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Assistive Technology: Innovation outpaces availability

18 April 2018

The biggest challenge facing the assistive technology sector is ensuring service users are getting the full benefits of the latest innovations.

Delegates at The Assistive Technology Conference heard how unprecedented developments in everything from prosthetics to artificial intelligence (AI) can help disabled people find new careers, stay in work and live independent lives.

“AT is a strength in this country and there are some great products on show in the exhibition area today,” said conference chair John Lamb, executive director of the British Assistive Technology Association.

“I am amazed at how quickly technologies such as AI are developing.”

Yet despite the increasing affordability and availability of AT, many disabled people and employers remain unaware of the wide variety of support on offer. The rapid pace of technological development in recent years also presents a significant challenge.

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Assistive Technology Conference 2018 will highlight solutions to workplace disability challenges

16 April 2018

“Without assistive technology … I would not be able to compete in the job market and therefore would not be in employment.”Tom, software developer

The UK employment rate is at near record levels. But for 4.6 million disabled people, a lack of support is stopping them from participating in the labour market and contributing to the economy. As well as preventing individuals from finding fulfilling work and leading independent lives, these levels of economic inactivity and wasted potential costs the UK an estimated £100bn a year.

What more can be done to fulfil the government’s pledge to get one million more disabled people into work in the next ten years and help everyone to “thrive in the workplace”?

The Assistive Technology Conference 2018 will explore potential solutions to the many workplace challenges faced by disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.

The most authoritative voices in disability access will discuss how new innovations are removing barriers to employment and debate what more can be done to improve access to the latest software and technology.

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Blog: FGM destroys lives and communities

11 April 2018

Author and sociologist Hilary Burrage explains how only a zero tolerance approach can bring an end to the damaging practice of FGM.

Some 200 million women and girls alive today are thought to have undergone, or be at significant risk of, female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that has no benefits and causes physical, psychological and socio-economic harm to victims (survivors), their families and their communities.

There is a global epidemic of FGM, a public health challenge in many parts of the world which demands zero tolerance of this harmful traditional practice stretching back millennia.

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Partnership working is key to combatting sexual harassment in higher education

11 April 2018

In 2016, Universities UK (UUK) published the Changing the Culture taskforce report, with recommendations on dealing with sexual harassment for universities to embed within their policies and processes.

However, earlier this month a national student survey by Revolt Sexual Assault revealed that this is still a significant issue, with findings that 70% of female students have experienced sexual harassment, and just under 1 in 10 (8%) have been raped, at university. The higher education sector has been criticised for being complacent on this issue.

Delegates attended Salford Professional Development’s Combatting Sexual Harassment in Higher Education conference to gain a better understanding of the risks that students face, the legal responsibilities of institutions in relation to handling complaints and supporting victims, and to share best practice to address this problem.

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Blog: How assistive technology could close the employment gap

11 April 2018

John Lamb, executive director of the British Assistive Technology Association, explains how the latest innovations are helping more disabled people into work.

Assistive technology is a critical element in enabling more disabled people to get into work and to close the long-standing employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people.

The British Assistive Technology Association welcomes last year’s green paper on Work, Health and Disability and believes much more could be done to harness the enabling power of assistive technology than at present.

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Blog: Ending the need for “me too” in our universities

11 April 2018

Carys Page, wellbeing project officer at Loughborough University, explains how the higher education sector is tackling sexual abuse on campus.

In the last twelve months, we have seen sexual harassment and sexual violence creep up the worldwide agenda. From the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, to the outrage in the UK parliament regarding the alleged harassment of staff members, to the trial and sentencing of former USA gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar the world has undoubtedly changed in its attitudes towards sexual violence. This has also been reflected within UK universities and in their attitudes towards harassment and violence occurring on campuses.

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Five tips for procurement success

11 April 2018

Every year in the UK, public sector organisations spend a combined £240 billion procuring goods and services. Under growing financial pressure and increased scrutiny over budgets, it has never been more important for local councils, schools and NHS trusts to make smarter spending decisions.

Delegates from across the sector attended the Public Procurement and Commissioning Conference to share examples of best practice and hear from leading experts on how to secure the very best deals.

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Safeguarding concerns a “wake-up call” for charity sector

11 April 2018

The voluntary sector must meet its current challenges head on and provide greater transparency in order to retain public trusts, delegates at the Charity Regulation Conference were told.

The event coincided with a turbulent time for the charity sector, with recent revelations raising serious concerns about safeguarding standards at a number of high profile organisations.

“This is a really important conference today, and we must view it in the context of what is happening in the voluntary sector,” said event chair Chris Sherwood, chief executive officer of Relate.

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Investing in procurement skills will deliver long term savings

11 April 2018

Short term savings from cutting the number of experienced procurement professionals will come back to haunt the public sector in the long run, experts have warned.

The importance of employing, investing in and upskilling a dedicated procurement workforce was one of the key themes of the Public Procurement and Commissioning Conference organised this week by Salford Professional Development.

The UK public sector spends more than £240 billion procuring goods and services each year, underling the importance of securing the best deals and delivering value for money on behalf of taxpayers. But as budget restrictions have put pressure on organisations to cut staff, much of the procurement expertise in the workplace has been lost in recent years.

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Blog: A shortage of social housing is directly contributing to our homelessness crisis

11 April 2018

Paul Dennett, Mayor of Salford and the portfolio holder for housing, planning and homelessness on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, explains how increasing the supply of social housing could solve the homelessness crisis.

It is my sincerely held belief that social and council housing is the only long-term solution to our housing crisis, and that the failure of successive governments to invest adequately in financing social and council housing is the biggest single reason for the spreading homelessness crisis today.

By a conventional neoliberal understanding, the housing market is a simple equation measuring up supply and demand. By this rationale, housing is expensive because there is not enough of it: simply building units, any units, is the way forward.

But this strategy has never worked in practice. The fastest growth of housing stock in British history was seen in the 1930s, with hundreds of thousands of new homes built each year for almost a decade.

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