Accessibility Hackathon 8-9 June 2013

Barclays, in partnership with Central Working, held the Accessibility Hackathon with leading UK charities, designed to come up with creative solutions to help the lives of people with varying accessibility issues. There were some fantastic apps built over the weekend - thank you all participants!

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  1. First up, Linda Hall, Head of Citizenship for Operations and Technology at Barclays, introduced the idea behind the Accessibility Hackathon. 
  2. On to the charity pitches. First up David Sloan from Action on Hearing Loss took us through the different categorisations of hearing loss - from mild to profound - and how it affects day-to-day living. He highlighted apps already on the market such as myFriend mobile, Dragon Dictation, Tap Tap and SoundAmp R which aim to assist those hard of hearing in different ways.
  3. Ian Rutter, Senior Manager Age UK Engage Business Network, talked about the stigmatising language used around age and technology, and challenged us to consider the customer, the individual, and their needs and aspirations. He highlighted the fact that consumerism doesn't stop when we reach a certain age or have a certain disability or impairment, and on this basis challenged developers to design a tech product which prolonges independence for older users.
  4. Next up: Nick Scott, New Partnerships Executive, Rose Pearson, Peer Support Group Facilitator and Manoj Kerai, New Partnerships Officer from Alzheimer's Society spoke about dementia. They highlighted apps that would be useful for those living with dementia, such as tracking devices that facilitate organisation and planning, around reminiscence, games and hobbies, such as using personal memories in an interactive way. They gave a fantastic analogy to help us understand Alzheimers: if our memories are a bookshelf, you have the hard, solid books on the bottom, as as you go up the shelves you get the newer, lighter paperbacks. Having Alzheimers is like someone coming along and shaking the bookshelf. It's the lightweight paperbacks that fall first. 
  5. Becky Ellison from Macmillan Cancer Support brought along Elizabeth Crisp who took us on an inspiring account of her journey with cancer - a roller coaster of treatments, chemo, appointments, operations and medication. She highlighted how helpful it would be to get app that can record blood cell counts, appointments, and feelings for those diagnosed with cancer.  
  6. Claire King and Gary Read-Fern Gary from RNIB spoke about the potential of technology to improve quality of life for those who are blind or partially sighted.  Gary invited participants to see how mobile makes a difference to his life, and show how a blind person uses an iPhone for shopping, banking, games and Facebook, made possible through VoiceOver. He spoke of iBooks becoming accessible and how the ability to browse books was a 'life-changing experience'. They challenged developers to use accessibility frameworks and APIs to create apps for all types of impairment, not just for blind or partially sighted people. 
  7. Then to brainstorming... and coding. Putting great ideas into action in the Central Working club space. 
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