24 March 2022

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is an awareness day focusing on digital access and inclusion for the more than one billion people alive today who live with disabilities or impairments. 

The RIX Centre at UEL is at the very forefront of this work. The UEL research centre transforms lives through developing new technologies to achieve change for people with learning difficulties and their families.


Inclusive technology

The RIX Centre is widely known within the inclusive technology space for its RIX Wikis, a simple yet powerful accessible multimedia authoring tool to help people with learning disabilities, autism or dementia to make their voices heard and their thoughts better understood . RIX Wikis software allows users to create personal multimedia portfolios, making innovative use of video, pictures, and sounds, to enable people with communication challenges to share their views and wishes and tell their own stories.

The RIX Centre's suite of digital tools to make software also includes the RIX EasySurvey tool, for accessible surveys and feedback mechanisms, plus the RIX Multi Me Toolkit, a browser-based platform allowing people to create a calendar, diary and goal planner which can be shared with others safely on a secure social media-based 'support network'. 

Community-focused, community-led

The RIX Centre's innovative digital platforms and tools have been developed with and for people with learning difficulties, their families, and support services. It is this collaborative approach that sets the research centre apart.

Andy Minnion, RIX Centre Founder and Director, said, "What makes the RIX Centre successful and sustainable is that everything is done in partnership with people that identify as having learning difficulties, their families, and the professionals and organisations that work with them.

This bottom-up approach to co-developing technology ensures that the solutions we create work best for the end-users. It also provides people with learning difficulties with the opportunity to learn, speak up for themselves, gain independence and meaningful employment that will impact the lives of generations to come."

The RIX Centre has recruited a team of co-researchers, who are all people with various learning difficulties that are paid employees of UEL who work directly with the RIX Centre team on research projects. Ros is one of the co-researchers based in Redbridge, who has been working with the RIX Centre throughout the pandemic to help people stay connected in changing and challenging times.  

Ros said, "The projects I've worked on have taught me about independence and how to do things for myself. Going to collect my staff card at the RIX Centre made me feel very important. I like being a co-researcher as it allows me to share when something isn't right or is not an easy read, and I get to come up with ideas like photo symbols to make things easier for people to understand."

Working with industry leaders

The collaborative nature of the RIX Centre extends beyond working with co-researchers and user groups, as they also work closely with leading experts and industry partners. This includes thought-leaders like Professor the Baroness Sheila Hollins (Beyond Words founder) and Shamima Akhtar (Policy Connect), who both provided keynote addresses at the Me and Your Stories conference, as well organisations like the Museum of London, NHS, and Charlton Park Academy, who are one of many educational institutions in the UK that work with the RIX Centre.

Gosia Kwiatkowska, RIX Centre Co-Director and Senior Lecturer, said, "The Me and Your Stories conference held in March brought to life why accessibility and inclusion matters. Technology used in the right way can change someone’s life, giving an individual a way to share their story and connect with others in a meaningful way.

"Having both access to and the ability to use the internet or apps is something that people take for granted. However, many people cannot access the internet at home, nor have the skillset or confidence to use it effectively. Our co-researchers have told us time and time again how being supported to use tools like Zoom and having access to platforms such as the RIX Wikis in Multi Me Toolkit really helped them during a challenging time."

Connect with the RIX Centre

To find out more about the RIX Centre and their amazing work aiming to improve accessibility standards and improve the lives of people with learning difficulties, visit their website or follow them on Twitter at @rix_centre.

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