Accessible tech revolution

The Coronavirus has been around for several months and has started an accessible tech revolution. Many people have changed the way they work during the Coronavirus pandemic, but for some disabled people this has brought some specific challenges.

Improvements in accessible technology has seen artificial intelligence software provide real-time, on-screen transcriptions of what someone is saying in video calls, but there are concerns that some video calling platforms and apps are not as accessible as they could be. BBC Click’s Paul Carter find out more.

The accessible tech revolution begins…

Accessible tech revolution

Business are now staying in touch with their teams and clients through video conferencing. How accessible is the technology to the disabled community? An accessible tech revolution is beginning.

What is The Social Model of Disability?

The Coronavirus crisis means that many of us are now working remotely and using videoconferencing platforms and tools. But how do we use them in an accessible way?

Drake Music have been researching and learning about accessibility in video conferencing/ online meetings/ remote music sessions. Here are some of the solutions to assist businesses with the accessible tech revolution.

PACE

A group conversation can move rapidly. This can be inaccessible to some people. In video calls there can also be an overwhelming amount of information to process (audio, visual, chat text etc). Check in with your group as to their requirements.

Some suggestions to support accessible conversations would be:

  • Assign a moderator who checks in on people’s understanding and reiterates key points at regular intervals.
  • Ask participants to speak one at a time.
  • For large groups consider controlling participants’ audio to allow them to chat to everyone, or just the host. (Note: in Zoom there is a ‘raise hand’ function to allow participants to signal that they wish to comment/ask a question.)
  • Use the chat function to record key points, giving each a title to separate key info out from general chat.
  • Record the meeting and share it afterwards to let people listen to important sections again.
  • Offer an option for people to switch off cameras.
  • Offer to record the meeting and send the video and a transcript of the chat to participants after.
  • If you/your participants are new to video-conferencing here is a useful guide to Zoom from Copronet Wales

Audio

A large meeting may be noisy and hard to follow. This will make it more inaccessible. Some suggestions to improve the experience for the end user could be:

  • Ask everyone to mute their mics when not speaking to limit extraneous noise.
  • Consider using an external mic if you are hosting a meeting, to improve sound quality.
  • Use a video conferencing system which supports Subtitles/Captioning – this can be beneficial for everyone and is especially important if you are using screen sharing and participants can’t see you while you are speaking.
    1. Skype – Automatic captions, not always 100% accurate, but helpful. Multi-videos can crash more.
    2. Zoom – Captions can be enabled, but someone has to be assigned to type them.
    3. Google Hangouts – Automatic captions/subtitles, we haven’t tested these yet.
    4. Gotomeeting – Offers transcriptions after the meeting, but possibly not live. Caption info for
    5. Teams – Microsoft’s service offers automatic captions/subtitles. We haven’t tested it yet.
  • For captions, speak clearly, slowly and into the mic. Limit background noise and try to avoid everyone speaking at the same time. Also allow for extra time to transfer captioners into breakout rooms, or to get set up at the start of an event.
  • If you are using slides consider sharing your speaker notes alongside them, so that people can read along if needed.
  • If you share videos, ensure they are captioned.
  • Headphones may be useful

Please note: Automatic captions may work reasonably well for smaller conversations and one-to-one discussions, but that for training, livestreaming or bigger group meetings it is not always the best option.

Sign Language

When hosting a remote meeting which involves sign language there are specific considerations needed in order to ensure it is accessible – e.g. turn-taking, the visibility of the speaker to the interpreter, the tiring nature of watching signing in 2D.

There is an excellent post on The Limping Chicken blog by Jo Wootton which covers this topic in depth and which we recommend reading.

Access to Work support can be used to pay for a captioning service or BSL interpreters if the video-conference is for work and that support is required to allow you to fully participate in meetings.

Stay accessible within your business

We understand the challenging times facing business at present. It is not easy to have some of your team working from home and some in the office. A company must make sure that they supply all the right equipment to all their staff. This will make sure no employee is disadvantaged when doing their job.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your concerns and/or requirements, Our experienced team will be able to advise you on the correct software, hardware and systems to assist your employees. Take advantage of our security and back up solutions. As well as the latest telecoms and video conferencing systems to enable you clients and team to stay in regular contact.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

Twitter accounts hacked

The news broke recently that major US Twitter accounts were hacked in a Bitcoin scam.

The Twitter accounts of notable billionaires were hacked, on Wednesday afternoon. These included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla founder Elon Musk, rapper Kanye West, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Politicians’ accounts, including Joe Biden and Barack Obama, were also affected soon after. “I am giving back to the community,” the tweets read. “All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled!”. The link to the Bitcoin wallet is consistent throughout all the tweets, suggesting a cryptocurrency scam.

The bulk of the messages have been deleted, though screenshots remain of several affected accounts:

Twitter has acknowledged the problem, but we are still very short on detail. The Biden campaign stated that the platform locked his account immediately after the breach, and removed the tweet. As part of the Twitter’s effort to solve the problem, verified accounts were restricted from tweeting for several periods on Wednesday night. The internet was alive to rumours of the removal of the verification badge.

Twitter accounts hacked

What’s the scam?

Hackers broke into the high-profile Twitter accounts and sent fake tweets offering $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.

For instance, the message sent from  Elon Musk’s account said, “All bitcoins sent to my address below will be sent back double the amount. If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000.” Likewise, information spread from Bill Gates’ Twitter handle said: “Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time.”

How did they do it?

Whilst there has been no official announcement of the method the hackers used, there are strong and consistent rumours originating from those who should know the truth. It appears that high level administration accounts were compromised, possibly through some form of social engineering, phishing or some say an ex-employee. Doubtless the truth will out. Either way this is a timely remind to lockdown your admin accounts!

Lessons for us from Twitter accounts hacked

There are no free lunches and no easy money. As an investor, you should always doubt information or schemes that offer to you an opportunity to make quick money in a very short period. The financial victims were just greedy. The other victim is the end user who places their trust in a large organization that we should be able to be rely upon to secure our data.

“Hackers had complete access to Twitter. They could post anything from any account. But they chose to seek bitcoins through false promises. People should be more careful. Most crypto giveaways that ask for contributions are scams. We hope this brings awareness, and Twitter users do not fall for these kinds of scams again,” said Arjun Vijay, Co-Founder and COO, Giottus Cryptocurrency Exchange.

Emergency response

Twitter earlier had to take the extraordinary step of stopping many verified accounts marked with blue ticks from tweeting altogether. Password reset requests were also being denied and some other “account functions” disabled. You may be sure that behind closed doors the Twitter investigation with the assistance of the FBI will be exhaustive. The reputational damage from the Twitter accounts hacked can not be over estimated.

Does your business also need an emergency response?

We would strongly urge you to review who has adminstrator rights to your world. Are you immune to this cyber threat? At the end of the day Twitter suffered from poor house keeping by a large corporate.

Protect your business with LIS

With immediate effect, we will add our Office 365 Security package to all our customers, at no cost. Amongst other benefits this gives you a monthly review of all users with administrator access and alert/approval for any changes that may occur. Irrespective of whether the change came about through staff action, hacking or some form of social engineering. We would offer it to Twitter but that horse has bolted 😀.

A strong defence against cyber-crime is essential for your business. Protect your business data and sensitive information as it flows across your organisation. Our solutions enable us to understand where you are vulnerable. We can take proactive steps to help prevent and respond to threats, in order to reduce the potential risk to your business.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to migrate to Office 365 if you don’t already subscribe. Take advantage of our Office 365 Security Package special offer. Make sure your data and email are fully protected.

Our Office 365 Security Package is a bundle of software tools, that includes:

Finally, if you need them our managed anti-virus and anti-spam protection services can be deployed within minutes. LIS provides essential protection for your business, defending you from email viruses, spam and malware.

Do not gamble with your business security – we give you peace of mind!

Digital Trends for 2020

Digital is changing everything. The way your customers behave. The expectations they set. The speed at which they act. We take a look at the latest digital trends for 2020. You just have to look around you in a café, on the train, on the street… life is going mobile. This is just the start of a whole new era.

Winning in the new digital landscape is all about creating and continually optimizing flawless user experiences. That means staying on top of ever-changing trends. There are a ton of useful stats about internet usage here. Even though we knew it was huge, it’s still surprising to see some of the numbers. Trying to engage with your customers online? Then read this article.

Digital Trends for 2020

The rise of digital is one of the biggest revolutions in human history. It’s often easy to overlook how advanced digital technology has become in recent years, especially when the first mobile phones only got released less than 40 years ago in 1984.

Top five digital trends for 2020 and projections on the horizon

Video Marketing is King

Only 20 years ago, the presence of a camcorder was enough to clear a room. Now? Every person with a monile phone has a video camera. The universal shyness about videos is altogether a behaviour of yesteryear. People love videos and businesses are picking up on it.

In fact, 85% of marketers use video marketing for business, helped 72% of brands increase their conversion rates, according to a study by Wyzowl.

How can you harness the power of videos to market your business? People watch videos to get information and learn. Your first step as a small business marketer is to outline what relevant information you can share that will help your target customer. Then you can start creating compelling, informative videos.

Use Schema Mark-ups and Rich Snippets

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should be a core component of your marketing strategy. While trends change from year to year, organic search is consistently one of the top drivers of B2B website traffic.

Keyword research, high-quality content, and on-page SEO form the foundation. From there, the projection for 2020 is cantered on schema mark-ups and rich snippets. Focusing on these expands your potential to grow web traffic, increase brand awareness, and convert new visitors into loyal customers. What are they and how can they bolster your marketing efforts?

  • Schema mark-up is a webpage snippet that’s been optimized into a rich snippet.
  • A rich snippet contains all the pertinent details to an optimized page, including images, pricing, ratings, descriptions, etc.

Share Bite-Sized and Informational Content

Just as it’s powerful to share informative videos with your target audience, the same principle applies to other visual content you create. You don’t need to produce Tolstoy-length articles and blog posts to garner credibility and results. In fact, people often favour short, insightful and digestible information. Perfect example? Infographics are educational, concise, and easy to digest.

The Future is A.I., and it Wants to Chat

Artificial Intelligence isn’t a robot in an action film or a digital nucleus overthrowing humanity: it’s simply a dynamic marketing tool that makes managing a small business more efficient. While it’s not as glamorous (or scary!) as in the movies, it’s much more effective. That’s likely why in 2020, 80% of companies will use A.I. to increase sales, according to Single Grain.

The New Facebook Ad Marketing Trend For 2020

Facebook has encountered peaks and valleys, but the platform is still relevant and even necessary for many marketers. Regardless of privacy concerns and other issues, Facebook still has billions of users, and they like to shop. That’s why 67% of social media marketers rely on Facebook as their primary platform.

While it remains an effective strategy, Facebook marketing will change in 2020. Paid ads are a must. Organic reach on Facebook is perhaps 6% of page likes. But with Facebook ads, you have the potential to reach 2.45 billion active monthly users.

There are several ways to use Facebook ads to market your business in 2020, but one of them reigns supreme: Stories ads. Facebook rolled out its Stories feature in March of 2017, and now 500 million users watch Stories every day.

Instead of spending all your budget on newsfeed ads, allocate part of your funds to Facebook Stories ads. Incorporate video in your Stories ads to inspire viewers to take action.

How are we able to help your business?

We do not have a crystal ball and are unable to predict future digital trends for 2020. However, one thing is for sure, the digital age is not going away. Businesses need to compete and make sure they have the latest technology. This will ensure market presence and hopefully increase sales.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your requirements. Our team will advise you on the most appropriate system for your business. Whether you require, IT equipment and support, software and security, networking or telecoms – we are here to help. Giving you peace of mind to allow you to concentrate on what your good at.

#Digital #Internet #BigNumbers

Virtual Pub Quizzes

Lockdown virtual pub quizzes have surged in popularity. Thanks to technology, family and friends are able to take part in virtual pub quizzes from around the world.

It’s nearly the weekend, why not brush up your general knowledge with a virtual pub quiz?

We are reliant on technology for everything from exercise classes to speaking to loved ones. To help metal wellbeing, it is also been key in keeping one British tradition going – the pub quiz. Fire up your PC or device for House Party, Google Hangouts, Zoom or Messenger and test yourself.

We are all using technology a lot more right now- see how much you really know about it!

https://www.techradar.com/news/join-us-and-play-the-techradar-quiz-on-facebook-and-youtube-today

Virtual Pub Quizzes

Starting to feel like the old grey cells are getting rusty? There are virtual pub quizzes for everyday of the week.

History of the pub quiz

Renowned the world over, the great British pub is not just a place to drink beer, wine, cider or even something a little bit stronger. It is also a unique social centre, very often the focus of community life in villages, towns and cities throughout the length and breadth of the country.

Yet it appears that the great British pub actually started life as a great Italian wine bar, and dates back almost 2,000 years. For more information visit The Great British Pub article published in History Magazine.

An article in The Times 15th December 1990 mentioned “The quiz has been part of pub life for many years. Tetley’s, the Leeds brewery, has run a league for 22 years.” This suggests organised pub quiz leagues since 1968. Tetley are now part of Carlsberg and to be honest it is a tricky to Google as each search term brings up lots of pubs with quiz leagues.

The Times article also mentions “Burns and Porter, Britain’s biggest quiz organisation, runs 600 leagues for 16 breweries, supplying questions for 6,000 teams. After 14 years in the business, the company has just celebrated its two millionth quiz night”. Burns and Porter are much better documented and this is strong evidence that organized pub leagues were around since at least 1976.

Would you like any help to set up you next social or business online idea? Having trouble with your IT systems? Then contact us and we will be glad to help. Happy quizzing!

#YouTubeQuiz #Technology

Technology supports NHS

AUS-based Starship Technologies believe their robots will change food and package deliveries. They offer people a convenient new service that improves everyday life. The technology supports NHS workers who can have supplies delivered by robots using Starship’s mobile app.

Did you know that automated delivery robots are a common sight on the streets of Milton Keynes?
Technolohy supports NHS

Takeaways benefiting from contactless deliveries and make use of technology.

Starship Technologies have completed over 100,000 deliveries and NHS workers can use them for free. This is also available to the general public  and has proved popular with residents that are having to isolate and social distance during the virus.

Henry Harris-Burland, VP of Marketing at Starship Technologies, commented. “We want to make life a little bit easier for people in these stressful times. NHS staff work 80 hour weeks and they don’t have time to go to the local grocery store. So, they use our robots for their shopping and we are honoured that we can be part of that solution.”

He added: “The residents have been reaching out to us online asking us to deliver to their neighbourhood. We are doing everything we can as quickly as possible. We want to expand and offer this service to more people, especially at this really important time.”

Starship Technologies have been operating robots in the Milton Keynes area since 2018. The company have been trialling the use of its robots with Tesco and Co-op to deliver grocery orders to its customers.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-robots-in-milton-keynes-deliver-shopping-to-nhs-workers-11978670

Technology supports NHS

Co-op deliveries in Milton Keynes are now being made each week using the delivery robots.

The Mayor of Milton Keynes, Councillor Sam Crooks, said. “The robots have become an iconic sight in the town. Everyone’s excited at the prospect of them delivering in the town centre. The technology supports NHS staff and for the 180,000 people who work in the centre of Milton Keynes. This new technology can deliver lunch easily and save time during their working day.”