BT's newsletter for healthcare professionals | January 2018 | View the online version

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Welcome

Happy New Year! Welcome back to Connections and our first edition of 2018.
We're starting the year with a look at how advances in voice technology has seen an increase in moving more toward inclusion for everyone. If Santa brought you an Amazon Echo device, you won't want to miss our thoughts on how talking to Alexa can be a game-changer.

Though the year has just begun, we're already excited for the spring when the events season gets into full swing. Check out our handy guide covering the types of exhibitions we'll be attending, who they're best for, what you can expect and of course, when they're happening.

We always enjoy getting out on the road. It's a great opportunity for us to meet, and for you to see and handle our products. If you have any questions or feedback on our services, bring them with you - we love a good chat!

A little short on time? Just click and go:

Including You: BT's guide to help you communicate

Our 'Including You' guide has been updated and is now bigger and better than ever. Download a PDF or eBook >

Including You: BT's guide to help you communicate

Events: Where you'll find us in 2018

Our diary is already filling up with exciting events for this year. Face-to-face exhibitions are a great way for people to come along and chat with us about BT products and services that they may be interested in.

And these days out are an excellent alternative for anyone who doesn't have access to the internet, or who doesn't use email. It's another way to find out what's available to help make living with a disability a little easier.

It's worth remembering that if you can't look at our products online, you can always pop along to one of our Try Before You Buy centres up and down the country.

There you'll find friendly experts who are on standby to help you find and have a play with the equipment that's the best fit for you or someone you care for. You can even watch one or two of our centres in action.

With so much coming up, here's a handy guide to which events we'll be attending in 2018.

April 2018: DEAFvibe, Stoke-on-Trent

Next Genteration TextDeafvibe events offer a wealth of information and equipment demonstrations from local and national organisations, all experts in supporting deaf, hard of hearing, deafened and deafblind people as well as their families, carers, friends and professionals.

We'll be talking about Next Generation Text (NGT), BT's texting service for hearing and speech-impaired people, our range of amplified phones and what's on offer from BT Mobile.

Website: http://www.deafvibe.co.uk

25–26 April 2018: Naidex, Birmingham

Broadband extender kitThe annual Naidex show is the largest UK exhibition and conference of its kind and a hugely popular calendar fixture. More than 250 exhibitors gather to showcase a comprehensive range of products and services that can help people to live more independently.

We'll be there to chat to visitors about our latest phones and gadgets that are designed to help people maintain stay as self-sufficient as possible and keep connected with their friends and families. And we'll be speaking about how BT Call Protect can help stamp out nuisance calls.

Website: http://www.naidex.co.uk

May 2018: See & Hear, Shropshire

Big button phoneMore than 800 people came along to the annual See & Hear event last year to discover more about the technology and support available to help people with sensory impairment.

At the BT stand you'll find our products and services that can primarily help with sight and vision, but typically we'll cover a broad range of disabilities. This year we're looking forward to chatting about how we can help stop nuisance calls with both phones and our network service, BT Call Protect. And we'll also show visitors how easy it is to download and get started with Next Generation Text (NGT).

On display will be our phones with bigger buttons. And, for the first time at this event, we will be demonstrating ZoneV, a great product that can make it easier for people with diminishing vision to keep on using smartphones.

Website: http://www.sightlossshropshire.org.uk

8-9 June 2018: The Alzheimer's Show, London

Canary careEvery year you'll find us at the hugely inspiring Alzheimer's Show. Monitoring is always a hot topic so we'll be talking about services such as Canary Care, how to stop unwanted calls (and the scams that come with it), simple to use phones, ways to help someone you care about stop making involuntary nuisance calls as well as BT's power of attorney service.

Website: http://alzheimersshow.co.uk

July 2018: Sight Village, Birmingham

Big button cordless phoneSight Village has been described as the premier exhibition for blind and partially-sighted people in the UK. As the names suggests, it's a very vision impairment focused event. We'll be there with our Big Button phones and will demonstrate the inbuilt features such as messaging services and two-way recording. Of course, we're on hand to answer any questions visitors may have about any of our products and services.

Website: http://www.qac.ac.uk/exhibitions.htm

15 July 2018: Disability Awareness Day (DAD), Warrington

The DAD show is one of the world's largest events that promotes a can-do culture focussing on what people living with disability can achieve throughout life and work. It's always a great day out and as it's held outdoors (in a huge tented village) if the sun comes out, this event really comes into its own.

We find that every aspect of our portfolio is popular, but attention on stopping unwanted calls is very high.

Website: https://www.disabilityawarenessday.org.uk

September 2018: Citizens Advice Annual (CAN) Conference, (venue to be announced)

The yearly CAN fixture is a flagship event for people across the organisation to come together. It's a fantastic opportunity for us to go along and talk about BT services for carer support, especially for older people and those managing on a budget. We'll be talking about BT Basic, our service that helps people who are on a low income stay in contact.

Website: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk

November 2018: Sensory Solutions Fair, Plymouth

The Sensory Solutions Fair showcases the latest assistive technology and support available to help people with sensory loss. Popular taking points at this show are BT's Call Protect service, the widely liked BT Big Button phones, the BT 4600 Advanced Call Blocker and BT Home Phone Saver.

Website: https://www.improvinglivesplymouth.org.uk

15 November 2018: Kidz to Adultz North, Manchester

Video baby monitorThe Kidz to Adultz show is one of the largest, free UK exhibitions dedicated to children and young adults with disabilities and additional needs, their families, carers and the professionals who support them.

At this event, screening devices like the BT Video Baby Monitor 6000 are always popular as are our phones with Do Not Disturb and call blocking features.

Website: http://www.kidzexhibitions.co.uk/kidz-north

Easy to use phones

BT has developed a great range of phones with features which make them especially easy to use.

BT's range of inclusive products >

BT Big Button phone

Voice recognition: Personal assistants empowering people with disabilities

Ever since Captain Kirk first talked to the computer aboard the Starship Enterprise, voice activated device management has been the promise of the future.

And it looks like that future is now here, especially if you're a smart-home enthusiast. But don't worry if you're not there yet, we've got some observations that may whet your whistle.

Techshare Pro 2017Back in November we went along to the first ever TechShare Pro conference, hosted by AbilityNet and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). Voice interfaces, artificial intelligence (AI) and accessibility was high on the agenda.

We were particularly interested in the rise of devices that allow people to manage their home and lifestyle by speech only and no physical interaction.

Devices like Amazon's Echo, which has long been a favourite of smart-home enthusiasts. But just how useful is it for people with disabilities? Robin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet, says it has the potential to be a game-changer.

Robin describes virtual assistants as the ‘pinnacle of simplicity.' People are going to be able to do things more easily and accessibly because AI requires it to be so.

“If mobile phone apps made things cleaner and simpler than a full desktop experience, personal assistants like Alexa are another step ahead.

You don't need to physically open your phone or computer to do things. Now you can just ask your assistant, without lifting a finger, to do stuff for you. If you layer on top of that the ability to do your online banking and checking when the next bus is coming, then life just got a whole lot easier.

Artificial intelligence has huge potential to increase the accessibility of all these things, for people who find conventional channels more challenging than others.”

Robin, who is blind, lists some of his favourite Echo functions as getting news, facts, jokes, timers and alarms, radio broadcasts and podcasts, and listening to books. He's also hooked up his Echo devices to control appliances around the home, for instance to turn lamps on and off – as well as adjusting the lighting.

Autism and Alexa

Alexa Talking to Alexa can feel quite immersive, like you're having a real conversation. But personal assistants don't understand sarcasm (yet) and do like logic, which can make them hugely helpful for people with neuro-diverse conditions like autism.

Assistants like Alexa or Apple's Siri can make communicating very straightforward for someone on the autism spectrum. They don't have to contend with trying to understand nuanced body language, facial expressions, insinuation, moods or emotion.

“There have been stories about children with autism who have formed in-depth relationships with their personal assistants. It's because the assistant doesn't make any demands on them, they are not inconsistent in their responses,” says Robin.

It's important to remember that autism is a complex disorder and while autistic people share certain difficulties, everyone's experience will be different.

You can read Robin's blogs at AbilityNet and see him demonstrating just how useful Alexa can be in a short YouTube video. Robin also hosts the daily Dot to Dot podcast where he shares top tips and skills for the Amazon Echo. It's free to download from iTunes.

Not quite ready for Alexa? Have a look at a light-hearted sketch from Saturday Night Live, who imagine a model specifically designed for the greatest generation.

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Next Generation Text (NGT)

Can't hear or speak to other people on the phone? Visit ngts.org.uk to find out how NGT Lite and your computer, tablet or smartphone can help you communicate.

Next Generation Text

And finally…

Many of us will spend some time this January helping someone get to grips with a new gadget they got for Christmas. And while tech gifts can make life easier, initially there can be some frustration trying make them work the way you want.

For anyone who needs a helping hand, visit Including You for some clear and simple guidance on how to make devices easier to use for a variety of disabilities.

There's heaps of really helpful advice including how to personalise mobiles and tablets, and instructions on things like slowing down the mouse, changing text size and enlarging the pointer on a computer.

There's also some great tips on how voice recognition can be used to talk to devices, and can also be used as an alternative to a keyboard. This can be particularly useful for people with physical disabilities who often find typing difficult, painful or impossible.

That's just a taste, head over to mcmy.bt.com for plenty more.

And with that, I'll say goodbye until next month.

All the best


Dave Barrett
Senior Inclusion and Accessibility Manager, BT Consumer
Follow me on Twitter @DKBarrett

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