RADAR is a very influential charity in the UK, bringing together a pan-disability approach to empower and prosper Screenreader was nominated for an Disabled Entrepreneur of the Year Award and we went along on 1st December to a fabulous evening at the Battersea Evolution in London. There were over three hundred people, many or most disabled in all sorts of ways, the food, drink and flowed all for free and we did not mind that we were not the winners. Blindness gets a good deal of empathy but we chatted to people who had been involved in accidents and suddenly were not able to walk, people, sometimes in high positions, who had suffered mental health, depression etc, and some who could hardly move a muscle. So we are fine, but just can’t see.
It takes me a long time to grow up and understand. For years I thought such glitzy occasions were a total waste of money and time. The RADAR evening budget, for instance, could run our Screenreader.net enterprise for more than a year, for sure. But I have been wrong.
Margaret and I were poshed up in our bow tie and evening dress etc which is certainly not our style and Tania, Margaret’s guide dog, sported a matching bow. But its what inside that counts and we chatted away to like-minded people who are obsessed, like us, with their project, living on pretty low incomes, probably less than the lowest paid jobs in Tesco and the like. They would be shouting for disabled people in Newcastle, campaigning for those in sheltered accommodation to be able to earn more than £20 a week in a society where top bankers get millions a year when retired early for the mess they have played a part in creating. We met a chap from Kenya, over hear amongst our wealth, to return home with ideas to improve the lives of blind people with great brains but no job or money. ,
If everyone went home as fired up as we were, then some good things for disabled people are going to happen over the coming year and the money was well spent. And we all had the opportunity of appearing amongst representatives of large organisations and celebrities who really do have the power and the influence to make big-time changes in Society. Amongst the sponsors were Sky, BBC, Lloyds TSB, a bank actually getting applause, and the Home Office.
No one seemed bowed down by the credit crunch and the gloomy economic forecasts and we for sure will double our efforts to get our free software round the world. Yesterday, working with a student from Nepal, a computer spoke the first words in Nepalese and we plan to work closely with a school for blind children and young people out there. And, if all goes well, we will be putting our efforts into Swahili with the cooperation of the Kenyan Blind Union.
At home, here in the UK, we have landed our first Government contract with the ministry of Justice on the theme of engaging blind people in the political process. We have to teach, on line, our users to blog, take part in petitions, easily get information from the web, and generally make their voice and needs heard by our politicians.
For the last year, we have been working on some software for people with learning difficulties as well as little or no sight. Software is never done; always a work in progress. But www.talkingcomputers.info is where you will find more details and the chance to try it out or at least tell others about it for us, please. Lots of goodies for people who have not been able to get much out of a computer up to now. There is easy access to music, radio choices, a talking calendar, dice, clock and even some games and educational stuff. So please spread the word for us if you are able.
Back to The People of the Year Awards: The Winning Entrepreneur had been shot up in Iraq. Within two years, he has set up a business which teacher==s professionals how to deal with severely damaged victims on the spot, in that first precious hour, so that they survive, even though badly damaged. A great tribute to the human spirit which is indomitable in some people.