Removing Barriers to Learning and Work is the theme of a new conference supported by BATA and with discounted conference entrance and exhibition packages available for BATA members.

Called the Assistive Technology Exhibition and Conference (ATEC) the event will; take place in Oxford on May 17.

Aimed at disability professionals involved in post 16 education and the work place, ATEC brings together up-to-the minute developments in assistive technology and the latest thinking about what accessibility means.

Barclays is the conference sponsor and Paul Smyth, Head of IT Accessibility at Barclays, is delivering the first of the key note speeches. While there are legal obligations and a social imperative to make products accessible, there are also sound commercial reasons.

With an ageing population the number of people with disabilities is growing year on year and it is estimated that this segment of the market has a disposable income of more than £500bn in the UK alone.

Paul Smyth recently ran an event called Living in Our Customers’ World which brought together Barclays senior managers and a cross section of disabled people.

Standing in their customers’ shoes motivated these business leaders to make changes. Barclays has introduced award-winning talking cash machines, hi-visibility debit cards and advances in using voice biometrics for telephone banking security.

The Business Disability Forum (BDF) has been advising businesses for over 25 years and has worked with major companies including Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and HMRC.

Lucy Ruck, manager of BDF’s Technology Taskforce, is delivering a workshop called, The Accessibility Maturity Model – how it will help you to become more Disability Smart within your own business, for your employees and your customers.

The Accessibility Maturity Model is a commonsense approach to accessibility. It is a self-scoring review that lets a business assess how far along the accessibility route it has come.

The model is accompanied by best practice guides and case studies to help companies move on. “Accessibility is getting more sophisticated,” said Ruck. “The goalposts are changing all the time and so they should.”

Accessibility often consists of making adaptations to meet the needs of individuals but many students and workers can be helped if barriers are removed at the initial planning stage.

Universal design is a set of principles for curriculum development that gives all individuals equal opportunities to learn. Kerry Pace of Diverse Learners supports students and practitioners in health care settings and works with health trusts to support workers with disabilities adapt to a new environment and deal with the expectations of their employers and co-workers. Her session will look at using different approaches to make learning more accessible.

Sometimes with assistive technology users prefer a quick and dirty solution to a more sophisticated answer. At other times specialist assistive technologies are essential.

With funding restrictions it is imperative that professionals in education, healthcare and commerce understand why some solutions prove to be popular while others are left to languish.

Abi James of the University of Southampton and the British Dyslexia Association’s  New Technologies Committee will be leading a discussion called Got the tech, but do they use it? It will focus on the factors that make a difference to the successful adoption of assistive technology.

What some call a disability, others see as a gift, especially when it comes to dyslexia. Despite an unhappy time at school, Debra Charles has constantly striven to stand out from the crowd so her keynote Why the word ‘normal’ should be taken out of the dictionary reflects her own stance.

Debra had the skills and determination that led to a successful career working with Apple, followed by a post at Westinghouse in robotics. She is now CEO of her own smartcard technology firm Novacroft – the company behind the Oyster Card and the Ucan-do-it rewards and recognition scheme.

She wants schools, colleges and businesses to identify and make the very best use of young people’s hidden talents. Hopefully ATEC will encourage others to take a more open and creative approach to recruitment and retention.

The full rates and discounts that apply to members of BATA are as follows:. Conference delegate £70.00 with a BATA discount: of £10.00. Exhibitor only: £890 with a BATA discount of £89. Exhibitor and workshop package:  £1170 with a BATA discount of £117. For further information please contact Reeza Awoodun at reeza.awoodun@techedmarketing.com.

ATEC is on Tuesday, May 17 2016 at Jurys Inn, Oxford 30 Godstow Road, OX2 8PG http://www.ateconference.com/conference-agenda/

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