The Rix Centre specializes in developing new media technology and its use by people with intellectual disabilities to improve their lives. It is a research and development center as well as a charity based at the University of East London. In partnership with a team of Web users with intellectual disabilities, it develops standards and guidelines of Web accessibility for people with intellectual disabilities, particularly so they can participate in the rich-media world.
One of The Rix Centre’s projects, Click Start, is of particular interest to me. Its purpose is to build, for people with intellectual disabilities transitioning to adult life, a network of accessible Web sites in ten North-East London boroughs.
Each site is a portal to smaller Wiki sites edited by staff of borough departments and by people with intellectual disabilities who use their services. All are provided training, support and online software to produce and publish content. “Easy read” Web sites are being created with photos, sound- and video clips alongside simple text. The intention is to directly involve young people with intellectual disabilities so they may help each other with issues related to independent living, finding employment and education.
In a comment to my review of The Newham Easy Read Web site, Andy Minnion, director of The Rix Centre, states what he believes to be important about Click Start and the other such sites The Rix Centre has designed:
The key thing about these Websites and those that have followed ( at http://www.clickstart.org.uk ) is to engage people with ID in planning and developing the sites themselves so that their voices, experiences and opinions are shared and so that the support services featured are described by the people that they are designed to serve.
I could not agree with him more. I love that people with intellectual disabilities produce their own content for these Web sites. Also, it appears to me they can publish it themselves. My understanding is the “online software” being developed by The Rix Centre is a content management system accessible to users with intellectual disabilities. This is wondrous to me. That people with intellectual disabilities can produce and publish their own content is an ideal to which everyone should aspire.
I congratulate The Rix Centre, and wish every success to all the people involved in its projects.
- Click Start is a joint project of The Rix Centre and Ellingham Employment Services.
- About Click Start, there is a video introduction and a project-description video, both narrated by Mr. Minnion. (Neither is closed-captioned.)
- The Click Start Web site employs Cognable Speeka, a text-to-speech product I recently reviewed.
- The Rix Centre, as is common in England, refers to people with intellectual disabilities as “people with learning disabilities and difficulties”.