Professor Stephen Hawking stars at 2012 Technology4Good Awards
Professor Stephen Hawking was the toast of this year's Technology4Good Awards, winning the Special Award for Excellence in Accessibility from organiser, e-accessibility charity, AbilityNet
At an awards ceremony hosted by broadcast presenter and journalist Mariella Frostrup, at BT Centre, London, the 200-strong audience heard a specially recorded acceptance speech from Professor Hawking - one of nine prizewinners in categories covering volunteering and innovation to fundraising and community action.
Receiving the Award in recognition of the opportunity technology offers disabled people to achieve their true potential, he said: "I was lucky to have been born in the computer age. Without them, my life would have been miserable and my scientific career impossible."
Overall winner in the Accessibility category was LexAble's Global AutoCorrect, the brainchild of 24-year-old, Neil Cottrell.
Neil, who developed the software to overcome the difficulties posed by his own severe dyslexia, obtained a first class honours degree in psychology with the help of his own innovation.
By allowing the end user to use the vocabulary they wish to, rather than the words they can actually spell, Global AutoCorrect promotes self-confidence as well as academic achievement.
Leading the field in Innovation was Action Aid, a charity using mobile phone technology to facilitate two-way communication with isolated and often illiterate communities in drought ravaged Kenya. By providing essential and timely information in innovative ways, they can manage food distribution more effectively and efficiently, saving time, money and human life.
Back in the UK, winners of the Community Impact Award, Paignton-based, Stroke Survivors Group members meet to support each other in relearning former computer skills and acquiring new ones. The model is now being used to develop similar clubs across the country.
Digital Fundraising Award winner and audience nominated Best in Show was Child's i Foundation, an African charity which finds imaginative solutions to the problems of child abandonment in Uganda. Its creative use of social and collaborative media has built a strong online community and already 25% of donations are produced this way.
Other winners included Preston City Council for their mobile 'Citizenzone' internet training facility, which takes technological know-how to hard-to-reach rural areas; Radio Free Brighton - a volunteer-run online radio station, building a stronger, more diverse and integrated community through imaginative, multi-cultural DIY programming by people in their own homes; champion IT Volunteer of the Year, Alison Crerar, who has single-handedly built up a network providing IT support to disabled people across Scotland and Social Care Institute of Excellence for their Get Connected Investment Project - a capital grant scheme enabling 30,000 care home residents to benefit from enhanced quality of life through digital access.
Celebrating her second year as official Technology4Good compere, Ms Frostrup congratulated the winners on their amazing stories and the inspirational ways in which people are using new technology to improve the lives of others in their own communities and further afield.
AbilityNet CEO, Nigel Lewis added: "Yet again, we were astounded by the quality, depth and breadth of the 200 entries for this year's awards. We are delighted to give national recognition to these life-changing developments and the people behind them - a graphic reminder of the potential which technology represents when it is applied to the greater good of others, particularly those who are socially isolated, excluded or disadvantaged."
AbilityNet Head Office
National e-Accessiblity charity, AbilityNet, has over 20 years' experience enabling people with disabilities to access technology and the internet at home, at work and in education. Globally acclaimed for its expertise in both workplace disability management as well as on-line usability and accessibility issues, AbilityNet has worked with clients in the private, public and voluntary sector including all major Departments of State and many FTSE top 100 indexed companies. The Charity's Patrons are Sir Terry Pratchett OBE and UK Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox.