"Men in sheds" was the disparaging term given to the UK's assistive technology (AT) companies by a senior official at a government agency. It's fairly typical of a certain type of bureaucrat who is ignorant of the fact that this is a highly creative, inovative industry with an annual turnover of £60-£70 million.

Now Inclusive Technology chief executive Martin Littler is planning to bury the "Bill and Ben" perception once and for all by setting up the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA). And it has its founders meeting at the Institute of Directors in London on October 5.

Click StartPeople with learning disabilities often have difficulties reading text and coping with conventional interfaces using a mouse and keyboard. So, for them, accessing information on the internet can be a major challenge. Now Click Start, a £192,000 multimedia project funded by the European Social Fund and channelled through the Learning and Skills Council, aims to help thousands of the UK’s 1.5 million learners thought to be affected.

For nine months staff at the Rix research and development centre have been working with London boroughs to create a network of 150 accessible information ‘wiki’ websites using innovative, easy-to-build website software. Linked by a main portal website in each borough, their content is easy to read and uses photos, sound and video clips alongside simple text.

John Galloway welcomes a helpful new handbook
Futurelab publicationResearchers at Futurelab, the internationally renowned ICT in education research group, approach their handbooks in a very well-grounded way. They combine a solid academic base with practical examples, and research outputs from their innovative, if sometimes slightly eccentric, projects.

Using digital technologies to promote inclusive practices in education begins with a very easy-to-read overview of the development of the "inclusion" agenda, - from the trends of the 1980s and 1990s to build more special schools, to the policy around the turn of the century to have greater integration, and the shift in language, and focus, from SEN to "inclusion".

By Maureen McTaggart
Racheda AliRacheda Ali: beating her fearsTen weeks ago Racheda Ali (left) was too scared to even look at a laptop and didn’t know how to open one. Now the 41-year-old graduate of one of Sheffield’s "Communicating for Success" courses is confidently using computer games and her son’s laptop to help her 6-year-old daughter make the grade in her primary class.

“I have wanted to learn how to use computers for a long time but was a bit scared to go out and about, which is the case for a lot of Muslim women,” she said. “When I heard about the ICT classes being held at my daughter’s primary school, I jumped at the chance to sign up.”

By Sally McKeown

Martin LittlerMartin Littler, chairman of Inclusive Technology (left), has plenty to smile about. He has just won two awards. First he was named as Oldham Businessman of the Year and then the company won a Rotary Club award for community service.

Delighted to win his award, he said, " I think that we have built up a successful business because the three of us who founded Inclusive Technology had all been special needs teachers, so we not only understood our market, we were our market."