DSA Assessors call for changes in funding streams to cover mobile phones and tablets featuring assistive technology for students with SEN
Showcasing the latest innovations in assistive technology (AT), the Assess 2012 conference hosted by iansyst brought together a body of education industry experts, Disability Support Allowance Assessors and technology product suppliers to share best practice and discuss the latest trends and issues to support disabled students in higher education.
Attracting 100 delegates, the two day event focussed on widening access for the thousands of students who rely on assistive technologies. A greater number of consumer devices such as mobile phones and tablets are incorporating applications such as text-to-speech which has inadvertently created a blurring of boundaries that once distinguished assistive technologies as specialised communications aids. For this reason, the versatility of smart phones and tablets have increasingly become the device of choice amongst higher education students with special educational needs.
For DSA Assessors, this movement toward the integration of assistive technologies in smart phones and tablets as an alternative to laptops and desktop computers means that this technology should ideally be considered for funding support. This was one of the key points raised by DSA Assessors in a bid to ensure that student’s needs are placed first.
In addition to featuring the latest industry developments, the conference delved into issues facing DSA students whilst discussing the associated impact on suppliers and assessors of assistive technologies.
Key note speakers included EA Draffan, Web and Internet Science Researcher at Southampton University, who provided a student’s perspectives on assistive technologies. She also highlighted the blurring of technologies as assistive technologies progressively evolve into standardised features on mobile phones and tablet devices.
Abi James, Head of Product Innovation at iansyst, highlighted trends in the technology landscape for DSA students. Technology such as gesture based interfaces, cloud based tools, social networking and mobile applications, where a large proportion of informal learning takes place, has paved the way for the migration of assistive technologies to be accessed on lighter, more compact devices such as tablets.
Peter White, Radio 4’s Disabilities Correspondent who currently presents ‘Intouch’, a programme for blind and partially sighted people and contributes to consumer affairs programme ‘You and Yours’, gave an inspiring talk on his visual impairment and how life has changed with the advent of assistive technologies.
A delegate at the event, said, “This is a tremendous and invaluable opportunity for people who typically work in an isolated environment to network and share best practice. The event allowed me to stay informed and keep up to date with the latest industry related developments whilst providing me with greater insight into disabilities and how assistive technologies and the mediums that support learning such as phones and tablets are helping people with learning disabilities and visual impairments”.
Ian Litterick, Executive Chairman of iansyst concluded, “We were delighted to host Assess 2012 which has received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. It has provided an excellent opportunity for assessors to meet and learn of new developments and share sustainable assistive technology solutions that will encourage and support higher education students throughout their academic careers and beyond. We look forward to working with DSA stakeholders to evolve the offering for disabled students so that it continues to meet their needs in a rapidly changing environment.”
For further information about iansyst Ltd, please visit the web site: www.iansyst.co.uk or call 01223 420101.
About iansyst Ltd
iansyst has a 28-year history of representing, publishing and distributing assistive technology solutions to the education, public and private sector, to help people with dyslexia and other disabilities. ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 Quality Mark conformant, iansyst delivers contracts to the highest industry standards on every scale, from individuals, schools and academies, to entire local authorities and the Government.
iansyst Ltd has an established customer base throughout the UK and Ireland, including: individuals, teachers and needs assessors from schools, colleges and universities. It also supplies to education and disability officers from local authorities, and HR and occupational health professionals from commercial and public organisations.
iansyst is a registered supplier under the Quality Assurance Framework to provide equipment, services and support under the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) scheme which helps disabled and dyslexic students in further and higher education. www.iansyst.co.uk.