Last Updated on 24th November 2022

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This blog is about Assistive Technology and how it can be used to include children with additional needs in digital spaces.

Our Makaton video will enable children to build a trusted team of adults who they can rely on for help, support and guidance.

INEQE Safeguarding Group values an online world that’s not only safer but one that’s more inclusive to all. That means creating accessible resources and content to empower parents, carers and safeguarding professionals to support the children in their care.

To make our videos more accessible to children and young people with special educational needs, we’re incorporating Makaton, a special language programme that uses signs, symbols and speech to communicate.

Check out Holly’s video below on Trusted Adults, which supports our newest educational resources which you can find here.

Another way to create a more accessible online space is using Assistive Technology.

Technology is an important part of our lives, and as current restrictions have limited physical contact, it’s become even more important to be connected safely.

Despite its importance in our lives, children and young people living with disabilities can face barriers to accessing technology. Tech can help reduce isolation and improve independent access to education and it can also support children and young people living with disabilities and additional needs to communicate.

The Facts:

  • There are over 14.1 million people living with a disability in the UK and 8% of those living with a disability are children.

  • For children with disabilities, the most common impairments are social and behavioural difficulties (45%), learning disabilities (35%) and mental health (31%).
  • Children with disabilities reported that the digital environment can provide “added value” and act as an equaliser as it allows children to find information, communicate, socialise, learn and play.
  • However, access to technology can disproportionality disadvantage children with disabilities due to lack of accessibility features, financial barriers to accessible devices and other technological barriers (such as lack of subtitles or inability to magnify images and text).

Understanding Assistive Technology

Assistive technology refers to anything that helps a person to function independently, allowing them to live a healthy and dignified life.

When it comes to using assistive communications technology on electronic devices there are a number of useful functions.

1. Customising Text

Users on Apple and Android can alter the size of the text on their devices to suit their needs. They can configure the text to look bigger, or make it bold. Users can also customise colours to ensure the screen is accessible to all users.

2. Voice Over

Most smartphones have a voice over or ‘read aloud’ function. Once enabled this means that on-screen text will be audible. This can be useful for messages, articles and emails. Most devices allow you to customise the accent and speed of the reading voice so that the text is audible in a style that suits your needs. 

3. Sound and Vibration Alerts

For those with hearing loss, most devices now come with customisable vibration controls. This means you increase the vibration intensity or rhythm so you can be alerted to call and notifications in a way that’s useful to you.

4. Audio Settings

Audio settings on both Apple and Android devices come with customisable controls. Users can configure settings to switch to ‘mono’ where the left and right speakers will play the same audio or users can also adjust audio via left or right or right channels, which is useful for those with hearing impairments.

5. Hearing and Sound Alerts 

For those who use a hearing device, these can be configured with both Apple and Android devices. If a hearing device is compatible it can be paired with your device to direct audio from your phone or tablet via the hearing device. Android and Apple both offer sound recognition and detection, which can be configured to alert you if the doorbell rings or a baby cries.

While accessibility is important to everyone, so is online safety. To learn how to configure safety and privacy settings on devices and popular platforms, visit our Safety Centre.

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