AT design using 3D Printing in an attempt to engage disabled students at Hereward College in STEM subjects. The project was undertaken in conjunction with the University of Warwick. During the project partners learned many valuable lessons regarding how students were able to articulate what they did not like about their existing AT. However, when they were asked what they would do to make it better, many students did not have the capacity to articulate their needs effectively. This talk is about using 3D printing as a means to engage the user in the design of personalised AT.

About the hosts

Lawrence is a results driven person whose main objective is to improve peoples lives. This he achieves through his business ‘Hands Free Computing Ltd’, whose primary purpose is to provide assistive technology, training and coaching to help people overcome their disabilities in the workplace or while in education. Additionally, his charity activities include working with Alive & Well, which helps provide clean drinking water to remote parts of Sierra Leone and his voice over work with Talking Newspapers (part of the RNIB), who provide spoken versions of many daily newspapers, magazines and journals to help visually impaired people access the content.

Paul has been engaged in the field of Assistive Technology since 1995 in a variety of operational and strategic roles and manages the Access Centre at Hereward College. Since 2005 Paul has been providing Expert Witness reports specifically in the field of complex and integrated Assisitve Technologies for paediatric and adult clients.
Paul also leads a team of researchers undertaking projects in and around the field of assistive technology, with objectives as diverse as capturing the user experience of innovations in AT, to workforce development projects to support the assessment and installation of telehealth and telecare based assistive technologies.

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