Feeds

Whiteboards could damage kids and teachers' eyesight

Razzle dazzle 'em

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Interactive whiteboards that are used in schools and colleges across the UK could potentially cause eyesight damage due to a lack of basic government guidelines.

According to an investigation carried out by the BBC, many of the devices used by teachers and school children do not carry adequate warnings about the "dazzle effect" of the light projected.

Whiteboards, which allow teachers to interact with computer desktops, have become increasingly popular in classrooms with the government investing millions of pounds into the technology.

Although the dazzle effect projected from the equipment's beam will be too strong for most people to stare into for very long, the Health and Safety Eexcutive (HSE), which offers guidelines here, warns that a user's peripheral retina could still be overexposed even when not looking directly into the beam.

It advises that, where ever possible, a user should keep their backs to the projector beam to avoid overexposing their eyes.

It says that users "should make sure that direct beam viewing of the optical output from this equipment is both controlled and restricted to no more than a few tens of seconds at a time".

It also suggests that the light projected from whiteboards should be set at no more than 1500 lumens.

A lumen is the unit of "luminous flux" which is based on the perceived power of light.

National Union of Teachers representative Mike Harrison told the BBC that he carried out a straw poll in Wiltshire and found that only a small number of people have been told how to safely use the kit.

He added: "It's very difficult to avoid the beam because if you are standing in front and demonstrating a point to the class you immediately want to turn round to know that they are aware of what you are saying, rather than ducking out of the beam. You want to stay there and face the class."

Sam Livermore, owner of Selectasize which has supplied teaching aids to schools for more than 30 years, told the BBC that he has attempted to convince the government to issue whiteboard warnings for several years without success.

He said: "My concern is there are 250,000 whiteboards in the UK used on a daily basis in our schools and five million students."

Speaking to The Register, Livermore said that successive education ministers had failed to respond positively to his recommendations.

He added that the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) welcomed his suggestion to push for the adoption of warnings on all whiteboard kit, but that it was struggling to bring that awareness to the education ministry.

Although guidelines can be found online, Livermore pointed out that warnings should be clearly displayed with all kit issued to schools and colleges.

Last week, under Gordon Brown's newly formed Labour government, the Department for Education and Skills was renamed the Department for Children, Schools, and Families with Ed Balls MP at the helm.

In a statement about the department's makeover, the DCSF said it will "allow us to respond to new challenges that will affect children and families: demographic and socio-economic change; developing technology; and increasing global competition".

According to the Beeb, which also spoke to Dr Christopher Hull - a leading eye expert from City University - little research has been carried out on the potential harmful effects whiteboards may pose to a users' eyesight.

He said:

"What little evidence we have indicates misuse of whiteboards is likely to cause only non-permanent changes. But, in the meantime, there is no reason not to put safety notices up." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.