This year’s exciting event at the BBC was a tremendous success with an international flavour. It was aimed at people who use assistive technology in their daily lives and there was an exciting array of guest speakers. Thanks to Paul Bepey, the organiser and Access Technology Manager/Assistive Technology Lead at the BBC, we were invited to speak and bring along some international guests.
We knew we were in for a treat when the event was opened by the wonderful Peter White of the BBC. Peter is the BBC’s Disability Affairs Correspondent and has been broadcasting since 1974. Peter explained how he was forced into using technology but now if firmly a confirmed ‘techie’. Peter explained that the main benefit for him was to be able to collaborate effectively using these technologies. More people are now understanding that accessibility and technology now really equals productivity and that we can all benefit from aspects of technology.
The theme throughout the event was how life changing technology can be when it meets a ‘need’, from free on board mobile technologies to super high tech tablets, this technology is there to ‘make a difference’. There was an super enlightening presentation by Lena Haque, on Neurodiversity and some wonderful products demonstrated by Human Ware, Baum, Genius within, RNIB, and Hypertech.
The theme of technology enabling change was highly evident, when listening to our invited guests whom we were lucky enough to introduce; Mrs Maggie Moore, the wife of the British Ambassador to Turkey, Nurdeniz Tuncer, a leading lawyer in Turkey and Mr Ali lhan, Parliamentarian and disability equality advisor to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
Destek’s Andrea Kennedy was invited to speak about the work Destek are doing internationally but we felt that showing how this work has made a difference to people’s lives was more important, than giving a talk ‘About Us’!
We were right! The feedback we received after the event was amazingly positive. Maggie Moore explained how Destek has supported the charity with technology advice and more and how they had benefited from this support. Maggie and Nurdeniz, told the audience of how they communicated through technology to establish Turkeys first ever Guide Dog Association. Without these simple technology’s (both are firmly Apple fans) and means of communications, this association may have taken far longer to start up. Rehberopekler Dernegi has now introduced Guide dogs to a country that has never before seen a working dog. Visually impaired persons in Turkey will soon be able apply for a guide dog to aid them with independence in using public transportation, navigating buildings and generally improving social inclusion. This has a ripple effect on changing the country’s perception toward disability and all three speakers are ambassadors for change in Turkey. Both Maggie, Nurdeniz and Ali are featured in news programs and newspaper articles continually and Maggie’s Dog, Star is a sensation in Turkey. These three have a tremendous challenge ahead of them and Destek will be there to support them all the way!
An ardent supporter, Mr Ali Lhan, has been working with the Grand Assembly in Turkey for many years and supports Rehberopekler Dernegi. Ali spoke about the need for countries to share ‘best practice’ and urged the technology community, to invest in internationalisation and provide Turkish language support. Ali has a long road to travel and intends to ensure parliament and his political party include people with disabilities in all that they do. Without the support of people like Ali, Turkeys path to disability equality would be fraught with problems and misunderstandings. We wish our visitors the very best success in the coming years.