ECS, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering
University of Southampton
Southampton, United Kingdom. SO17 1BJ
Position: Research staff in Web and Internet Science
Telephone: Work (Voice): +44 (0)23 8059 7246
URI: http://id.ecs.soton.ac.uk/person/10510 [browse]
My career began as a Speech and Language Therapist spending eight years as the District Speech and Language Therapist at a group of London Hospitals. The work involved supporting disabled people with a wide range of communication difficulties.Having left the National Health Service, I then worked in schools and colleges, specialising in the support of those with Special Needs whilst encouraging the use of assistive technologies (AT).A Winston Churchill Fellowship provided the chance to see how centres of AT were set up in the United States.This resulted in ten years work at the University of Sussex, building and running a regional AT Centre, whilst liaising with others to introduce the concepts of equal access to teaching and learning for those with disabilities.I went on to work with JISC TechDis and with Professor Paul Blenkhorn and for the last few years in ECS at the University of Southampton with Professor Mike Wald and the ECS Accessibility Team. I was a member of the committee that worked on BS 8878 and am now on the WCAG Cognitive and Learning Disabilities Accessibility Task Force and the UK National Contact Person for AAATE and on RAATE, AHG, BDA and BCS committees.
The Arabic Symbol Dictionary project is ongoing and is funded by the Qatar National Research Fund and ATbar in Arabic funded by the Mada Center in Qatar is now being used in English and Arabic and originated from the LexDis project. The ATbar Marketplace has followed on, allowing the user the chance to buid a user specific browser based toolbar to enhance web page reading. Depending on the plugins chosen it is possible to have text magnification, font style and colour changes, increased line spacing, spell checking and word prediction for plain text boxes, text to speech, a dictionary and many more plugins. The Localisation of Assistive Technologies and development of culturally appropriate tools for disabled users has also become a focus of new projects with the team.
STEMReader is an SBRI funded project to develop a Mathematical equation reader for the web and desktop applications. Jisc TechDis is promoting and managing the SBRI competitions specifically aimed at exploring and developing assistive technologies to support independent learning, working and living.
Synote Researcher and Synote Mobile both JISC funded projects related to the original Synote Project, looking at making annotations and transcriptions from lectures and reseach data easy to learn as well as use which also being accessible in all senses to both students and research staff whether on a desktop computer or mobile phone. Synote Researcher is a download version of Synote whereas Synote Mobile will stream videos onto the mobile phone and allow users to annotate and share their notes across mobile networks.
Project REALISE was JISC funded and has since received conitinuation funding from Devices for Dignity working with ScHARR at the University of Sheffield, in order to further explore open innovation for Assistive Technologies. These groups frequently express the unmet need for collaboration in accessibility. REALISE addressed this through an on-line community and combining experience of accessibility and open development in the key education, employment and health sectors.
The METALL TSB funded project lead by Dolphin Computer Access Ltd built on the Accessible Resources Project and was aimed at improving the availability of published materials in formats that are accessible for visually impaired elderly individuals and dyslexic pupils. There are links with the Load2Learn Project and an appreciation that unless the resources (that have been converted to accessible format) can be easily found, the user will not willingly access ebooks or ebook market places. At present the metadata available does not tell the user how accessible the book will be on their chosen device and often depends on the ereader software/app available.
The MyDocStore Project was SBRI TSB funded, run by Iansyst Ltd, developing an iPhone app that can pull down accessible documents from the web using the chosen settings of the user - so a document can be be received by email or available on the web and found to be inaccessible - it is sent to a server to be scanned with optical character recognition and then returns to the user in a chosen format such as Mp3, MS Word doc, epub etc. The app has since been made available as AZZAPT
The JISC funded LexDis project, with participation from students, has provided insights into the strategies and technologies used in e-learning situations. This Project has resulted in a database of strategies, guides and descriptions of technologies used by students and has continuation funding from the Student Centredness Fund at the Univeristy of Southamtpon.
The Web2Access JISC TechDis funded project is also helping us to understand a wide range of access issues. Ongoing ease of use and accessibility checking of many interactive Web 2.0 applications and services (using a set of criteria based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) has resulted in an online evaluation toolkit along the development of an Access Menu for USB pen drive applications and a tool bar for making the access of many web sites easier - more Accessible Technologies information.