University of Edinburgh
 

VISKIDS Chatroom

The chatroom is the UK’s, Europe’s and possibly the World’s only safe and secure chatroom for children with visual impairment.

This year the Chatroom won the ‘Computing Industry’ Special ABILITY Award. This award recognises those who have done most to alleviate disability in the community by enabling disabled people to overcome their disability and attain their full potential. The Judges paid particular attention to innovation and to evidence of substantial impact in changing, for the better, prospects of disabled people.

So far 438 children have joined VISKIDS with 74 children requesting passwords to use the chatroom.

Scottish children now regularly chat to Australian children with visual impairment. This initiative has been set up with the help of the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh and the Royal Society of the Blind in Adelaide Australia.

To use the chatroom children have to be registered with a credible organisation such as:

  • VI Scotland’s VISKIDS club
  • RNIB in the UK
  • Royal Society for the Blind in Australia
  • A Local Authority Special Education department

By having this constraint we are in a position to check the validity of the children applying to use the chatroom. After checks are made the children are issued with a three-tier password system. They are given a unique username, password and nickname. The nickname means that children cannot be identified once in the chatroom (this is a standard security measure when using a chatroom).

The ‘chat’ software used is VOLANO found at http://www.volano.com. It has been adapted by VI Scotland and additional security features incorporated. No other chatroom for visually impaired children has this level of security and functionality.