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Inclusive innovation [at Google]

PATNOE, Christopher
September 2023

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Presented at the Disability Innovation Summit: Inclusive Interactions conference organised by the GDI hub on 13 Sept 2023.


A short talk highlighting Inclusive Innovation at Google.


Topics highlighted in the approach taken are: AI; "nothing about us without us"; get started on one thing; this is a process.

Products briefly outlined are: automated captions; real time captions (Google Meet) in 14 languages; interlanguage translation (14 languages); on the phone, live transcribe (80 languages); the ability of the phone to inform deaf people of sounds e.g. laughter, appliances going off; and phone live captioning. 

What works

BELL, Diane
September 2023

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Presented at the Disability Innovation Summit: Inclusive Interactions conference organised by the GDI hub on 13 Sept 2023.


Outcomes of the first 5 years of the AT2030 project are summarised including: 15 AT country capacity surveys; 11 new assistive technologies; 31 AT ventures brought to sustainability and 70 journal papers. Funding thus far and for the future is also discussed.

Work to supply hearing aids to those with hearing loss in the global south, particularly in South Africa is outlined. Areas highlighted include: work with suppliers; work to ignite innovation and provide products at scale; work with UNICEF and the procurement catalogue; work with HEARX to provide screening and aid fine tuning via a phone app to enable community health AT service.

Questions from the audience highlight issues surrounding acquiring AT in the emergency/humanitarian setting  

Learning opportunities for blind students - numeracy, logical thinking and accessible artifacts

PODDAR, Roshni
September 2023

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Presented at the Disability Innovation Summit: Inclusive Interactions conference organised by the GDI hub on 13 Sept 2023


The development of SEEDS (Scalable Educational Experiment with Digital Empowerment) by a collaboration of Microsoft Research India, Vision Empower and the Centre of Accessibility in the Global South, IIIT Bangalore, is described. India has over 240,00 children with visual impairment. The system uses feature phones rather than smart phones, IVR (Interactive Voice Response) - to enable the child to be rung back and HEXIS for braille. The use, piloting and challenges of the system are briefly outlined.

Breaking communication barrier in Ghana using Google’s Project Relate App

AYOKA, Gifty
September 2023

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Presented at the Disability Innovation Summit: Inclusive Interactions conference organised by the GDI hub on 13 Sept 2023.


A short presentation highlighting the difficulties of people with communication difficulties and the role and importance of speach and language therapists and of Google's Project Relate app. The app leverages machine learning to aid individuals with non standard speach in real time. The importance of local language and cultural diversity is stressed.  

Systems and action to advance disability inclusive financial services in the UK

WARDROP, Pollyanna
September 2023

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Presented at the Disability Innovation Summit: Inclusive Interactions conference organised by the GDI hub on 13 Sept 2023.


The importance of access to financial services and the challenges and work towards solutions are briefly overviewed with particular reference to innovation in the Nationwide Building Society in the UK.

Priorities identified for long term decision making concerned with services for people with disabilities were people with learning disabilities/neurodivergence/dementia, deaf people and the customer experience. The Nationwide introduced British Sgn Language (BSL) virtual interpretation for deaf people using a third party interpreter to enable independent banking. Difficulties encountered concerning risk and governance are highlighted.  Lessons learned and other progress e.g. provision of letters in BSL are briefly mentioned.

Disability inclusive financial services

DECKER, Daniella
September 2023

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Presented at the Disability Innovation Summit: Inclusive Interactions conference organised by the GDI hub on 13 Sept 2023.


A short presentation concerning the work of the International Finance Corporation and financial services in general towards inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities. 

Topics covered include: disability commitments; expansion of the disability economy; the European Accessibility Act; generating awareness in financial services providers; links with partnership companies; Cephable - a company introducing use of ATMs with facial expressions; work of large banks and also of small ones in Columbia and India; and momentum towards change and the challenges associated with it. 

Estimating need and coverage for five priority assistive products: a systematic review of global population-based research

BOGGS, Dorothy
KULAR, Ariana
BHOT, William
HOLLOWAY, Catherine
January 2022

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Assistive technology (AT) includes assistive products (APs) and related services that can improve health and well-being, enable increased independence and foster participation for people with functional difficulties, including older adults and people with impairments or chronic health conditions. This paper uses the umbrella term ‘functional difficulty’ (FD) to refer to all of these groups. This systematic review was undertaken to identify studies presenting population-based estimates of need and coverage for five APs (hearing aids, limb prostheses, wheelchairs, glasses and personal digital assistants) grouped by four functional domains (hearing, mobility, vision and cognition).


BMJ Glob Health. 2022; 7(1): e007662

doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2021-007662

Emergent Disability voices on Social Media during COVID -19 times


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Persons with disabilities are invisible and almost silent in the Indian media. This paper examines the emergence of articulate expressions of persons with disabilities (pwd) in the social media over the months March to June 2020 during COVID Lockdown. While technology has been seen as a great leveller for persons with disabilities, the digital divide, however, remains very real for masses of disabled persons, whereby it is largely the educated middle class who have access to internet facilities and presence on social media. This paper draws from observation and analysis of posts on Facebook by different categories of persons with disabilities. There appear to be a number of discourses emerging and imageries running almost parallel. Accessibility and support appear to be very important issues especially in terms of access to domestic workers, regular medical checkups, and procuring daily provisions as well as access to online teaching. On the other hand, little concern is being paid to the huge humanitarian crisis of returnee workers from cities to villages. Interestingly, disabled persons appeared more connected, participating in discussions and Webinars and voicing out their experiences with greater clarity and also analysing the COVID situation through Disability Studies (DS) perspectives.

An inclusive digital economy for people with disabilities

February 2021

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The objective of this publication is to increase awareness of the impact of a digital world of work on people with disabilities and identify actions needed to shape a future of work in a more disability-inclusive way.


Chapters include:

  • Current work situation of people with disabilities
  • Digitalisation: a trend of the future of work
  • A new world of work scenario for people with disabilities
  • Main levers for the digital inclusion of people with disabilities at work
  • A roadmap for an inclusive digital economy

Social media and disability advocacy organizations: caught between hopes and realities

COCQ, Coppélie

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This article examines the role of advocacy organizations and their use of social media within the field of disability in Sweden. How do the organizations negotiate digital media, and what are the (intentional or unintentional) consequences related to the use of social media? With focus on the representatives of advocacy organizations, we study how they reflect and act in order to balance various motives, and what challenges and ambiguities that arise. On one hand, there is a perceived need to be online and communicate with members and the surrounding society. On the other hand, digital communication induces a divide between those who have the resources to take part in such communication, and those who do not – in terms of digital competence, economy, age, cognitive abilities, technical equipment and digital connection. The heterogeneity of resources and target groups inevitably challenges both the ideals of inclusion and intentions of advocacy organizations.

The mobile disability gap report 2020

December 2020

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As we move towards a more digital society, it is critical that digital technologies are inclusive of everyone, including persons with disabilities. However, research conducted by the GSMA Assistive Tech programme suggests that a disability gap exists in mobile access and use.

Driving greater inclusion of persons with disabilities requires data and evidence to inform actions from multiple stakeholders. This report looks to understand the digital divide experienced by persons with disabilities, identify existing barriers to digital inclusion and define strategies and actions to close the mobile disability.

This report uses data from the GSMA Intelligence Consumer Survey 2019 to explore the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities in eight LMICs: Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan and Uganda. This report looks at key stages and milestones in the journey to mobile internet use that can pose barriers to regular and diverse mobile use

Look to Speak helps people communicate with their eyes

CAVE, Richard
December 2020

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A speach and language therapist talks about "Look to Speak", an Android app which enables people to use their eyes to select pre-written phrases on mobile devices and have them spoken aloud. A text and video guide are available.

Impact of the FindMyApps program on people with mild cognitive impairment or dementia and their caregivers; an exploratory pilot randomised controlled trial

NEAL, David P
BROEDER, Caroline
DRÖES, Rose-Marie

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FindMyApps is a web-based selection-tool and errorless learning training program to help people with mild dementia/Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and caregivers find user-friendly apps. In preparation of a definitive trial, the impact and feasibility of the FindMyApps intervention on self-management and engagement in meaningful activities, including social participation, was explored.


Materials and methods

An exploratory pilot randomised controlled trial (trial registration approval number: NL7210) with pre/post measurements was conducted with community-dwelling people with mild dementia/MCI and their caregivers (n = 59) in the Netherlands. Dyads in the experimental group (n = 28) received training to use the tablet and FindMyApps, and the errorless learning method was taught to their caregivers. Control group dyads (n = 31) received a tablet (without FindMyApps), instructions on tablet-use and links to dementia-friendly apps. Validated instruments were used to assess person with dementia’s self-management, meaningful activities and social participation, caregiver’s sense of competence and both their quality of life.


Results and conclusions

No statistical significant group differences on the outcomes were found. Small to moderate effect-sizes in favour of the FindMyApps group were found for self-management and social participation. Caregivers tended to have more positive care experiences. Subgroup analyses showed that people older than 70 benefitted more from FindMyApps regarding self-management and higher educated people benefitted more regarding social participation. FindMyApps is feasible for the target group and may have potential to improve self-management and social participation. For a future definitive effectiveness trial a larger sample size is recommended, as well as taking into account the possible impact of education and age.

Product Narrative: Digital Assistive Technology. A market landscape and strategic approach to increasing access to digital assistive technology in low- and middle- income countries

SAVAGE, Margaret
LIAO, Cynthia
BOYER, Jeffrey
BHATNAGAR, Tigmanshu
PERRY, Katherine
BARAJAS, Felipe Ramos
GOEDDE, Barbara
November 2020

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This document is the final in a series of in-depth analyses that identify key barriers and promising market interventions. The previous four documents focused on wheelchairs, hearings aids, prostheses, and eyeglasses.

The report provides market landscapes of 3 areas of digital AT: mobile phones; screen readers; and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices.

A common set of recommendations focused on improving access emerged from the individual product landscapes:

  • Develop and adopt policies, including legislation, regulations, minimum product standards, and guidelines to support accessibility and uptake of digital AT at the global and country levels.
  • Support governments of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to increase awareness of digital AT by including digital assistive products such as smartphones and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices on national assistive product lists.
  • Support innovative financing schemes or negotiate pricing agreements to reduce the cost of digital AT to end users.
  • Increase availability of training programmes for users, suppliers, and service providers on the availability of digital AT and digital literacy skills.

Inclusion and independence: The impact of mobile technology on the lives of persons with disabilities in Kenya and Bangladesh

JAHAN, Nusrat
MUTUKU, Charles Musungu
RAHMAN, Naemur
AUSTIN, Victoria
HOLLOWAY, Catherine
November 2020

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Globally, mobile technology plays a significant role connecting and supporting people with disabilities. However, there has been limited research focused on understanding the impact of mobile technology in the lives of persons with disabilities in low or middle- income countries. This paper presents the findings of a participatory photovoice study looking at the role that mobile phones play in the daily lives of 16 persons with disabilities in Kenya and Bangladesh. Participants used a combination of pictures and voice recordings to capture their own stories and illustrate the impact that mobile phone use has on their lives. Through thematic analysis, we categorized the benefits of mobile phones captured by participants as 1) Improved social connection; 2) Increased independence and 3) Access to opportunities. While mobile phones are ubiquitously used for communication, for persons with disabilities they become essential assistive technologies that bridge barriers to opportunities which are not accessible otherwise. Our paper adds evidence to the need for mobile phones for persons with disabilities to enable communication and connectivity in support of development.


2020 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference

DOI: 10.1109/GHTC46280.2020

Bridging the Divide: Exploring the use of digital and physical technology to aid mobility impaired people living in an informal setlement

XIN, Long
WETENDI, Wycliffe Ambeyi
AUSTIN, Victoria
HOLLOWAY, Catherine
October 2020

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Traditional assistive products such as wheelchairs are essential to enable people to travel. Wheelchairs are considered a Human Right. However, they are difficult to access. On the other hand, mobile phones are becoming ubiquitous and are increasingly seen as an assistive technology. Should therefore a mobile phone be considered a Human Right? To help understand the role of the mobile phone in contrast of a more traditional assistive technology – the wheelchair, we conducted contextual interviews with eight mobility impaired people who live in Kibera, a large informal settlement in Nairobi. Our findings show mobile phones act as an accessibility bridge when physical accessibility becomes too challenging. We explore our findings from two perspective – human infrastructure and interdependence, contributing an understanding of the role supported interactions play in enabling both the wheelchair and the mobile phone to be used. This further demonstrates the critical nature of designing for context and understanding the social fabric that characterizes informal settlements. It is this social fabric which enables the technology to be useable.


ASSETS '20: Proceedings of the 22nd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility October 2020 Article No.: 50 Pages 1–13

Measure It Super Simple (MISS) activity tracker: (re)design of a user-friendly interface and evaluation of experiences in daily life

BEEKMAN, Emmylou

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The purposes of this study were, first, to (re)design the user-interface of the activity tracker known as the MOX with the help of input from elderly individuals living independently and, second, to assess the use of and experiences with the adapted Measure It Super Simple (MISS) activity tracker in daily life.



The double diamond method, which was used to (re)design the user-interface, consists of four phases: discover, define, develop, and deliver. As a departure point, this study used a list of general design requirements that facilitate the development of technology for the elderly. Usage and experiences were assessed through interviews after elderly individuals had used the activity tracker for 2 weeks.



In co-creation with thirty-five elderly individuals (65 to 89-years-old) the design, feedback system, and application were further developed into a user-friendly interface: the Measure It Super Simple (MISS) activity. Twenty-eight elderly individuals (65 to 78-years-old) reported that they found the MISS activity easy to use, needed limited help when setting the tracker up, and required limited assistance when using it during their daily lives.



This study offers a generic structured methodology and a list of design requirements to adapt the interface of an existing activity tracker consistent with the skills and needs of the elderly. The MISS activity seemed to be successfully (re)designed, like the elderly who participated in this pilot study reported that anyone should be able to use it.

Smartphone apps for transportation by people with intellectual disabilities: are they really helpful in improving their mobility?


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The paper undertakes a critical assessment of the use of smartphone apps for transportation by people with intellectual disabilities. Although apps for transportation such as Uber and Careem have been developed to assist people with disabilities and have numerous benefits, people with intellectual disabilities tend to encounter their own set of difficulties in accessing these apps.


Materials and method

This paper presents the research findings drawn from a focus group discussion conducted with nine people with moderate to mild intellectual disabilities in Riyadh, by using a qualitative study focussed on the interpretative paradigm.



From the interview findings, some relevant themes were identified. These were: transportation issues encountered by people with intellectual disabilities, the extent and manner of the use of smartphone apps for transportation, the benefits enjoyed by those individuals in using smartphone apps for transportation and the difficulties encountered by them.



The paper also discusses the implications for practice and presents some useful recommendations, including the need for family support and government assistance.

A glimpse into smartphone screen reader use among blind teenagers in rural Nepal

SANKHI, Prakash
SANDNES, Frode Eika

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Access to appropriate assistive technology is a challenge worldwide and especially in low GDP-per-capita countries. Nepal is one example of a country with several coinciding challenges: some claim having a high rate of blindness in the general population, a low-GDP-per capita and some studies claim it has a low literacy rate, especially in rural areas. Without appropriate assistive technology, some disabled youth may not get full access to education.



To gain insight into assistive technology use in rural Nepal, five blind teenagers in a mixed secondary school with disabled and non-disabled students in rural Nepal were interviewed about their daily smartphone use.



The results show that all the participants used screen readers on donated smartphones. None of the participants had received formal training in using smartphone screen readers and therefore lacked knowledge about basic and essential operational aspects of the devices as well as misguided expectations about the technology.



One implication of the findings is that smartphone accessibility features training material needs to be made easily available to schools and all disabled youth worldwide, as smartphones are increasingly becoming available in low-income remote regions with low literacy rates. The built-in accessibility features of smartphones promise disabled youth a non-stigmatizing platform for social participation and access to the information society.