The aim of the AACT SEED Project was to document what ICT is recommended by major charities and related organisations, and to bring this information together all in one place so that it can be easily accessed by parents, carers and those suffering from communications disabilities.

The work was supported by the University of Reading’s SEED scheme, and by trusts and foundations who have donated to our Virtual Learning Centre fund.

Our Project Summary, Analysis of Key Findings, Tables of Key Findings and a collection of the Articles and Case Studies used, are available to view in PDF format at the bottom of this page.

The project did its best to contact relevant charities to check that the information given here is correct. Of course things change and we may have missed some exciting developments. If you know of any, or feel we should alter the information given here, we’d be delighted to hear from you via our Contact Us page.

Summary of our findings

No reference to technology

  • 6 of the 27 charities/organisations investigated showed no references or recommendations for technology to support their beneficiaries and stakeholders.
  • These were specialist charities that focus on one specific area of disability or specific aim or mission.
  • However some use Twitter and Facebook accounts to improve communications with their beneficiaries and stakeholders.

Recommendation for Hardware

  • 11 of 27 charities/organisations recommend hardware to support and increase a child’s access to technology.
  • The majority dedicate a section on their website to these, with descriptions and photos of the products.
  • 5 of these recommend hardware specifically for those with communication difficulties.
  • Whilst 6 are more generically focused upon disabilities.

Recommendation for Software

  • Software was more commonly recommended than hardware. With 13 charities/organisations providing software recommendations.
  • Recommendations were presented via a dedicated section on the website, through research articles and in one case through a booklet.
  • 3 of the charities/organisations recommend software specifically for those with communication difficulties.
  • Whilst 10 are more generically focused upon disabilities.

Recommendation for use of AAC to Communicate

  • Some charities/organisations touched mildly on the concept of AAC, whilst others dedicated whole websites and microsites to it.
  • Obtaining assessments and support for AAC devices is provided by AbilityNet.
  • AbilityNet, Find A Voice and EmpTech have resource libraries that allow the borrowing of AAC communication devices.
  • Others, offered resources and references to the research of AAC being used to aid communication.

Case Studies

  • Individual’s case studies and stories of how ICT has made an impact on their lives are used.
  • Case studies focused on using non-specialist technologies in imaginative and innovative ways.
  • Mencap used video clips on their website to provide case studies of their work.

Resource Libraries

  • 6 of the 27 charities/organisations had some form of resource library.
  • 2 of these offered a loan bank service for the purpose of ‘try before you buy’ assistive technologies.
  • 2 offered catalogue and databases full of recommended assistive technologies.
  • There was also a large data library of published material.
  • As well as a library of assistive technology, a library of research projects being undertaken by a wide range of charities and organisations.

IT Projects

  • 11 of the 27 charities/organisations were involved in projects with an IT focus
  • Note that the future of any current projects facilitated by BECTA is unknown
  • The projects focuses included:
    • Making content accessible, including Web 2.0 resources
    • Providing accessibility aids and resources to use
    • Promoting awareness of Assistive Technologies available

Information Sheets & Fact Sheets/Articles

  • 13 of the 27 charities/organisations had information sheets and articles available with an IT focus
  • The majority of these publications were aimed at a generic group of disabilities; 7 were focused specifically on communication difficulties
  • Some of the topics focused on included:
    • IT Equipment/Communication Aids
    • Assistive Technologies o Mobile Technologies
    • Accessibility
    • Virtual Learning Environments
    • Computer Applications
    • Communicating through AAC

Emerging Technologies

  • 17 out of the 27 charities/organisations showed evidence of using some form of emerging technology
  • Becta has an Emerging Technologies for Learning microsite
  • A number of charities have regularly updated, Facebook and twitter accounts to report news etc. to their beneficiaries