UK online centres has launched a £380,000 initiative called the Disability Network to help more disabled people online.
Over 50 of 3,800 UK online centres have joined the Disability Network, providing assistive technology, training and support to the 3.98m disabled people who, according to the Office of National Statistics, have never been online.
People with a disability, learning difficulty or health problem can visit one of the Disability Network centres to find help and support to use computers and the internet. Each centre has received £7,500 to spend on kit, staff and promotional programmes.
People with a disability make up just under half of the total offline population of 8.2 million and they are amongst the hardest to reach, often needing specialist support get started, says UK online centres.
“The network has been established to help tackle this issue, and will bring grassroots delivery organisations together with national bodies, including Abilitynet, RNIB and others to provide a coordinated approach.”
UK online centres has appealed for other centres who support disabled people get online to sign up, and join the campaign.
“It’s clear from the statistics that people who are disabled are much more likely to be offline than anyone else in the population - and they often have more to gain from being online than anyone, “ says Sarah Stabler, network manager for the Disability Network.
“If we’re going to achieve a leading digital nation, we need to focus our support on this group of people, and ensure we are doing all we can to help everybody get online.
“Now the network has been set up, we’re really keen to grow it and ensure there is great coverage across the country so anyone with a disability who wants to get online can find the specialist help and support they need. We want to invite organisations from all over the country who support people with a disability to get online to join the network.”
The Disability Network will support those with a range of disabilities, including those with learning difficulties, mental health problems, mobility problems and hearing difficulties and many others.
Centres in the Disability Network are based all over England, and organisations who are already UK online centres, or those from outside the network, are being encouraged to join. Centres can join the network by visiting www.ukonlinecentres.com/joinus.