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Access to technology remains an issue for the disabled community

It is widely accepted that technology has the power to transform lives, which for the biggest minority group in the world – those with disabilities – means a potential transformation that is profound and positive.

However, a new study conducted by BT and AbilityNet shows that nearly three quarters of Brits believe that not all members of society are benefiting from computers and the internet.

The study found that while almost everyone agrees you can't have a normal life without access to digital services, one in two 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.

For disabled people, the difference technology can make is like the difference between night and day. It's the difference between having opportunities, in many cases on the same level as other people, versus no opportunities and limited options.

The research highlights the crucial role technology plays in solving the unsolvable and helping people get on with daily life. It also shows that social innovation should be at the heart of inventors' motivations and goals when they're creating new devices and services.

As an example, 45 per cent of Brits expect modern-day inventors to be inspired by more than just making money, while 35 per cent state transforming lives should be a key driver.

We set up the Technology4Good Awards with BT's support in order to celebrate those entrepreneurs, NGOs and businesses transforming their ideas into creative solutions that make a difference to people with disabilities.

Although we're living in a society where technology innovation is proliferating, with a new app being built every minute, almost three quarters of people in the UK think computer devices and apps are not being developed in the interests of everyone in society, with over a quarter thinking smartphones and apps are totally inaccessible to people with disabilities.

We may well be a nation of "mobile addicts", but these statistics suggest a huge portion of society is being left by the wayside in crucial dev stage considerations. Issues such as user-unfriendliness, no voice-recognition and the absence of braille keyboards featured strongly in the BT research findings.

The new research reveals a desire among the British public for creativity that covers all of these features in order to equate innovation with access. For example, nearly half of the respondents said they would like to see a focus on accessibility within digital education and training, in order to encourage developers to design apps and services with disabled people in mind.

Lastly, public support for investment in accessibility is equally important. The BT and AbilityNet research illuminates how more than a third would like to see a public commitment from businesses to build and invest in accessibility features for digital devices and services.

The public backing from influential business minds would enlighten the UK jobs market today by encouraging digital inclusion and equality as we build the economy up in the right direction.

Robin Christopherson is head of digital inclusion at AbilityNet

The public can nominate individuals or businesses for the Tech4Good Awards here. Entries close 6 May 2014.