[CEUD-ICT] FW: E-Access Bulletin, March 2013: Smartphone for older people; Neil Cottrell interview.

Gerry Ellis gerry.ellis at feelthebenefit.com
Fri Mar 29 18:46:06 GMT 2013


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Gerry Ellis

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-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Jellinek [mailto:dan at headstar.com] 
Sent: 29 March 2013 14:52
To: eaccess at headstar.com
Subject: E-Access Bulletin, March 2013: Smartphone for older people; Neil Cottrell interview.

Access To Technology For All, Regardless Of Ability
- ISSUE 156, March 2013.

A Headstar Publication.
http://www.headstar.com/eab/ .
In Association With Go ON Gold:
http://www.go-on-gold.co.uk/ .

Please forward this free bulletin to others
So they can subscribe directly, at no cost.
(subscription details at the end).

++Issue 156 Contents.

01: Tech Giant Launches Smartphone For Older People
- Audio and touch screen features enhance usability.

02: UK Government Funding For Assistive App “Georgie”
- Free user training for 200 visually impaired people.

03: Web Content Accessibility Checker Pitched At Wider
- Switch to JavaScript hoped to open up QUAIL content

News in Brief: 04: Partner Power – national Go ON Gold
campaign increases its reach; 05: Tech4Good Returns –
accessible internet nominations; 06: Social Awards – request
for projects; Newspaper Problems – news website falls short;
07: Generous Grant – digital accessibility prize.

Section Two: Inbox.
07: Smarter Homes – more ICT in homes doesn’t always mean
more accessibility, warns one analyst.

Section Three – Profile: Neil Cottrell, founder of LexAble.
09: How To Spell Innovation: After encountering barriers in his
university studies due to his dyslexia, Neil Cottrell built his
own autocorrection tool to help him write essays. Several years
later, Cottrell has started his own company and sold thousands
of copies of the spelling tool he developed. He explains how it
all happened to Tristan Parker.

[Contents ends].

++Section One: News.

+01: Tech Giant Launches Smartphone For Older People

A smartphone designed for elderly people has been developed
by global technology company Fujitsu.

When setting up the Stylistic S01 phone the user inputs their
age, which customises some aspects to work differently. For
example, the audio frequency range will be optimised for older
people so they can clearly hear the voice of the person they are
speaking to, and the phone can also slow down the speech of a
caller without losing audio quality, again making it easier to

The Stylistic also features a forgiving touch-screen which
highlights icons if they are only touched lightly. This means
that accidental touches – common by people not familiar with
smartphone controls – will not immediately lead to an
undesired function.

Each sub-screen on the phone also contains a question mark
icon which gives the user
guidance for that page.

“People are living longer, have access to better healthcare and
want to have access to the same communications channels
(email, social media) that their younger family does.” James
Maynard, product marketing director at Fujitsu, told E-Access

The Stylistic S01 phone will be released in France in June. The
cost has not been confirmed, but it will be priced as a “mid-
range handset”, Maynard said. The phone’s release in other
countries is under discussion between Fujitsu and
telecommunications partner Orange.

Fujitsu also recently unveiled another technological innovation
designed to assist elderly people, the ‘New Generation Cane’.
This is a prototype of a walking stick with built-in GPS and
heart-rate monitor, which could send the user’s location and
health data to a cloud network. Data could then be sent back to
the cane to help direct the user. Family members can also
check the heart rate of an elderly relative using the cane via the
cloud, to check that they are not encountering difficulties.
There is currently no indication of if and when the cane might
become a purchasable product, however.

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live:

+02: UK Government Funding For Assistive App “Georgie”

Up to 200 blind and visually impaired people are to be trained
to use a package of smartphone apps that can help with
communication and everyday tasks, with £14,000 of funding
allocated by the UK government.

The training is for an app bundle for Android smartphones
named “Georgie”, developed by husband and wife Roger and
Margaret Wilson-Hinds through their company
Screenreader.net. The apps help blind and visually impaired
people operate smartphones using functions such as voice-
assisted touch-screen operation, and also help people with
daily tasks such as catching public transport, reading printed
text aloud and navigation outdoors (see also our previous
report on the apps – full link:
http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=751 Short link:
http://bit.ly/X8zS7I ).

The free training sessions will be available at 30 locations
across the UK with funding from the Department for Work and
Pensions (DWP) provided to the charity Communication for
Blind People, the parent organisation of Screenreader.net. As
well as funding the trainers’ time, the money will help buy
phones and develop learning resources including Braille and
large print manuals, Tim Carrington, Screenreader.net’s
business development manager, told E-Access Bulletin.

The app training programme is part of a three million pound
government funding project entitled Strengthening Disabled
People’s User Led Organisations, launched in July 2011.

“A training session will enable a hesitant smartphone user to
learn how Georgie can provide them with the confidence to
better venture out into the world”, Carrington told E-Access
Bulletin. “Trainers will provide hands-on use of Georgie to
Blind Association staff who will go on to act as local learning
champions, to support Georgie users and direct them to web
pages and other learning resources once the trainer has left.”

Local maps and data will also be integrated into the sessions,
Carrington said. For example, one of Georgie’s features is a
bus app, and this will use local information to help users find
their nearest bus stop, see bus times and find out when to get
off at the right stop.

Sessions will begin in May, and blind and visually impaired
people can find out more by emailing:
mailto:reply at screenreader.net.

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live:

+03: Web Content Accessibility Checker Pitched At Wider

An updated version of a free web content accessibility
checker, originally developed because its creator was frustrated
at the limitations of similar products, has been launched in
JavaScript to allow wider usage.

QUAIL ( http://quailjs.org/ ) is a piece of software that uses
more than 200 tests to assess if web content conforms to the
widely used Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

Kevin Miller, a web developer at California State University,
Monterey Bay, developed the first version in 2009 after he
found other accessibility checkers that he used in his job too
limited. “I wrote QUAIL out of frustration about what products
were out there at the time,” Miller told E-Access Bulletin.

Issues for which QUAIL can test include seeing if headers on
web pages are being used correctly; if links to other pages
make sense when read on their own – perhaps by a screen-
reader; and if images have appropriate text to describe them for
someone who cannot see the image. It can be used to provide
accessibility checking for any web page, including learning
management systems, social media sites or content
management systems.

The software is aimed primarily at developers and content
authors. “Ultimately, the goal was to provide instant feedback
to content creators, kind of like spell-check-as-you-type lets
users know they misspelled a word with a red underline,
QUAIL can do the same about images missing a description …
When a document is easier to read for everyone, it’s also a big
win for users with assistive technology” Miller said.

QUAIL has now been converted from PHP (a programming
language commonly used in web developing) to a jQuery
plugin – software that uses the widely used JavaScript
programming language – to open it up to more users. “I really
wanted this to be a project that could be embraced regardless
of what someone was building”, Miller said. “Because
JavaScript is ‘the programming language of the web’, moving
to JavaScript meant a much broader potential audience.”

Speaking about how he would like to develop the software in
the future, Miller said that QUAIL can help make accessibility
testing a more automated and integrated experience, by
registering and testing every change made when a web
application is being built, for example.

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live:

++News in Brief:

+04: Partner Power: Go ON Gold, the national campaign to
raise awareness of the barriers faced by disabled and elderly
people in accessing the internet and digital technologies, has
signed up several new high profile new partners. These include
the Rix Centre; Birmingham-based Castle Vale Community
Housing Association (CVCHA); and the Scottish Disability
Equality Forum. All partners have agreed to helping to raise
awareness of the barriers faced by disabled and elderly people
in accessing technology and the internet. To find out more
about how your organisation can help the campaign, see:

Full link:

Short link:

+05: Tech4Good Returns: The third annual Technology4Good
Awards is now open for nominations. The event, organised by
technology charity AbilityNet, celebrates the power of
computers and the internet to affect positive social change.
Categories include an Accessibility Award, which recognises
the work of an individual or organisation using digital
technology to help people overcome a disability. Nominations
close on May 3:

Full link:

Short link:

+06: Newspaper Problems: Changes made to the website of
daily Australian newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald – to
link in with the printed paper moving to a smaller, tabloid size
format – have created a number of accessibility issues, claims
IT consultant and web accessibility expert Tom Worthington.
Worthington found 29 problems with the site by using the
AChecker tool, which bases its tests on the widely used Web
Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0:

Full link:

Short link:

+07: Generous Grant: US accessibility software company
Deque is offering 10,000 US Dollars to one innovative idea –
with working prototype – that makes the internet more
accessible. International applications are allowed for the
Amaze Digital Accessibility Grant, with the deadline for
submission 1 May:

Full link: http://www.deque.com/amazegrant

Short link:

[Section One ends].

++Section Two: 'The Inbox'
- Readers' Forum.

Please email all contributions or responses to:
inbox at headstar.com .

+08: Smarter Homes: Australian accessibility academic and
consultant Tom Worthington, a regular contributor to the
bulletin (see News in Brief, this issue), writes in to point
readers to a response he has posted on his “Net Traveller” blog
to a story in our last issue on the release of some new Smart
Home Accessibility Guidelines by John Gill Technology (E-
Access Bulletin, February 2013 – Full link:
http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=821 Short link:
http://bit.ly/160aLCL ).

“These recommendations suggest that ICT in the home can
help the elderly and others with disabilities, but only if their
needs are taken into consideration when designing the
interfaces for the smart home”, Tom says. “I suggest that voice
and other hands-free controls would be useful for the
population generally, as well as those with a disability. Also
designers of smart home controls and displays tend to make
them too complex and hard to use, and so an accessible design
would benefit everyone.

“However, I question the value of controls and displays for
smart homes. A truly smart home should anticipate needs and
adjust, without having any explicit input from the occupants
and any need for them to look at displays.

“Smart meters are an example of what is not a ‘smart’
technology. Householders should not have to read the tariff
from a meter and then manually adjust the appliances in their
home: this should happen automatically. Smarter technology
has existed for decades with off-peak electric hot water
systems, which switch on automatically when tariffs are low.
An electronic smart meter should be able to be interfaced to
major energy using appliances, which also monitor the pattern
of use and so can optimise energy saving without bothering the

More can be found at Tom’s blog, below:

Full link:

Short link:

[Comments please to inbox at headstar.com ].

[Section Two ends].

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Section Three: Profile
- Neil Cottrell, Founder, LexAble

+09: How To Spell Innovation
By Tristan Parker

After being diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, Neil Cottrell
used various forms of assistive technology to help him study.
He went on to develop his own autocorrective software, Global
AutoCorrect, forming the company LexAble to develop and
market it. Global AutoCorrect has now sold about 10,000
copies. E-Access Bulletin spoke to Cottrell about how his own
innovations helped him achieve a first-class degree at
university and start his own business.

E-Access Bulletin: How did it all begin?

Neil Cottrell: I was identified as being dyslexic when I was
about 10 or 11-years-old. I was a very bright kid but my
dyslexia was really quite severe, so it meant that I was really
good at some things and really bad at others.

I ended up using lot of technology through school and
university. My Local Education Authority bought me a laptop
with a couple of assistive technology (AT) programs on, which
I used in all of my lessons. My computer would read
everything aloud to me, and I was using it to help organise my
ideas. So I grew up benefiting from technology from a young

Then when I got to 15, I started doing my GCSEs. Once I’d
written something I could read it back with text-to-speech and
spell check and all those things, but where I still had a problem
that the AT wasn’t solving was with the process of writing.

I’d start writing a sentence and get to a word I didn’t know how
to spell, then the red underline would pop up from the spell
check and when that happened, what I’d do – which was a
really bad strategy – was stop mid-sentence and go back and
work out how to spell that word. I’d lose track of the sentence,
because I was constantly switching between the processes of
writing and checking. What I often ended up with were
sentences that were disjointed and didn’t make practical sense.

So I started developing a tool for myself which would
automatically correct my spelling as I was writing. Whether I
was writing in Microsoft Word or doing a PowerPoint
presentation or using Facebook, I could have this tool that
would sit in the background. It really helped because it meant I
wasn’t worrying about how I was spelling a word when I typed,
I could just get my ideas down and not have to go back and
correct things later on.

EAB: How did you learn to build this tool?

NC: Basically using the internet and online tutorials. Initially, I
hadn’t envisaged this being something that thousands of people
would use, it was just a case of, “I’ve got this problem, so it’s
worth investing a few hours to do something that’s going to
make everything a lot easier.” I enjoy writing software and in
order to get it working pretty crudely it was quite quick, but
then I was making a lot of improvements and building it up to
work better. I got really into it and saw the benefits.

EAB: Did the tool help you with your studies at university?

NC: Yes, I had a very basic version I could use and then it was
just adding improvements as I went through school and
university. My degree was an essay-writing subject,
Psychology, so I had to write projects and other things. I did
very well actually, I graduated with the top mark in my year in
Psychology at Cardiff University and I also got the top mark
for an essay in my year out of everyone who took Psychology,
so it showed me that once I had overcome those barriers, I was
quite good at the fundamentals of writing essays – coming up
with ideas, forming arguments, putting it together logically. It
was just the spelling and my thought process getting disturbed
that was causing problems.

EAB: How did LexAble and Global AutoCorrect take shape?

NC: I set up LexAble as soon as I graduated and built a
commercial version of the tool, which became Global
AutoCorrect. Then I started to show people Global
AutoCorrect, asking companies if their clients would benefit
from the software.

That lasted a couple of years, then it got to the point where, as
LexAble developed, I would call people up and ask if they
wanted to know more about the software, and they would say
‘Oh yes, I’ve already heard about it, my colleague
recommended it.’ So, we hit critical mass when we realised that
people were becoming aware of it. And at that point, things just
really exploded.

EAB: You went on to win the ‘Accessibility’ category at the
Technology4Good Awards…

NC: That was really useful for us, partly as a validation that
what we were doing was a really good thing, but it also
introduced us to some corporate clients. Some of the people we
met at the awards are now helping us to distribute Global
AutoCorrect across large companies.

EAB: Do you think people with dyslexia and other print
impairments might struggle with computer-based tasks but not
know how they can go about overcoming those difficulties?

NC: Yes, I’m sure they do. If you have the correct, easy-to-use
assistive technology on a computer, it can actually circumvent
a lot of the problems that you have.

When you’ve invested time and perhaps when you’ve got
some support with using a computer and technology, then
actually, using a computer can make your life so much easier
and more fulfilling.

Using a computer is quite a stressful, new thing, and you’ve got
to learn skills in order to start using it. For some people that can
cause a lot of anxiety and stress. The same goes for pieces of
software. There are a lot of things out there that can help
people, but you’ve got to find out what suits your working
style and how to use the piece of kit. Once you’ve got over
those initial barriers to using computers and AT, the benefits
they can give in terms of productivity and reducing stress are
absolutely massive.

NOTE: You can find out more about Global AutoCorrect at
LexAble’s website: http://www.lexable.com/

And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live:

[Section Three ends]

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++End Notes.

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Editor: Dan Jellinek.
Reporter: Tristan Parker.
Editorial advisor: Kevin Carey.

ISSN 1476-6337.

[Issue 156 ends.] 

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