TechAbility Conference 2020

Please hold this date for the TechAbility Conference 2020.

Further details regarding content, key note speakers and workshops will be added here in due course

 

 

TechAbility drop-in and update

The third in TechAbility’s series of drop-in sessions, Fil and Neil will discuss general updates relevant to Assistive Technology at this time. This session is also an opportunity to bring your questions, insights and discussion points to the session.

 

Register for this webinar here

The recording will be available on our YouTube page a couple of days after the event

 

 

Microsoft Teams as a Virtual Learning Environment to deliver remote learning

Join this webinar to see how a specialist FE college turned their Microsoft Teams provision into a basic Virtual Learning Environment in just one week.

Darren Morgan from Employ My Ability explains how they achieved this and has some hints and tips on implementing this in your setting.

 

Please register for this webinar here

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The recording will be available on our YouTube page a couple of days after the event

TechAbility drop-ins and updates

Fil and Neil will be running a drop-in session where they will discuss general updates relevant to learners with disabilities. This will range from free software options to sharing best practice observed. There will be time for questions, enquiries and discussion.

Please register for this event here

 

The recording will be available on our YouTube page a couple of days after the event

TechAbility Standards: a route-map to excellence in assistive technology

Neil BeckNeil Beck, assistive technologist at TechAbility and National Star, explains how the recently developed standards can help providers ensure that their learners are making the most of assistive technology.

This article first appeared in Quality Times, Natspec’s member-only quality focussed publication.

What is assistive technology and why is it important?

When we talk about technology, people often think ‘cables and complex elements’ and that can be a turn-off, so I always prefer to talk about what technology can do for an individual, rather than what it is:

  • a student writing poetry using their voice
  • another reading emails for the first time, using a screen-reader and proudly replying
  • a young person making choices to look through family holiday photos with switches
  • a woman recovering from a stroke regaining lost independence: being able to communicate and return to work.

In our field we focus on assistive technology that improves educational and therapy outcomes for learners. It is a diverse field and covers everything from literacy tools to eye-gaze.

Where did the standards come from?

In the years that Fil McIntyre, my fellow assistive technologist, and I have been working for TechAbility we have found a wide unmet need around assistive technology. Support for assistive technology has come in waves for the specialist FE sector, with pockets of excellence and outstanding professionals driving this forward. We realised how important it is that colleges are able to take responsibility themselves for making effective use of assistive technology and for continuous improvement in this area, rather than relying on external support. Our focus has always been on making learners independent; now we realised we needed to improve the independence of colleges.

So, in the way that another Beck created the London Tube Map to simplify navigation, we decided to create a map to show how to navigate the technology out there – and the plethora of considerations to getting excellent outcomes. We wanted to demystify assistive technology for colleges. Our aim was to create a resource, available to everyone, that would lead to lasting improvements across the sector.

What are the standards?

The standards are a series of categories, which are then broken down further into specific recommendations with resources to help meet them. Let’s take an example:

Assessment Standard iconThe assessment standard recommends:

  • trained staff
  • standardised assessment
  • review point
  • appropriate environment
  • accessible documentation
  • appropriate equipment.

It then develops each of these points to explain how to achieve them and provides useful resources.

The categories cover everything from access skills to transition and are written to assume no prior knowledge.

Technology advances quickly, but the standards aim to provide guidance around the infrastructure and tools that have remained common.

How can the standards be used?

  • as a self-audit tool
  • to identify training needs
  • as a guide for inspection
  • to identify areas for improvement

Can I contribute to the standards?

Yes! The standards have been authored by Fil McIntyre, Rohan Slaughter and me, with the support of a wide range of groups and individuals who have contributed their feedback. We plan to update the standards periodically, so please send us any suggestions for improvements or additions, along with links to additional resources you think we could usefully reference. I’m also happy to field any questions you may have about the standards.

Where can I find the standards?

The standards were launched at the recent TechAbility Conference 2019 – Raising Standards, and are available on the TechAbility website.

What next?

We will consider if there is a demand to tailor this resource to fit mainstream education and if there are any omissions. We will also look to turning this resource into a specific online audit tool in future should there be call for this.

I hope the standards help you and that they give us all a platform to build from.


Neil and Fil are also going to be leading a workshop at Jisc’s Digifest on the 10 March about the TechAbility Standards, if you’re eager to learn more.

TechAbility Conference 2019 – Raising Standards

About the conference

The theme of the 2019 TechAbility conference is raising standards. It aims to showcase the very best practice in assistive technology provision for all learners , whatever their requirements. Attending is a must if you’re interested in integrating assistive technology into your provision, getting first-rate outcomes from best practice, or if you just want to learn a little more about how assistive technology can help your learners .

Keynote speakers

Three excellent keynote speakers are lined up to speak at the conference. They are:

  • Janice Murray, Professor of Communication Disability (AAC), Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Sal Cooke OBE, Karten Network Trustee, British Assistive Technology Association Council Member
  • Robert McLaren, Head of Industry Technology and Innovation, Policy Connect

Our keynote speakers all bring a wealth of experience about assistive technology in different environments. All will discuss how we can raise standards in assistive technology provision for learners across the board.

Workshops

Workshops are available on a wide range of topics. Whether you’re looking for expert advice or an introduction to approaches to assistive tech, there is something on offer for everyone.

Professionals from general further education colleges will likely find the workshops on assistive technology solutions for visual impairment highly useful, and will get a lot out of Rohan Slaughter’s workshop on what specialist and FE colleges can learn from each other.

Specialists will benefit from workshops that will stretch their practice. The include the results of a new study on using eye-gaze and speech technologies to code and of a research project on appropriate symbol communicational aids. If you’ve ever wondered what your college could get out of 3-D printing, or how to use switches effectively, there are workshops on those too.

TechAbility is also excited to introduce the TechAbility Standards at a workshop at the conference. These standards will outline best practice for assistive technology in further education. They’re useful if you’re just starting out or if you’re looking for something to judge existing practice against.

Full details of all workshops are available in the programme below.

Cost

£100+vat for non-members

£50+vat for Natspec members (specialist providers) & members of the Karten Network

£80+vat for Transform members (other providers)  Become a Transform member

If you would like to book a room for the evening before the conference the Rowton Hotel is offering a discounted rate of £61 B&B. Please quote Natspec TechAbility conference when booking.

 

Booking is now closed. Please contact info@natspec.org.uk for any queries.

 

General information

Please notify us in writing if you wish to make any amendments to your booking, to make a substitution or a cancellation.

Cancellations can be accepted without charge up to 7 days prior to the event. After this time full event fees will apply.

Natspec reserves the right to cancel or alter the course for reasons beyond its control.

10 practical steps to include more learners

A packed day to raise your awareness of a wide range of solutions for inclusion.

10 quick fire topics covering a wide range of assistive hardware, software and techniques such as tablet accessibility, phone apps, camera access, voice access, Office Learning Tools, digital resources and more.

“All of the topics were delivered extremely well, and were delivered in a flexible way which made the training content really meaningful”

“I found the session extremely informative: all the topics covered were new to me”

Previous workshop attendees

Cost

£80+vat for non-members

£60+vat for Transform members Become a Transform member

£40+vat for full Natspec members

Bookings for this event are now closed. To be put on the waiting list, please email info@natspec.org.uk

General information

We will send you an e-mail confirmation and joining instructions, including a venue map approximately one week before the event.

Please notify us in writing if you wish to make any amendments to your booking, to make a substitution or a cancellation.

Cancellations can be accepted without charge up to 5 days prior to the event, after this time full event fees will apply, you will be charged if you are using a free place and cancel up to 5 days before.

Natspec reserves the right to cancel or alter the course for reasons beyond its control.

10 practical steps to include more learners

A packed day to raise your awareness of a wide range of solutions for inclusion.

10 quick fire topics covering a wide range of assistive hardware, software and techniques such as tablet accessibility, phone apps, camera access, voice access, Office Learning Tools, digital resources and more.

Please see the flyer for further information.

Cost

£80+vat for non-members

£60+vat for Transform members Become a Transform member

£40+vat for full Natspec members

Book now using the form below

Bookings are now closed, if you would like to be added to the waiting list please email info@natspec.org.uk

General information

We will send you an e-mail confirmation and joining instructions, including a venue map approximately one week before the event.

Please notify us in writing if you wish to make any amendments to your booking, to make a substitution or a cancellation.

Cancellations can be accepted without charge up to 5 days prior to the event, after this time full event fees will apply, you will be charged if you are using a free place and cancel up to 5 days before.

Natspec reserves the right to cancel or alter the course for reasons beyond its control.