The winners of the seventh AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards have been announced at at BT Centre, London.
I was privileged to co-host Tech4Good Awards for the third year running and to meet such a diverse range of amazing people whose innovations directly benefit individuals as well as larger communities.
These are the only awards that celebrate the use of digital technology to improve other people’s lives in the UK, and now also in Sub-Saharan Africa with the addition of a new category sponsored by Comic Relief – Tech4Good for Africa.
The finalists for this year’s Awards included 32 amazing businesses, charities and individuals who use digital technology to make the world a better place. Among the winners were school pupils Kiera McKillop and Sinead McKeown, who won the BT Young Pioneer Award for creating the Dyslexic Aid, which helps children who are struggling to learn because of dyslexia.
And well done to all those 38,000 people who voted in the Tech4Good People’s Award category!
The awards took place at a ceremony on 11 July at BT Centre, London, where more than 200 people came together, including Maggie Philbin OBE the recipient of this year’s Special Award for her contribution to technology.
With co-host Mark Walker & the Special Award winner Maggie Philbin
The AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards 2017 winners are:
AbilityNet Accessibility Award:
Bristol Braille Technology is building a revolutionary and radically affordable Braille e-reader for blind people called Canute, designed with and by the blind community. The Canute is the world’s first multiple line Braille e-reader, forty characters per line by nine lines, and it will be affordable too. They want to be able to sell it for the price of a Perkins typewriter or iPhone. This would make it 20 times cheaper than existing digital Braille devices.
BT Connected Society Award:
Sky Badger finds educational, medical, financial and social support for families with disabled children all over the UK. Over the last five years, Sky Badger has supported over 1.02 million disabled children and their families. With 981,958 visitors to its website and over 17,470 fans and followers on social media, it is clearly reaching lots of people.
BT Young Pioneer Award:
Year ten school pupils Kiera McKillop and Sinead McKeown from Killian’s College created the Dyslexic Aid, with a very limited budget, by using a Raspberry Pi computer. They have used their technical knowledge, skills and enthusiasm to design and make a device that helps children who are struggling to learn because of dyslexia.
Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award:
In South Africa, Praekelt.org’s Maternal Health Platform connects more than a million pregnant women and new mothers to vital services and information through the National Department of Health’s MomConnect programme.
Launched in 2014, so far it has sent out over 54 million messages to millions of women, with 95% of clinics in the country signed up to the service.
Community Impact Award:
Chatterbox is an online and in-person language tutoring service, delivered and developed by refugees. It brings together refugee talent with people and organisations that need people with excellent language skills. Since starting up in August 2016 they have supported more than 30 refugees with aspirations to rebuild their professional lives in the UK.
Digital Health Award:
Both of Vicky Coxhead’s sons have Cystic Fibrosis and because of this they have to do regular physio to keep infections at bay. She applied to feature on a a new BBC2 documentary asking for families with a problems to get in touch and was introduced to Haiyan Zhang, who volunteered to help. Haiyan works as Innovation Director at Microsoft Research in Cambridge. She enlisted the help of Creative Technologist Greg Saul to create a device that could take the boys’ breaths and turn them into controls for a videogame. Together, with Lee Stott at Microsoft UK, they organised hackathons where volunteer designers and engineers from across the UK came along to make new video game experiences for the Coxhead boys.
Digital Skills Award:
FabFarm! is a digital aquaponic farm that is designed, built and operated as a social enterprise by disabled students in Derry, N.Ireland. Developed by the Nerve Centre, FabLab, it uses new and emerging technologies to help empower, engage and inspire young people with special educational needs to develop new skills which are directly focused upon their employability in the digital marketplace.
Tech Volunteer of the Year Award:
Simon Cook started volunteering for Centra Group five years ago. Since then this digital champion has managed to set-up IT equipment in 52 sheltered housing schemes across London, and as far-a-field as Norfolk and Telford. His achievements are astounding, and are driven by his absolute determination and perseverance to use tech for good. In the beginning, it was difficult to get elderly residents involved in the IT projects, they were wary of him and the new technology. But, he has won them over and now runs a computer club four days a week that supports more than 30 people.
Tech4Good People’s Award:
C the Signs, a decision support tool that enables GPs to see the early signs of cancer, was chosen as the winner of this award by the general public. The public were encouraged to read about each finalist and their entry on the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards website and vote for their choice for the People’s Award by sending a tweet using a dedicated hashtag.
National charity AbilityNet has over 20 years’ experience enabling people with disabilities to use technology to change their lives at home, at work and in education. Globally acclaimed for its expertise in workplace disability management and digital accessibility AbilityNet works with clients in the private, public and voluntary sector including all major Departments of State and many FTSE top 100 indexed companies. The Charity’s Patron is Baroness Martha Lane-Fox.