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Three autumn events on leading overseas AT markets

Light coming our of hand with a projection of the world

The ATGlobal Special Interest Group has organised three first class events for the autumn featuring experts on the Indian, German and USA markets.

They will provide invaluable insights into the AT sector in these countries.  The online events are free to BATA members, but non-members can also join in, for a small fee. Go to Eventbrite for further information and to choose which ones to attend.

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Tobii Dynavox acquires Smartbox

Consolidation among AT suppliers continues with eye tracking specialist Tobii Dynavox’s £11m takeover of Smartbox.

The acquisition follows hearing aid company Sonova’s recent purchase of Gordon Morris, the assistive listening device supplier.

“Together we will be able to drive more innovation, drive broader programs to educate the market and empower even more people with disabilities to fulfil their dreams and potential,” says TobiiDynavox.

Smartbox, developer of the Grid communications software widely used in alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) applications, was founded in 2006 by Paul Hawes.

TobiiDynavox intends to build new features and functionalities for Grid and Snap + Core First. It will retain Smartbox’s two offices and network of resellers.

For further information email or go to

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Law will ensure UK’s public websites are accessible

Accessibility Toolbar

September saw the introduction of UK laws on making public sector websites and mobile apps accessible, in line with a recent EU Directive.

Campaigners hope that the changes will increase the number of accessible websites in the UK but are also concerned about the number of exemptions that have been allowed.

From next month public sector bodies will be required “to take the necessary measures to make their websites and mobile applications more accessible by making them perceivable, operable, understandable and robust”.

In practice this will involve keeping to a European standard called EN 301 549, which incorporates the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

In order to comply with the legislation, public sector organisations will need to monitor the accessibility of their websites and mobile apps, make information from the monitoring available in an accessibility statement, and provide reports to the Digital Government Service.

The accessibility legislation will take time to have an impact, however. Public sector websites created after September 23 will not need to comply with the requirements until 23 September 2019.

Sites developed before then will have two years to make changes while mobile apps will not have to be revamped until 23 June 2021.

Controversial exemptions include schools, nurseries, the BBC, non-governmental organisations and third-party content that appears on public sector websites.

Long-time accessibility campaigner AbilityNet points out that two thirds of respondents to a Government consultation objected to the exemptions.

“It is disappointing and not a little concerning,” said Robin Christopherson, the charity’s Head of Digital Inclusion.

“It is also seemingly in contradiction with existing legislation such as the Equality Act 2010 which most definitely requires organisations across all sectors not to discriminate against people who need website and app accessibility to participate in today’s digital world.”

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Summit agrees policies to boost Disabled Students Allowances

Sunley Conference Centre, Northampton University

Delegates to the DSA Summit in July at Northampton University took a number of important decisions that will shape BATA’s policy towards AT in higher education.

They agreed to set up a working party to look at the idea of a single portal covering the equipment and non-medical help a student might need.

Those who attended also voted to establish a non-medical help special interest group chaired by Laura Cook, a director of the Learning Support Centre.

And they took the first step to developing an accreditation system for assistive technology trainers by setting up a working party with David Atkinson as interim chair.

The working party will first look at creating a certification system based on free training courses offered by software publishers and hardware companies that would enable trainers to be have their skills recognised. The system would be the first phase in a fully-fledged programme of accreditation for trainers.

Attendees were also treated to a fascinating presentation by Lesley Morrice, chair of the National Network of Assessment Centres, about the work by DSA-QAG to introduce quality assurance for those carrying out student assessments.

Download Summit report

Download the minutes of the meeting.