eQuality Time’s mission is to employ original critical thinking to solve problems of inclusion and equality through the use of technology and education. In practice this means we have ideas for projects, we apply for funding to prototype or scale them up, and then we work to make them self-funding. We raise around £50,000 a year for our work.
Our flagship projects are White Water Writers, a young adult fiction publisher that has ensured over 1,000 children have held in their hands a book they have written, and Open Voice Factory, an open source software project for people with communication disabilities.
White Water Writers
Our White Water Writers project works with groups of pupils all over the UK (and sometimes abroad. The children we work with write and publish their own novel. The project has enabled over 2,000 children to hold in their hands a book they have written, raising their confidence, skills, and ambition (See here, for a summary of our research).
Being selected for the project has made the students realise that staff see, and value, their academic potential and strong personalities. Also, the students were unaware how much they could achieve when working independently, as their timetable is highly structured and supported. They surprised themselves – A teacher in Stoke.
Groups start with a blank page on Monday morning. They are lead through a series of exercises and activities and publish their own collaboratively written novel on Friday afternoon. Nobody outside the group touches a key during the week: the novel is entirely the work of the students involved.
Find out more at the project website!
The Open Voice Factory
Up to 15 in every 1,000 children have such severe speech-language impairments that they have difficulty making themselves understood, This affects everything from daily activities like playing with other children and taking part in school to talking to a doctor about your symptoms or your family about your hopes.
Electronic speech aids, which ‘speak’ set words or phrases when a sequence of symbols are pressed, can be life-changing for these children, but current devices are expensive even in economically developed countries.
To combat this, we created The Open Voice Factory.
The Open Voice Factory (which won Nesta’s Inclusive Technology Prize) provides free speech aid software by converting communication boards into communication devices.
Anyone can create an aid by editing a PowerPoint communication board template to add their own pages or utterances. When you upload your template to the factory, it will create a working communication aid for you.
The resulting programs run on any platform, from tablets to laptops to phones, without installation or complex setup.
Everything we make is free. That’s free as in ‘don’t pay for it’ and free as in speech. All of our code is freely available on github here and anyone can change or repurpose without having to ask us first. We’re supported by the volunteers who write the code, create the templates and help out all over.
The open voice factory has helped people talk, from all over the world, in different languages and situations, and in combination with different tools. From paper in Vancouver to eye-tracking systems in Russia.
You can find out more at the project website.
Fake news and misinformation are rampant online and young people are particularly vunerable to it.
However, the innate problem with teaching students to avoid fake news is that they, quite reasonably, don’t trust that teachers or parents are experts in navigating the complex social relationships of their online lives.
We were given a grant of £40,000 by Not-Equal to research better ways of reaching the students.
We asked: who do they trust? They trust each other, and they trust the people they see as ‘good at’ social media.
So we built a set of resources by arranging for influencers to give a series of talks and Q&A lessons to groups of students and then worked with those students to co-create lesson plans (which included asking the influencers to record short snippets on their area of expertise).
Hundreds of students benefited from our created resources during the pilot – and the project website continues to receive thousands of vists every month.
Comments from teachers
- ‘the videos from the Instagram influencers. That was really good to relate it to the real world, especially when this is becoming a quite an aspiring career to get into.’
‘I genuinely think that when I could see lightbulb moments when we were chatting about things, and they were understanding it at the time.’
‘I’ve already had staff saying they thought it should be delivered to all year groups. Someone else who didn’t deliver it, but heard about it, asked me if we could use it again next year’
Comments from students
- ‘I think now we look more aware of how you can spot fake news. And like, it encourages me to like double check or do a lot of research into what I’ve just read.’
‘Project Real definitely made me more confident myself. Like I said before, I know what to do now. Like usually now, when I look at the news, I’ll like double check things to see if any other news, like website has wrote the same thing and like read beyond the headlines.’
‘I feel like I can like when I see it I’d be able to tell if it’s fake news or like fake picture easier than before.’
- ‘For me, I don’t really look at news that much either. But like, especially when I’m scrolling on social media, like, I tend to kind of look at things, especially Instagram, because I’m like, Oh, I wish I could take photos as perfect as that. And then I’m like, wait, but that isn’t real though.’
eQuality Time is a charity our Registered Charity Number is 1177233 (Charity application form) and we are registered at: 68 Truro Gardens, Luton, LU3 2AP. We originally incorporated as a social enterprise on 31st August 2014 with in the form of a Company Number of 09197133, and then converted later.