Here to help

It’s the start of a new year and maybe a time for you to think whether you need any help with a ICT or Assistive Technology.

AccessAbility Solutions has been in existence now for 6 years and  loves to help people find a solution to their disability or ICT related need. We use the latest and most appropriate technologies to find you a solution,

Primarily working in the education sector we also work in social care settings and individual homes. We do NOT do wheelchair assessments! We are an IT company with a training side.

Why not give us a call or email us via the website to discuss your ICT and AT problem or need?

Job Opportunity for a SENCO or Deputy Head

Looking for a change and you want to do something great beyond your school. Are you or have you been a SENCO? Are you or have you been a deputy head ? Then this full-time role may be for you:–

Job Title: Head of Education Services

Job Summary

Scanning Pens Ltd is looking for an experienced, professional and dynamic individual to join our expanding team. As Head of Education Services, you will be responsible for sharing and developing examples of good practice of our products to share with education professionals in a variety of settings including the delivery of presentations, seminars, school visits and exhibitions. This role is based from our Telford, Shropshire and Westbury, Wiltshire Offices working with different teams within Scanning Pens including our Marketing and Sales teams.

Here’s a link to the job:

Zotero – tool for collecting source citations

Save references to Zotero from your web browser
Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research.
Very useful for University students and those doing research

Collect with a click.

Zotero is the only software that automatically senses research on the web. Need an article from JSTOR or a preprint from A news story from the New York Times or a book from a library? Zotero has you covered, everywhere

Organize your way.

Zotero helps you organize your research any way you want. You can sort items into collections and tag them with keywords. Or create saved searches that automatically fill with relevant materials as you work.


Cite in style.

Zotero instantly creates references and bibliographies for any text editor, and directly inside Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs. With support for over 9,000 citation styles, you can format your work to match any style guide or publication.

Becoming Disability Confident

Our friends at Iansyst are putting on an interesting free event about AT in the Workplace in Cambridge on the 14th March. It will include seminars , refreshments, lunch and a raffle! More details below:-




There are a number of different types of electronic notebooks on the market . Rocketbook (£34.99) is re-usable notebook ( up to 5 times) on a single notebook.

It’s application? In terms of special needs I think that it’s a way of improving handwriting. Pupils will try harder I think of it is going to be saved for posterity.

Happy Handwriting!

…and drawing!

Google Assistant – an Assistive Technology

google assistant

Google Assistant (£free) on Android and iOS 

But it’s weird that it doesn’t send emails on Google Home Mini! Google Assistant can write and send emails just like Siri but for Android and iOS devices. Using my voice only I was able to say Ok Google and Send an email to <name> and Google Assistant prompts the replies making it a doodle to send an email to someone in your Google Contacts list.

This makes it an Assistive Technology tool that could in particular help blind people. If like Siri OK Google fires up even when the app isn’t running this would be a great alternative. This would appear to be an Android thing, but I am looking into it. Google Assistant works on Android 5 and above.


Google Home Mini v’s Amazon Echo Dot

Voice controlled devices have a powerful role to play in bringing Assistive Technology to mainstream public use. Although their functions are similar and overlap simultaneously they are different as well. For instance the Amazon Echo Dot coming from a media platform in Amazon is better at dealing with things like audiobooks and finding out skills you can use your device with. By contrast Google coming from a system operating system background is better at doing tasks like making a phone call, which the Echo Dot is not as good at ( though using Skype you can do similar things.) Both devices control smart appliances but this area has not been investigated by me yet.

In order to do a comparison between the devices I have laid out my findings in a question and answer format using tables for easy comparison. My conclusion is that both devices might be needed in certain circumstances eg for the totally blind. I am looking at both devices from the point of view of disability and how accessible they are. And I am always learning new things so this will be a growing resource as more is discovered. I have also included the TV control devices – for Google Home Mini the Chromecast device and for Amazon Echo Dot the Firestick TV device.

If you want this as a PDF click Google Home Mini v’s Amazon Echo Dot

So here is my comparison:-

  1. How easy is it to setup the devices?


Google Home Mini Amazon Echo Dot
Very easy and within 5 mins, the setup procedure is led by a free app – Google Home Can be problematical to get the wifi connected. Runs through a procedure of connecting to wifi through the devices own wifi. Also needs a free app called Amazon Alexa ( avoid Setup for Amazon Alexa)
Once connected the device is ready to use straight away Once connected the device is ready for use and you can start collecting skills to use.


  1. How extensive is the range of things you can do?


Google Home Mini Amazon Echo Dot
Claims to have a million uses but hard to find out but essentially you can find out information and play media Skills are clearly listed on a website and on the free app.
No listing on a website gives a mirror of the alexa device and you can add or delete skills from there


  1. Are the things you can do free?


Google Home Mini Amazon Echo Dot
 Yes, apart from media streaming music and tv  Yes apart from media streaming music and tv.

If you have Amazon Prime your music streaming is part of that, otherwise you have to pay extra for each device connected!


  1. What about streaming TV?


Google Home Mini Amazon Echo Dot
 You need an additional device called Google Chromecast (£30) to “cast” to your TV. Setup is easy through the device and app Google Home  You need an additional device called an Amazon FireStick TV (£39.99).
 Despite the blurb so far it has a limited range of entertainment channels to use  Wide range of channels to use which is being extended all the time. Easier to find programmes


  1. How accessible for the blind is the streaming TV?


Google Home Mini Amazon Echo Dot
 Voice control works from the device Press mike on the remote which won’t be possible for those with fine motor skill problems as the button is small. You can set up the Amazon Echo to respond and playback audio through your Echo but if you have two devices switching between the two is difficult
 No remote device to press , easier to operate with your voice, no accessibility options available. Have to run the service and make accessible changes there and then play.  Built in Accessibility options will read back the main menu.  VoiceView speaks on-screen text out loud as you navigate menu options and settings on your Amazon Fire TV.High contrast text for partially sighted. Screen magnification available
Subtitles and Audio description from the services. Best to search for “Audio Description for English” and see what programmes listed have that Subtitles and  Audio can be set by pressing the menu button but there are range of tools available than just subtitles For more details go to:-



  1. Can you make phone calls?


Google Home Mini Amazon Echo Dot
 Yes, claims to be free in the UK to landlines and mobiles. Uses VOIP and Google Contacts and so it does seem to be free and a big advantage over the Amazon  Yes, but free to other amazon app users. So get your friend to download the app.


Landline and mobiles  with Skype which incurs cost . The lowest being unlimited minutes for £2.40 a month for landlines only. 400 minutes limited on landlines and mobiles cost about £6.00 approx.  monthly


Amazon promised a device called an Echo Connect but it hasn’t materialised yet!


  1. Can you email?


Google Home Mini Amazon Echo Dot
 Lists “Email to <name>”  but have not been able to get this to work yet.  No. There is no skill for this and shows that a media platform like Amazon struggles with this.


The only way is to send a short shopping list to up to 20 people using workaround.



  1. How much are the various devices needed?


Google Home Mini £29.00 Amazon Echo Dot £29.99
 Chromecast £30  Fire Stick TV £39.99
TOTAL: £59.00 TOTAL: £ 69.98


       9.What Smart Home Devices do they support?


Google Home Mini Amazon Echo Dot
 Plugs, lights, heating systems, cameras ( for security)  Plugs, lights, heating systems, cameras (for security)
Due to expense these have not been tried or tested yet Due to expense these have not been tried or tested yet


  1. Which is the best system for accessibility and function and why?


Google Home Mini Amazon Echo Dot
 Best voice control for streaming tv without hand use  Best navigational system for accessibility if you have hand function
For making FREE  phone calls For playing media like audiobooks from Kindle
Not easy to find out what other uses you can do. Needs a better way to search for things Easier to find skills to use but the quality of the skills and uses are varied.
Use for controlling tv and phone calls if you are totally blind and have no hand function Use for music and controlling TV if you have hand function and partial sight