UCanDoIT, which provides IT training for disabled people, was the overall winner in AbilityNet’s Technology4Good Awards, presented to individuals and organisations that have used IT to improve the lives of others.
The charity, which is also a BATA member, won the digital skills category and was also made the people’s winner in a public vote that attracted some 17,500 votes. BATA was among the sponsors of the awards, which are in their 10th year.
“Now we’ve got the strength of the Technology4Good award around us we are coming to get you,” said a jubilant Mary Payne, chief executive of UCanDoIT (pictured right with Patricia Webb)..
Mary, who became vision impaired while working, recalled how she felt when she was able to return to work with the aid of technology. “I can’t explain the euphoria of going back into the workplace,” she said.
UCanDoIT’s 65 instructors provide training to disabled people in their own homes and have delivered over 50,000 lessons over the past 16 years. They cover Greater London, South Wales, parts of Scotland, Merseyside, Manchester, Birmingham, Sussex and Kent.
SpecialEffect, another charity helping disabled people, won the accessibility award for its work in enabling disabled people to play computer games.
“Some of you may be thinking that computer games are a pastime,” said Shaz Hossain, an ambassador for SpecialEffect. “But for some people it may be their only outlet.”
Hossain, who is disabled himself and a fan of the Gran Tourismo game, told the audience at the Technology4Good Awards ceremony about the delight of a football mad boy who was enabled to play football electronically with his father for the first time.
Set up by Dr Mick Donegan, SpecialEffect aims to provide access technology for free to anyone who needs it. The charity’s website helps would-be players from around the world to access games.
SpecialEffect was also voted the winner of winners by members of the audience. Voting was carried out with the aid of glow sticks, a camera and software that registered the amount of light generated for each contestant.
The 250 entrants for the 2014 Technology4Good awards was a record number. Eleven trophies made from recycled electronic hardware were presented at BT’s London headquarters. The company is the lead sponsor for the event.
Winners were announced by wheelchair racer Hannah Cockcroft, while broadcaster Mariela Frostrup conducted a series of illuminating interviews with the successful entrants on stage.
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia the online encyclopaedia, was presented with a judges award by AbilityNet chief executive Nigel Lewis.
Other awards and winners were
BT ingenious award
BuffaloGrid: free solar chargers for mobile phones in developing countries
Where Is My Public Servant (WIMPS): making it easier for young people to contact their local representatives
Portable Eye Examination Kit (PEEK): smartphone eye testing equipment
IT volunteer of the year