There are many technological solutions to making work more accessible for disabled people – something BT is very keen on. Their Accessibility Practice team helps a large number of disabled employees overcome obstacles every year. Here is a number of examples:
Tommy – Hearing Impairment
Tommy works for BT Global Services on the telephony support team for one of BT’s major projects. He found that he was struggling to hear what customers were saying on the telephone. Tommy contacted the BT Accessibility Practice to see if there were any headsets that would work with his hearing aids. He was told that there were some models that contained a ‘telecoil’ facility that would work in conjunction with his hearing aids, and that as he was local to the team a demonstration could easily be provided.
Tommy said, “I found the engineer from the Accessibility Practice to be extremely knowledgeable and the demonstration that was provided was really useful, allowing me to identify a solution that worked for me.”
The solution that was chosen was the two ear cushion version of the Plantronics SupraPlus telecoil headset. The telecoil in each earpiece allows sound to be delivered directly into the wearers hearing aids, and a number of alternative ear cushions are available that allow a comfortable fit to be achieved. One type of alternative ear cushion that is available is the “large oval” ear cushion. These have the advantage of being able to fit over hearing aids, which some wearers can find more comfortable, and as an added benefit they also block out more background noise when being used in a noisy environment.
Tommy said, “The SupraPlus telecoil headset has proved very successful and provides much better sound quality on the telephone than my previous standard headset. I have the binaural version with the large oval ear pads, which is comfortable and very good at blocking out the general noise in the office. I wish I’d known this solution was available years ago!”
Peter – Repetitive Strain Injury
Peter works as an agent in one of BT’s major contact centres for BT Retail. He was regularly getting pains in his wrist using his current mouse, and Peter was worried that this was going to get worse – possible leading him to not being able to use his mouse at all. When the BT Accessibility Practice organised a Roadshow visit to his site he took the opportunity to go along with his manager to see if there were any solutions that could help him. From the demonstrations that were given Peter found that a specialist mouse called the ‘E-Quill-AirO2bic’ was the most suitable for him.
Joanna, Peter’s manager said, “When I heard about the Accessibility Practice Roadshow I thought that this was an excellent idea and the perfect opportunity for Peter to try and find a solution to his problem. I was really impressed with the range of solutions that were demonstrated to him and the knowledge that the Accessibility Practice staff had. The Accessibility Practice followed up the demonstration with an email to me detailing exactly what I had to order for Peter and instructions on how to place the order on iBuy – once I had placed the order the mouse arrived very quickly. I was very impressed with the service provided.”
The E-Quill-AirO2bic mouse that Peter chose has been designed to be held with virtually no grip – this means that the user can control the cursor without using the small muscles in the hand, wrist and forearm that ordinary mice can damage.
Peter said, “Since I have started using my new mouse, the pain I was experiencing in my wrists has been greatly reduced. It is amazing how changing such a small thing as your mouse can have such an effect on your day-to-day work. I am really pleased that I visited the Accessibility Practice Roadshow, which enabled me to find this solution.”
Alan – Dexterity
Alan works in Openreach as an office based design engineer. He has Parkinson’s disease, which is progressive neurological condition, the typical symptoms of which include tremor, stiffness and slowness of movement. The result of this is that Alan cannot type very fast, and this can have a significant effect on his work. Alan worked with a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant through the BT Enable service and one of the adjustments that were recommended was to use voice control software to allow him to control his computer and enter data by speaking to his computer as an alternative to using the mouse and keyboard.
The BT Accessibility Practice has a catalogue of standard solutions that are available to order via iBuy. One of the standard software packages is Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional, and Alan was able to order a copy via this route.
Alan said, “Ordering Dragon via the accessibility catalogue in iBuy was very straight forward – all I had to do was follow some simple instructions that were available on the Accessibility Practice intranet site. A few days later I received an email saying that I was now entitled to use Dragon, and it was then available in the software mall, from where it was easily installed.”
Since starting to use Dragon Alan has ordered an upgrade to the latest version of the package. With regards to his use of the package Alan said, “Dragon naturally Speaking has been really useful to me in compensating for my slow typing speed. I wear a headset when using my PC and speak into the microphone on the headset in order to control the PC and enter text into applications. For example, if I want to create a document I just say ‘Start Microsoft Word’ and then start dictating the text into the document –I can dictate much faster than I could type the text on the keyboard. I can then use other commands like “select previous word” and “bold that” to format the document the way I want it. The latest version is a great improvement over the previous one, and as I become more familiar with the advanced features of the program the better I get at using my PC hands-free.”
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