AbilityNet’s Tech4Good celebrates award winners


The AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards winners have been named at a glittering ceremony at the BT Centre in London.

The annual awards, organised by UK charity AbilityNet and sponsored by communications giant British Telecom (BT), are now in their seventh year. They recognise individuals, charities and businesses across the UK that use the power of technology to improve people’s lives.

There were 11 awards in total — eight category winners and a Special Award all decided on by a panel of judges, a People’s Award decided on by the public and a Winner of Winners Award, chosen from among the category winners.

This year’s Special Award went to Maggie Philbin OBE, star of the BBC’s legendary technology show ‘Tomorrow’s World’ for her contribution to technology, while C the Signs, a decision support tool that enables GPs to identify early signs of cancer, won the People’s Award.

Among the eight category winners was Dyslexic Aid, which won the BT Young Pioneer Award for its Year 10 designers, Kiera McKillop and Sinead McKeown from Killian’s College in Northern Ireland.

Sean Connolly, who teaches the two girls, said:

Their achievement shows other young people how digital technology can be used to solve everyday problems in a fun and exciting way. And, it also shows that girls are just as good as boys, when it comes to using technology to help others.

Researching their prototype, the girls worked closely with a group of dyslexic children and their special educational needs coordinator, finding out what support and programmes were already out there. To help them with the programming using Python, they spoke to experts at the University of Ulster in Jordan’s Town. The British Dyslexic Association also helped them understand the best approaches for teaching pupils with dyslexia.

The Dyslexic Aid brings together all this research. It creates a multi-sensory learning environment stimulating a person’s different senses to help them learn. The aid is designed to help dyslexic pupils better understand the alphabet, write letters and spell basic words.

After analysing their own data and data from other dyslexia organisations, they designed and made a working prototype using a Raspberry Pi computer and a Sense Hat — an add-on board, that includes a range of different sensors and flashing LED lights. The innovative device allows users to see letters, hear them, write them and say them.

At the moment, the Dyslexic Aid remains a prototype awaiting further development to make it more useable and comfortable to hold and suitable for different age groups. Its designers are working hard to make this a reality.

Sky Badger, an innovative online charity connecting the families of disabled children, scooped the BT Connected Society Award and the Winner of Winners Award.

It researches new charities, services and opportunities and tells families about them on its website, Twitter feed, Facebook page, YouTube video channel and via a confidential helpdesk. It is available for free for all and at the click of a button 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Founded in 2011 by four mothers, three of whose children are disabled, two of them with life limiting conditions, it knows from first-hand experience the importance of finding the right help at the right time. Over the last five years it has supported over 1.02 million disabled children and their families and established a powerful online presence with 981,958 visitors to its website and over 17,470 fans and followers on social media.

AbilityNet Head of Marketing and Communications, Mark Walker said:

This year we saw over 200 high-quality entries that showcase how people are using technology for good. As always, judging the awards was a very tough task, with many worthy entries just missing on awards. And so we are delighted to announce these extremely worthy winners of the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2017.

Congratulations to each and every one of them for their hard work and success. And commiserations to those who didn’t win — they were all great entries, worthy of an award. These awards celebrate their success and share their stories to inspire others, whilst recognising all entrants’ hard work and creativity.

Each winner has truly used their passion for digital technology to change the lives of other people. We now look forward to seeing how our winners and the other entrants progress in future as they go on to shape the world and help others using digital technology.

The remaining six category winners are:

AbilityNet Accessibility Award: Bristol Braille Technology

Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award: Praekelt.org

Community Impact Award: Chatterbox

Digital Health Award: Fizzyo

Digital Skills Award: FabFarm

Tech Volunteer of the Year Award: Simon Cook


About Contributors

Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

1 Comment

  1. Dr. Edwin Arenas on

    Special education teachers should be cross- trained more in other specialties in education such as art, music, and physical education at least on a basic level to be able to engage their special students in some sort of artistic, musical, and physical activities to help increase their learning and self-expression.

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