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Bulletin No. 27, June 2011

Welcome

Welcome to AT R&D News, a free monthly newsletter from FAST with the latest on research and development in the AT field. Our aim is to help researchers stay up to date with national developments, local initiatives and research projects relevant to the AT community. There are also regular updates on sources of funding, AT jobs, conferences and opportunities to share knowledge about the AT sector.

Contents

  1. Funding update
  2. New projects
  3. RAATE 2011
  4. AT in the news
  5. Call for papers
  6. Jobs
  7. Events and resources

1. Funding update

  • There is a total investment of up to £23 million available under the UK-wide DALLAS programme – Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale. This comprises an £18m investment by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), with a further £5m contribution from the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise. DALLAS will establish between three and five communities of 10,000 people each or more across the UK, of which one will be in Scotland. These will show how assisted living technologies and services can be used to promote wellbeing, and provide top quality health and care, enabling people to live independently – including a preventative approach. Successful projects will attract 100% of public funding and last up to 36 months. Applicants must register by 20th July 2011 with a first stage submission deadline of 27th July 2011. For further information, go here.  
     
  • The TSB is also planning a £5m initiative aimed at accelerating the formation of the 'Internet of Things' ecosystem of applications and services and is inviting British businesses and other stakeholders to help shape the programme. Beginning with a series of workshops and the launch of a Special Interest Group in the summer, to be followed by investments in feasibility studies, research & development projects and pilots, the aim of the initiative is to help the UK gain an early advantage in Internet of Things adoption, applications and services development. Potential applications include smart care, smart homes and pervasive computing. Details of the special interest group are available here. The funding application will open in autumn 2011 and there is more information via this link
     
  • Telecoms supplier Cable & Wireless has announced funding designed to enhance the lives of those with special needs through its expertise in mission critical communications. Its newly launched Foundation is looking to partner and build relationships with institutions that support, research, develop or implement the appropriate, specialist communication requirements. By making the most of its resources, the company is also aiming to offer communication solutions and services to organisations supporting people with special needs, as well as working with experts to understand how people’s lives can be enhanced and enabling colleagues to build meaningful partnerships with relevant organisations.The first round of applications is now open and closes on 1st August 2011. For more details, go here
     
  • NIHR has announced a fifth competition to appoint senior investigators, its most prominent and prestigious researchers who it says makethe most outstanding contribution to research essential for decision-making in health and in social care, and are fundamental to NIHR Faculty.  NIHR Senior Investigators receive an annual award of £15,000 as a personal discretionary fund. The previous four rounds of competition have seen 20 successful applicants  selected by an international panel of judges, currently chaired by Professor Sir Alex Markham. The deadline for the current round of applications is 5th August 2011 and to find out more, go here.

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2. New projects

  • Researchers at Newcastle University are looking at 'Ageing in place and the impact of emerging technologies on the lives of older people'. With government policy now focused on enabling older people to remain in their homes for as long as possible, there is an increasing need to critically look at the impact that technologies supporting 'ageing in place' have on the everyday lives of older people. The research will evaluate the part digital technologies can play in assisting older people to stay connected to their wider community and protecting/supporting their self perception and identity within the private environment of the home. For more information, go here
     
  • Assisted living systems are designed to support older and/or disabled people to live independently at home and severalc urrent applications include the use of robots to assist with everyday tasks.However, to date no project has demonstrated a robot which is capable of manipulating objects and reading the text on them, for example, when handling a tin of soup or bottle of cleaning-spray. MOET - Manipulation of Objects for Text Extraction is a project being conducted jointly by the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England to investigate ways of developing 'active vision', in which a robot is able to manipulate an object in its grasp so as to locate areas covered in text. Additional work will tackle the requirement for the robot to also able to manipulate the object further in order to get it in the best position for reading the text and to check whether there is additional text elsewhere on the object. Details via this link.
     
  • Students with mobility disabilities are sometimes unable to participate in field trips or other external activities which form part of their course. Simply reading about the area or site in question does not equate to the experience of making a visit. Watching the world go by on a computer or TV screen may be engaging, but it does not support a student's interaction with the physical world. Out There and In Here: Social Inclusion through Distributed Team Collaboration is an Open University project developing and evaluating systems to link students using mobile computing devices in the field, connected via mobile telephony or satellite data networks, to students in a 'mission control' style classroom, using an interactive table-top, projected displays and other technologies, supporting access to a range of relevant resources, the review and organisation of data, and the development of hypotheses and reports. So for the research team has performed a major set of in-situ trials to engage several diverse groups from the local community with the Mill Road Cemetery site in Cambridge. To find out more, go here.

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3. RAATE 2011

  • Professor Roger O. Smith has been named as the keynote speaker at this year's RAATE conference. Professor Smith is Professor of Occupational Science and Technology in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and is also director of the Rehabilitation Research Design & Disability (R2D2) Center at the University . His research focuses on measurement related to disability and the application of assistive technology and universal design.

    The only UK conference focused on the latest innovations in AT, RAatE 2011 takes place on Monday 28th November 2011 at the University of Warwick Conference Centre and will be of interest to everyone who uses, works with, develops or conducts research in the field of AT. RAatE is known as a friendly and productive conference that offers the chance to meet and share knowledge and experiences with other people working in AT. Full details about RAATE are available via this link.

    The Call for Papers for RAatE 2011 is now open and individuals are invited to submit papers, case studies or posters on a range of topics, including:

•Services - Aspects of Service Delivery

•Developments & Challenges in Wheelchair Services

•New Service Demands: Commissioning of Re-ablement & AT Services

•Emerging Technologies & Recent Advances in AT

•Case Studies of Innovative AT in Practice

In addition to research papers or new innovations this year RAatE welcomes offers of presentations on how specialist aspects of assistive technology are delivered within services. With an ever expanding range of technology, how do services meet the increasing needs and expectations of their client groups? In particular RAatE welcomes hearing how services provide specialist aspects of assistive technology such as specialist wheelchair controls, integrated access, communication requirements or environmental controls. Challenges and solutions that have worked locally can be presented in the form of case studies or group presentations.

The deadline for the call for papers is 8th July 2011 and submissions can be made via the RAatE website here.

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4. AT in the news

  • MyChoicePad is an iPad application built to aid communication for people with learning and communication difficulties. It does this by using Makaton symbols and signs with real sounding speech. To find out more, follow this link.   
     
  • Communication Matters is running a competition for people who use AAC with the opportunity to interview a well known person as the prize as one of the events in the 'Hello' National Year of Communication. Currently a singer, a performance poet, a soap actor and a TV presenter have signed up to be interviewed,and the deadline for entry into the competition has been extended to 31st July 2011 to give more people the chance to apply. More information is available here.  
     
  • The Annual da Vinci Awards annually recognises innovations in assistive and adaptive technologies that help people with disabilities. Nominations for the tenth awards this year close on 31st July 2011. Nominations can be any product or organisation of any size  as long as it benefits people with disabilities in their work, play or day-to-day living. This year, for the first time ever, students can also be nominated for their innovations. To find out more, follow this link
     
  • A children’s technology charity which provides a package of fun and educational technology to every children’s hospice in the UK won the accessibllity award in the first ever UK Technology4Good Awards.  Winners in other cateogries included Internet Buttons, a company which has developed a web tool that aims to simplify the Internet for new or nervous users by allowing users to create a page with a few simple links (details are here). There is more about the awards here
     
  • The second annual list of the 100 most influential people in the wired world - the self-styled 'Digital Britain Ultimate Power List' published by Wired magazine in June 2011 - included Jeremy Myerson, director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design.The citation for Myerson's inclusion, named as the only educator alongside digital writers, entrepreneurs, bloggers and corporate leaders, made specific reference to his new book, "New Demographics New Workspace" (Gower 2010) which explores the digital needs and preferences of older workers in the knowledge economy and makes a savage critique of current IT solutions. More information via this link.   
     
  • The proportion of disabled people is rising and now represents 1 billion people – 15% of the global population – according to the first official global report on disability by the World Health Organisation and the World Bank. An ageing population and an increase in chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, mean the proportion has grown from an estimated 10% in the 1970s. One of the report's authors, Tom Shakespeare, said ne of the most "shocking and powerful" issues highlighted in the research was the discrimination in healthcare. More details via this link.
     
  • The ViPi (Virtual portal for ImpaiRed Groups Interaction) project is asking for responses to its user requirement survey which will guide the focus of future ViPi project developments. This EU-funded research is looking at the ways in which ICT can e used to provide alternative and creative solutions for the employment of people with disabilities. The project will make available accessible and flexible training via a one-stop-shop interactive portal and learning environment which is available online and via mobile phones. The UK partner is the Interactive Systems Research Group at Nottingham Trent University. There is more about ViPi here and the survey is here.
     
  • Liz Sayce, chief executive of pan-disability charity Radar is the author of a report out from the Department of Work and Pensions looking at the support needed to get and keep disabled people in employment. "Getting in, staying in and getting on" recommends changes to government policy to support disabled people to work in any role in any sector by doubling the numbers of people able to use Access to Work support, and raising the overall numbers securing specialist disability employment support to 100,000 within existing resources. To find out more, go here.
     
  • Rightmove is the biggest property website in the UK and 90% of estate agents advertise on it. Currently, Rightmove neither identifies, nor provides search options for property with wheelchair access, and the Accessible Property Register is running a campaign to persuade Rightmove to identify and provide search options for property with wheelchair access. To learn more and register a vote on this, follow this link.  
     
  • The Audit Commission is urging councils to to reduce the numbers of people they place in residential care and keep more pensioners in their own homes for longer, saying its research shows that supporting people to continue to live at home is more cost effective than paying for residential care. To find out more, go here
     
  • Rutland County Council and Leicestershire County & Rutland PCT have been taking part in a project with Spire Homes to introduce a 'telecare co-ordinator' to help support tenants to live independently by using a range of assistive technologies (AT) including falls pendants, remote controlled sockets and touch lamps. In a pilot project, 130 out of 150 tenants said their quality of life had been improved through the use of AT. More details via this link.    
     
  • Marion Hersh from the University of Glasgow's department of electronics and electrical engineering is working with a colleague in Italy on research looking at the accessibility and usability of educational materials. As part of this, there is a survey of the accessibility and usability of educational computer-based games and gaming environments, as games are being used increasingly in teaching. There are two versions of the questionnaire, one for disabled students, recent students and parents of disabled students, and the other for teachers, lecturers, tutors and educational experts/specialists. Both questionnaires can be downloaded from this link.  


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5. Call for papers

  • Call for papers for Special Issue of Interacting with Computers on Presence and Interaction. In an increasingly broad range of application domains, interactive presence is becoming a key aspect of user experience design. This special issue examines the relationship between the sense of presence and interaction in computer-mediated environments designed for a wide variety of purposes including, but not limited to: interaction with digital others (avatars, robots); interactive entertainment (games, the arts); as an experiential tool (psychotherapy, education); motor activity (physiotherapy, sports training). Abstracts of between 300-500 words to Dr. John Waterworth (jwworth@informatik.umu.se) and Dr. Giuseppe Riva (giuseppe.riva@unicatt.it) by 30th June 2011. More details here.
     
  • The Seventh ACM Symposium on Eye Tracking Research & Applications (ETRA 2012) will be held in Santa Barbara, California on March 28th-30th, 2012. The ETRA conference series focuses on all aspects of eye movement research and applications across a wide range of disciplines. The symposium presents research that advances the state-of-the-art in these areas, leading to new capabilities in gaze tracking systems, gaze aware applications, gaze based interaction and eye movement data analysis. The call for papers closes 7th October 2011and there is more information via this link

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6. Jobs

  • UCL's Accessibility Research Group within the Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering (CEGE) is looking for a Research Assistant in Assistive Technology. The post involves working on a feasibility study funded by EPSRC and led by Professor Nick Tyler to investigate the possibility of developing a 'second skin' which could act as an exoskeleton and muscular support for people with locomotory difficulties. The work involves collaboration between Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Nanotechnology and Physics, Orthopaedics and Neurology and the successful applicant will need to be skilled in one of them, but open to embrace the others as required. Deadline for applications is 22nd July 2011 and there is more information here.
     
  • The National Centre for Prosthetics and Orthotics at the University of Strathclyde is seeking a post-doctoral research associate to work on an EPSRC KTA-REP (Research Exploitation Partnership) funded project entitled, "Sub-atmospheric pressure in lower limb prosthetic sockets". The project will be led by Dr Arjan Buis and Dr Emma Henderson in direct collaboration with industrial partner Otto Bock Healthcare and the applicant will be expected to spend periods of time working in Germany. The deadline for applications is 13th July 2010 and for more details, go here.
     
  • Disability organisation Remploy wants to recruit a non-executive director to the board to help shape the company's business to better understand and meet the needs of disabled people and employers and strengthen the services it offers. Attendance at six board meetings a year in Leicester, plus two to three days a month spent on Remploy business is normally expected. Deadline to apply is 18th July 2011 and there is more here.

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7. Events and resources

  •  The MSc Digital Inclusion at Middlesex University is currently recruiting students to start in September 2011 and January 2012. The course takes two years to complete part time. The two modules that will be taught in the academic year 2011 to 2012 will have the following on campus dates: 

 Accessible Web Design CMT4705 Monday 26th September 2011 to Friday 30th September 2011 (module leader Suzette Keith)

 Inclusive Design and User Experience CMT4715 Monday 9th January 2012 to Friday 13th January 2012 (module leader Mark Springett)

Anyone interested in studying for an MSc while working should contact Gill Whitney (Programme Leader MSc Digital Inclusion) on G.Whitney@mdx.ac.uk. Further information on the MSc can be found here.

  • The Code of Practice for Community Equipment is the official publication of the new ‘Community Equipment Code of Practice Scheme’ (CECOPS). It sets down a quality framework for procurement and provision of services, allowing high quality, efficient and safe services to be delivered. It covers all methods of provision including the Transforming Community Equipment Services (TCES) Retail Model and has been written by Brian Donnelly. Main topics covered include: commissioning; governance; joint working; legal and welfare related obligations; health & safety; performance management; training requirements; stock management; managing medical devices; clinical responsibilities. To find out more and to order a copy, go here
     
  • Vodafone Foundation is launching the Smart Accessibility Awards, a new competition to promote the development of IT applications designed to improve the lives of people with disabilities and older people to help them become more actively involved in society. The programme is supported and co-organized by AGE Platform Europe, the European network of around 160 organisations of & for people aged 50+, and the European Disability Forum (EDF), the NGO that represents the interests of 80 million Europeans with disabilities. The total prize fund of the €200k will be split equally between the four winners. The competition is open from 14 June to 15 October and there is more information via this link.  
     
  • Remploy is offering a PC for sale at £92. The reconditioned computers have gone on sale nationwide is part of the company's commitment to Race Online 2012 and aims to support UK Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox’s vision for a ‘Networked Nation,’ ensuring Web access for all. Remploy e-cycle is using refurbished computers, and provides customers with low cost machines and affordable internet deals to get them started at home quickly, easily and affordably. For more details, go here.  
     

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