Cyber charity to tackle internet inclusion

Blackpool FC access re-sized

A FYLDE charity is set to improve internet access for a huge range of disabled people including football fans up and down the country.

Action for Better Access uses cutting edge technology to convert text to speech in several different languages ensuring blind and visually impaired people are not left behind by the digital revolution.

The clever software also provides a visual depiction of almost any word for people who find reading difficult such as those with severe dyslexia and other cognitive issues.

The charity, run by Reverend James Webber and co-founder John Kelly who runs their IT company Access Network Equality, are already providing a more accessible website for Blackpool FC, their Premier League rivals Fulham and Notts County.

And they have even held talks with the Football League about rolling out an accessible page for every club outside the top flight.

Rev Webber said: “An estimated 80 million people in Europe are said to have a variety of disabilities – ranging from dyslexia, cognitive and learning difficulties, through to severe impairments such as blindness.

“Many people would assume the Internet to be out of reach of these users; in fact, with the aid of assistive technologies the World Wide Web has given many disabled people greater autonomy than ever before – as long as the web sites they use are accessible.

“Our aim is to assist those people and to assist service providers to become more digitally inclusive and therefore enable them to attract a wider customer base.”

The charity has already been backed by Fylde MP Mark Menzies and Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard, who have agreed to become Honorary Presidents and apply the technology to their websites.

Mr Menzies said: “I’m extremely conscious that while people are forever extolling the value of the interne there are some people who feel excluded.

“They shouldn’t, particularly because of a disability, so naturally I’m supportive of the work that John and James are doing.”

Paul Maynard MP, added: ““I was most impressed with the service Action for Better Access provide and am more than happy to act as an Honorary President. 

“After seeing the product in action I can see a huge potential for bringing better access of the internet to more and more people.”

And it’s not just the local politicians and football club who are backing the charity locally.

Action for Better Access have also produced an alternative format accessibility page for both Blackpool International Airport and Blackpool Zoo as well as Donna’s Dream House and a number of other local charities.

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