Cartoon man with a wlaking frame and smartphone

The Google Campus in London is playing host a conference run by Beit Issie Shapiro, an Israeli disability organisation, to look at how to allow more people to enjoy the wonders of mobile tech. And it’s holding a conference to amass ideas from people who’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to do this. Even better, some of them have ambitious actions in train.

There is a general problem with designing mobile phones known as the “usability knee”. That is if you make a phone very simple, with only a few button it then becomes much harder to add features. Having to press one button three times and another twice to get to a little used function isn’t simple.

The alternative is to have a button for each function, but pretty soon the phone is covered in choc-a-block buttons. This might be appealing for Google which names its software after confectionary but is very confusing to use.
Fuss Free Phones makes mobiles simple by having a telephonist to help you summoned with the press of a single button. That person can connect your call, send a text, read out an incoming text, look up things on the internet and have the telephonist block nuisance calls.

Using a person to do all the things that people find complicated with phones is, in the minds of geeks, cheating. Google wants the phone to be smarter and work in a way that people with disabilities can cope with.
To this end The phone's camera tracks the user's head movement, which acts as a navigational device.

And Google is looking for more ideas and so has invited Beit Issie Shapiro along with some of the leading thinkers in technology and disabilities to Google Campus London, a short walk from the Fuss Free Phones office, for a lively discussion about the power of assistive technology for people with disabilities. The event takes place On Tuesday, 1st November at 5:30pm
The panel, led by some of the industry’s most prolific thinkers in this area will cover today’s global landscape of assistive technologies, including smart mobile technology and technical adaptations. They will discuss the various ways in which technology improves the well-being and social inclusion of people with disabilities and their families.

Beit Issie Shapiro is a world-renowned charity based in Israel that leads the development and provision of therapies and state-of-the-art services for children and adults across the entire range of disabilities. Reaching 30,000 people in Israel and thousands of others across over 27 countries, BIS shares its knowledge and innovations globally through international affiliations, education and training programmes, including with Google Israel. BIS has Special Consultative Status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

There will be a panel session hosted by Saul Klein OBE, who co-founded Lovefilm International (acquired by Amazon) and was also part of the original executive team at Skype. Most recently he co-founded Kano and Seedcamp. On his panel will be Jean Judes the CEO of Beit Issie Shapiro, Ben Robins a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire Adaptive Systems Group, Haqeeq Bostan the Communications Director, Health and Wellbeing for PIPs at Capita, and Jamie Munro a Senior Trainer in Inclusive Technology.

It’s free and open to all, you can get tickets here.