Specialkidz International with the support of other Charitable Enterprises has set up the METEC Special Needs Research & Development Unit.

Ken Carter, James de Albuquerque, Dr Teresa Tavassoli & other colleagues are delighted that Sigrid & Vinton Cerf are now our Honorary Chairs of the Fundraising & Leadership Committee.

The Role of METEC

METEC (Medical & Educational Technology Enterprises Consortium) is a group of charitable & non- profit making companies which will be responsible for promoting and directing the proposed Special Needs Research & Development Unit. METEC comprises the following charitable organisations:

  • GOALS4Life
  • Decibels
  • Deafax
  • Deaf Aspirations
  • SpecialKidz International
  • Access-Ability Communications Technology (AACT)
  • Ability2Access
  • Deaf Sports & Football Foundation (DSFF)


The Research & Development Unit wants to undertake relevant & essential worldwide research programmes concerning SPECIAL NEEDS which would incorporate medicine, different forms of disability, cybernetics, technology and education


The Research & Development Unit wants its research to be highly innovative by incorporating the latest technological developments in this fast changing internet & digital world.

A Brief History

In 1982, Professor Harold Silver who was Principal of Bulmershe College of Higher Education (which is now the Institute of Education, University of Reading) invited Ken Carter to become a Senior Research Fellow to a Berkshire College’s Consortium and to address the issues of FHE (Further, Higher and Continuing Education) for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students.

Three years later in 1985, Professor Silver helped and encouraged Ken to set up Deafax as a registered charity, but to be based on the Bulmershe campus, which would have a remit to address and challenge the issues of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), language, literacy, communication and inclusion for deaf and hearing children, young people and adults locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

When Bulmershe merged with the University, Deafax continued to offer its many innovative and support services to deaf and hearing personnel and students throughout the University. After a period of being the Berkshire Advisory Lecturer on Special Needs, Ken later took charge of Deafax and helped the organisation at one point to generate an income of £1million. It has continued to make considerable progress over the past 30 years - see deafax.org for more detailed information.

What would the Unit offer?

The new Research & Development Unit would be set up to undertake the following:

  • Fund and research development programmes focused on medical, cybernetics, science and educational technology-based initiatives in the areas of deafness, autism and other related disabilities involving speech, language and communication, to enhance learning, understanding and communication.
  • Roll out internationally-recognised research and development activities.
  • Create a worldwide network of professional contacts with Universities, research bodies, government agencies and professional organisations so that the pioneering work of GOALS4LIFE & other named educational enterprises are represented and promoted.
  • Publish the outcomes of our research and development studies through reputable media outlets, research publications, conferences and websites.
  • Study trends of current and emerging technologies and evaluate their potential for improving the social, educational, employment and quality of life of deaf and disabled people globally.

Areas of Research to be undertaken

This is just a brief outline of the areas of research to be undertaken by the Unit:

  • Engage in Global Internet Policy development and the identification of new technologies
  • Develop AI (Artificial Intelligence) techniques which have become an essential part of the technology Industry helping to solve many challenging problems in computer science and operations research.
  • Explore cybernetics as a scientific study of how humans, animals and machines control and communicate with each other.
  • Demonstrate how CRAS (Complexity/Resources/Abstractness & Strategy) offers a generic framework for analysing the cognitive demands that tasks place on learners
  • Examine the challenges for future research on cochlear implants-they are-enormous individual differences & variability in outcomes; lack of pre-implant predictors of outcomes; and what to do with cochlear implant users with poor outcomes.
  • Study Deaf Education worldwide through contexts, challenges & considerations
  • Review the education of Autistic children & young people worldwide
  • Address the challenges of mental illness and neurodegenerative diseases as well as exploring what we can learn from the direct study of human brain tissue to gain insight into the human brain.
  • Review ways of improving Mental Health services for Deaf people worldwide
  • Review the employment of deaf & disabled people and people with health conditions.
  • Impact of deafness on early communication skills and social-cognitive development
  • Confirm that Assistive Technologies really can help people with Deafness & Autism? Digital tools seem to have the power to help deaf & autistic people communicate and gain confidence as well as making visual images more accessible.

What benefits woudld the Unit bring?

  • Increased interest for researchers of Business, Science & Technology in learning in the area of deafness, autism and other related disabilities
  • Provide a lasting legacy for key stakeholders in aligning technology, business, disability and education.
  • University reputation enhancement
  • Increased interest from potential students with a wide variety of learning disabilities worldwide

Honorary Chairs of the Fundraising & Leadership Committee

Sigrid Cerf who was profoundly deaf before having a cochlear implant, knows a great deal about the importance of medical & educational research in regard to improved hearing, speech and communication. Sigrid has served on the boards of Auditory-Verbal International and the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, where she observed parallels between the aural rehabilitation needed by children who receive a CI and the rehabilitation needed by adults. Read more.

Dr Vinton Cerf is the architect & co-inventor of the Internet, a Vice President at Google and the Honorary President of Deafax,They are worldwide ambassadors and supporters of our Medical & Educational Technological Enterprises Consortium. Dr. Cerf served for 8 years on the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. He is contributing to the “Pacification of Cyberspace”, global internet policy development and the identification of new technologies to support these goals. His insight, innovation, and commitment has transformed the lives of people across the globe and he has revolutionised the way in which we communicate. See https://livestream.com/accounts/2754207/cerf/videos/183169812.

Dr Cerf has received numerous awards for his instrumental work in information technology, including the Turing Award, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, US National Medal of Technology, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the Charles Stark Draper award and Officer of the Legion d’ Honneur.

Engagement with productive & supportive individuals with METEC

We have only selected a small number who have been engaged with our Medical & Educational Technology Educational Consortium Activities over the years:

  • Professor Gordon Marshall CBE – Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading.
  • Rt. Hon the Lord Morris of Manchester – First Minister for the Disabled and responsible for the “Chronically Sick and Disabled Bill.”
  • Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy – world renowned conductor and virtuoso pianist.
  • Dame Evelyn Glennie DBE – a deaf and a virtuoso percussionist.
  • Lord Malcolm Bruce MP – daughter is profoundly deaf
  • Dr Alan Hurwitz – first deaf Vice-president of National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), Rochester, USA.
  • Julia Kaufmann OBE – Former Director of BBC Children in Need. Chair of WhizzKidz
  • Graham Wallace – Director of Merryck and Co, Former CEO of Cable and Wireless.
  • Lucy Woods – CEO of Viatel, Former CEO of WorldCom EMEA.
  • Denis & Eileen Uttley - distinguished friends and Teachers of the Deaf for 40 years;
  • John Davies – Former President of the Old Millfieldians
  • Nicholas Purnell, QC. - a distinguished lawyer with outstanding communication skills.
  • Sir David Bell - former Vice–Chancellor of the University of Reading
  • Lord Michael Berkeley of Knighton, CBE - distinguished composer & Hon. President of Decibels
  • Professor Kevin Warwick - Cybernetics –
  • Professor Hans Haenlein, MBE - IE Concept Building
  • Dr Vesna Stojanovik – School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
  • Professor James Crabbe - Bio-Chemist/Honorary President of AACT
  • Peter N. Boos - Former Managing Director of Ernst & Young; Honorary President of Specialkidz International
  • James de Albuquerque - Shipping Broker, and Director of Specialkidz International
  • Professor Teresa Tavassoli - Centre for Autism, Psychology Dept. University of Reading
  • Karen Goulding - Honorary Vice President of Specialkidz
  • Riccardo Mancuso - Digital Strategy Programmes Manager-Plan International

Working with other Universities Globally

Over the years, METEC has had research & development links with the following universities in the UK and worldwide:

UK: Exeter; Goldsmiths College, London; Newcastle; Birmingham; Loughborough; Wolverhampton; Bristol; Edinburgh & Oxford.

International: Michigan State, USA; Kent State, USA; National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), Rochester Institute of Technology, USA; Gallaudet University, Washington DC; California State University, Northridge, USA

Working with IE & Telecommunications Companies

Deafax’s website was originally funded by Vodafone UK Foundation which has supported us for a number of years, including funding our Learn 4 Life Academy for Young Deaf People.

Other links including BT, Cable and Wireless, 3G, Orange, Microsoft, Google, the British Computer Society and European Computer Driving License (ECDL) have also been supporters and sponsors of different areas of our work, particularly in emerging technologies and research projects.

Grants from Charitable Foundations & Government

Charitable: Esmee Fairbairn, Sobell, Leverhulme Trust, Big Lottery UK, International Community Fund, Camelot, BBC Children in Need, Bridge House Trust, City Parochial, Lloyds TSB, Ellerman and many others over the years.

Government: DfES, DfCSF, NVYO, Various NHS PCTs around Britain, BECTA, Department of Health etc.

Some past Research & Development Activities

  • The Virtual Learning Academy/Viewtalk - developed in order to move into the important area of distance learning for local, regional, national and international purposes.
  • Videonet - this internet video conferencing network was developed between individuals, schools and organisations using different systems such as - iVisit, Camfrog, ViaVideo, MSN and Skype.
  • Mobile phone Video Calling Technology - in partnership with Hutchinson 3G - a significant piece of research has been carried out showing the need for using this type of visual communication with deaf people and how a one handed sign language can be used.
  • Race-on-line / Race to ICT - this work constitutes the London work concerning Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities Deaf people and their use of ICT modules to assist with Essential English, identity and cultural diversity and interactive communication skills development for employment.
  • What do you want? - This looks at ways to increase the success rate and opportunities for young deaf learners by using ICT. Webcams are being used to link up 6 schools so that they share curriculum activities. This programme is to link with the Virtual Learning Centre.
  • The significance of ICT for the reading, writing and communication skills of deaf People - Leverhulme Research Programme.
  • Visual Literacy - continue to work with teachers of the deaf in adopting a highly visual approach to the teaching of reading, writing and communication skills for deaf children.

Enterprises through METEC being explored and developed

  • DeafText/Exe Libris – this is a bespoke software system which was originally developed by Exeter University to help overseas students to gain an acceptable standard of English. The essence of the system is to input text and then strip it down to the bare essentials.
  • UK Master Teachers of the Deaf Programme - this will follow the work undertaken in the USA – see again www.deafed.net
  • Speech Recognition - the intention is to work with Microsoft and Speech Tracker on its use in the classroom involving teachers, deaf children and others with speech challenges.
  • Automatic Text Display - using computer based speech recognition of teacher’s speech in the education of deaf children.
  • Healthy Living through Sport – the idea is to develop a series of ICT modules around activities which link in with the Olympic Games in London 2012 and Deaf Sport UK.
  • Digital Emotional Subtitling (DES) - from research carried out into subtitling, some 80% of those using it are not deaf or hard of hearing. DES will bring the text alive via colour, print, size etc.
  • Deaf Babies/Pre-School Deaf Children - the use of touch screen technology for improving language acquisition.
  • Virtual Signing Avatar – to aid communication for deaf people who use BSL, ASL etc.
  • Home Access to Learning Programme – to continue to work with parents, children and young people within the home environment with the specialised use of ICT, advice, guidance, working with respective schools to enhance learning and improve reading, writing, communication and essential life skills.

Funding requirements for the Research & Development Centre

It is the intention of METEC to launch a worldwide APPEAL for funds through a variety of sources including Individuals, Foundation Trusts, Governments & Companies.