Microsoft backs Enable Ireland’s digital transformation

Dan Klein, Microsoft Ireland, with Christina McCarthy and Siobhan Long, Enable Ireland

Microsoft has donated a software package to Enable Ireland allowing the charity to move its operations to the cloud through Office 365 for its 1,200 staff and volunteers.

The announcement was made at the graduation ceremony for 17 students of the Foundations in Assistive Technology course, delivered by Enable Ireland and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).

Microsoft has supported the Assistive Technology course for 15 years, hosting training sessions at the company’s campus in Sandyford, Co Dublin and hosting fundraisers including an annual funding drive and volunteering to decorate local facilities.

A total of 365 participants have graduated from this course since 2001, including people with disabilities and their families, employers, educators and carers. The course trains people in the use of Assistive Technologies including desktops, tablets, smart phones and smart home devices as well as leisure pursuits such as gaming, music and photography.  The course is aimed at providing a solid foundation in AT for diverse audiences: adults who are AT users, therapists, teachers, IT professionals, families and others.

Siobhan Long, national manager, assistive technology training service, Enable Ireland, said: “Well done to the 17 fantastically talented individuals who have worked so hard and today graduated from the Foundations in Assistive Technology course. We recently conducted an assistive technology survey which showed that users overwhelming appreciated the difference that AT makes to their lives.

This national online Assistive Technology survey was undertaken as part of the research process which informs the recommendations made. A total of 236 Assistive Technology users responded to the survey. The findings dispel the widely-held belief that AT is expensive, with 64% of respondents indicating that they used technology costing less than €1,000. 41% of AT users reported that they had self-funded their own AT. Respondents were extremely positive on the perceived usefulness of their AT equipment with 61% reporting that they couldn’t manage without it. However, nearly 30% of respondents experienced frustration and delays in the process of securing their AT. Waiting times were also highly variable, with 54% reporting that they received their AT in three months. However, 15% had to wait over 6 months and 16% waited in excess of a year.

“For people with disabilities and older people, technology can change the most ordinary of
daily activities from the impossible to the possible. Assistive Technology can support people
to live to their fullest, to participate in education and employment and to live independently
and as part of their communities.” Senator John Dolan, CEO
Disability Federation of Ireland.

Dan Klein, Microsoft Ireland, said: “At Microsoft we believe it is critically important that we think about making technology accessible to all. Our collaboration with Enable Ireland has given our team an important window of insight into people’s needs and prompted new innovation… Enable Ireland does critically important work in moving the focus from the disability to the person – not least through its Assistive Technology course.”

Read more: http://www.techcentral.ie/oh991#ixzz4R1j0eQB9

Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities and Older People

Assistive technology for people with disabilities and older people paper

On November 7th last in Dublin, Enable Ireland and the Disability Federation in Ireland launched a Discussion Paper representing the views of a cross-sectoral stakeholder group convened through CHAT (Community Hub for Assistive Technology) which sets out a practical road map to improving the provision of Assistive Technology services and supports to people with disabilities and older people. Further details can be found here:

http://www.enableireland.ie/resources/news/enable-ireland-and-disability-federation-ireland-launch-discussion-paper-future

Currently, far too few people who could benefit from AT, have access to it here in Ireland, but with increasingly accessible mainstream solutions coupled with associated dramatic falls in cost, we believe that the remedy for this gap is more achievable than ever.

This report was published through a partnership between Enable Ireland and DFI, who share a concern regarding the under-resourcing of Assistive Technology nationally. Together, and in partnership with the CHAT community, and any other interested parties, we recognise an urgent need for advocacy and information campaigning in order to increase public awareness and understanding of the potential for AT to enhance quality of life and independence, as well as enhancing government’s awareness of their role in making AT available to those who need it.

Hear more on the launch from our ATandMe Podcast

http://www.atandme.com/?page_id=331

Foundations in AT

Enable Ireland’s National AT training Service deliver a “Foundations in AT” Course which is accredited by DIT. The objective of the course is to provide participants with the AT knowledge and skills that they require to support AT users. The course duration is 3 days face-to-face training in Microsoft, Dublin and an equivalent of 7 days on-line learning.
Course Dates: 9th February, 8th March, 12th April 2016.
We caught up with a number of graduates at the 2015 graduation in Microsoft and got their view of the course.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION or to reserve your place, please contact Shirley (sdeakin@enableireland.ie). Ph: (01) 2184100.

Touch Drive 2 Wheelchair Controller

For power wheelchair users who find the joystick controller difficult to use there are various other ways to control and drive a wheelchair.  Most of these alternatives are based around switches. Here is an interesting alternative to driving a powered wheelchair which I have recently got on loan.
The TouchDrive 2 is an alternative wheelchair controller from SwitchIt.  SwitchIt produce a range of proportional and non-proportional wheelchair controllers.  This one uses touchscreen technology to drive a power wheelchair.  It can be set-up on power wheelchairs that have P&G R-Net, Q-Logic/ Curtis and Dynamic DX electronics systems, which accounts for many power wheelchairs.

As its due back soon, I made a quick video to demonstrate it.

For more alternative ways to control a power wheelchair, see the following post http://www.atandme.com/?p=950

Accessible presents for Christmas

toy carFinding accessible toys may at first may seem a difficult task. However there are various options from toys that are switch adapted to toys that are accessible by the nature of their design. The following information has been prepared by Enable Ireland’s National Assistive Technology Service to show some of the options and resources that you might want to consider.

The toys shown are not necessarily recommendations but simply a selection of items which may be of interest, particularly at times such as Christmas and birthdays, when presents are high on the list of priorities.

Download Accessible Apps Games and Toys in pdf (1.4MByte)