Accessibility Toolbar

Law will ensure UK’s public websites are accessible

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.”

Sunley Conference Centre, Northampton University

Summit agrees policies to boost Disabled Students Allowances

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.

BATA at TES SEN Show October 5 and 6

 

Come and see us on stand 14 at the TES SEN Show 2018. It is a must-attend annual event for everyone in the special educational needs community and will provide two days of dedicated, educational and engaging SEN focus.

Packed with 42 CPD certified seminars, a free opening keynote, 150+ exhibitors and free-to-attend exhibitor workshops, this year’s show will continue to shine the spotlight on SEN provision and best practice.

The informative show will provide attendees with:

* An unrivalled opportunity to hear from renowned key names in SEN.

* The chance to update current thinking on vital areas of your practice.

* The opportunity to network with your peers in a stimulating, vibrant environment.

* The potential to return to your schools and settings, full of new practical ideas.

* Access to valuable information that will shape your provision.

Find out more at www.tessenshow.co.uk.

Register now free and book your seminars..

For exhibitor enquiries, please contact david.hussey@markallengroup.com.

teacher in front of students

Educationalists (BATA’s Public Special Interest Group)

Educationalists comprises of a mixture of teachers, SENCOs , higher education/university DSA support, suppliers of assistive technology  and interested professionals. The aim of this special interest group (SIG) is to promote the use of assistive technology in schools. In this time of austerity and cutbacks there has been an unprecedented reduction of organisations and specialists who can provide up to date and relevant information to schools.  Schools have little or no input in this area, Educationalists exists to bridge that gap. To enable schools and their staff to maximise the benefit of AT with their pupils. The SIG will enable you to post up queries, take polls and discuss issues that arise in your experience. It’s not about selling products. BATA is a non-for-profit organisation run by volunteers from a range of backgrounds to raise the awareness of AT in the UK.

Educationalists is free to join and you will receive emails with members posts. You can listen and learn or initiate and take part in your own topics. Why not sign up today here.?

Fundraising walk overtakes target

Nearly sixty people donated to our fundraising walk at Derwent Reservoir in aid of BATA, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). At the time of writing we have raised £6,315, well over our target.

Donations came from both individuals and companies. Special thanks to the teams from Texthelp and Wyvern Business Systems for their participation, and to Sarah-Jane Peake, Nicole Reid and David Atkinson for organising the event.

BATA will use the funds it receives to continue its various campaigns to get a better deal for AT users. RNIB will use donations to further the work of its Technology for Life team, which supports the charity’s regional network. The BDA will devote its share to supporting its dyslexia helpline.

We are grateful to everyone who so generously put their hand in their pocket. Those that supported the walk included Aventido, Barry Bennett, Big Voice Communication, Claro Software, Diversity and Ability, Hamer Technology, Iansyst, Invate, Lexxic, Mark Farrar, Neil Cottrell, Rick Bell, Sarah-Jane Peake, Scanning Pens, Sight and Sound, Sonocent, Spellex, Suzanne Hewitt, Texthelp, Wyvern Business Systems and more besides.

A big thank you to all who contributed their time, money and energy to our good causes.

Cheap loans to boost AT at work

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should set up a Motability-type scheme to provide low cost loans to buy assistive technology (AT), according to a recently published report on AT and employment by the Work and Pensions Committee.

The DWP should allow Personal Independence Payments to be used to lease or buy AT, in the same way as it can now be used to lease a car, the cross-party Committee argues.

Users of the scheme should be offered a consultation before buying equipment, with expert assistive technology advisers, to ensure they are buying the most appropriate and cost-effective equipment.

The DWP need not administer the scheme, but should ensure that whoever does so works in line with the principles of providing a public service.

Assistive technology is becoming cheaper and increasingly mainstream, says the report, and has the ability to close the gap between number of disabled and non-disabled people in work.

“Assistive Technology is a silver bullet. It has the power to help huge numbers of people overcome disability and get a job, transforming their quality of life,” said Alex Burghart MP, a committee member.

But employers and disabled people continue to perceive AT as costly, bespoke equipment, and its development is being held back by outdated attitudes, MPs note.

Their report calls on the Government to create a fifth Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge on Assistive Technology and bring together a consortium of AT developers and entrepreneurs, users, employers and support providers to bid for funding, to bridge gaps in provision.

To encourage employers, the report recommends the DWP dedicates a section of its Disability Confident portal to assistive technology.

To encourage government to be more accessible, the DWP is urged to create a central standard for accessible systems in government departments, publishing an annual report on compliance that ranks departments from most to least accessible.

Opportunities for disabled people to understand the potential benefits of assistive technology while looking for work are limited, the report says. It recommends DWP introduces mandatory training on AT for workplace coaches.

In addition the report recommends DWP undertakes an assessment of suppliers of assistive technology support in order to develop a more extensive market linked to the Flexible Support Fund, which enables Jobcentre Plus to cover job seekers’ travel expenses, training courses and clothing for interviews.

Read the full report here.

 

Education Committee launches inquiry into new SEND system

The House of Commons Education Committee has launched an inquiry into support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

In 2014, the Government introduced changes to the SEND system, with the intention of offering simpler, improved and consistent help for children and young people with SEND.

The Government claimed these changes would give families greater choice in decisions. The Committee’s new inquiry is intended to review the success of these reforms, how they have been implemented, and what impact they are having in meeting the challenges faced by children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The Committee is inviting written evidence on the following by 14 June 2018:

  • Assessment of and support for children and young people with SEND
  • The transition from statements of special educational needs and Learning Disability Assessments to Education, Health and Care Plans
  • The level and distribution of funding for SEND provision
  • The roles of and co-operation between education, health and social care sectors
  • Provision for 19-25-year olds including support for independent living; transition to adult services; and access to education, apprenticeships and work

In line with the general practice of select committees, the Education Committee resolved on 12 September 2017 to not investigate individual cases. The Committee understands that personal experiences will form an important part of many submissions, but requests that any written evidence directly addresses the terms of reference set out above.

If you would like to respond to the inquiry you can make a submission here.