British expectations of digital innovation as it relates to accessibility are fundamentally changing, according to a new study by the charity AbilityNet, in partnership with BT.


The research, conducted to support the Tech4Good Awards, reveals that while almost everyone agrees you can’t have a normal life without access to digital services, one in two (54%) believe disabled audiences are overlooked by many technology companies and developers, and that the latest gadgets and devices are built with a mainstream and much younger audience in mind.


45 per cent of Brits expect modern-day inventors to be inspired by more than just making money. Furthermore, 41 per cent believe achieving something for social good is important, while 35 per cent state transforming lives should be a key driver.


Robin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion, AbilityNet, comments:  “For disabled people, technology is like night and day. It’s the difference between opportunities, in many cases on the same level as other people, versus no opportunities and limited options. This research highlights the crucial role technology plays in solving the unsolvable and helping people get on with daily life. Through the Tech4Good Awards we want to champion the individuals and businesses – like BT – who are transforming lives through technology innovation. We encourage anyone who has transformed an ingenious idea into life-changing technology services to enter these Awards.”


Liz Williams, general manager, sustainable business, BT, comments: “At BT, we believe in the power of communications to transform everyone’s lives. That’s why we design accessible products and services – and why we’re proud to support the Tech4Good Awards. The research shows that social innovation should be at the heart of inventors’ motivations and goals when they’re creating new devices and services, and we want to reward those entrepreneurs, NGOs and businesses transforming their ideas into creative solutions that make a difference to people with disabilities.”


Almost three quarters (71%) of people in the UK think computer devices and apps are not being developed in the interests of everyone in society, yet more than half of Brits (62%) believe technology has the power to encourage greater digital inclusion.


More than a third (34%) would like to see a public commitment from businesses to build and invest in accessibility features for digital devices and services. 44 per cent said they would like to see a focus within digital education and training in accessibility to encourage developers to design apps and services with disabled people in mind.


The UK Tech4Good Awards is calling for projects that celebrate the hard work of people who use the power of digital technology to make the world a better place. This year sees the introduction of the BT Ingenious Award, which will award innovative use of technology brings people closer together. Nominations are open to businesses of all sizes, charities and individuals.


Created by e-accessibility charity, AbilityNet and sponsored by BT, the Tech4Good Awards recognise the many innovative ways that charities, businesses, schools, government and the public have used technology to improve people’s lives.


Research findings*:


  • 62% of Brits believe technology has the power to level the playing field for people with disabilities
  • 34% believe a public commitment from businesses to invest in accessibility and ensure it is factored into products/services is key to solving the problem
  • 44% believe education/training in technology development should be geared towards ensuring accessibility features are included as standard practice
  • 76% believe access to the internet encourages innovation
  • Public perceptions of what innovation looks like is changing. According to the research the modern-day inventor should now be inspired by:
    • Be inspired by more than just making money (45%)
    • Doing something for social good (41%)