Disability Digital Inclusion | Getting Tenants Connected
Zetetick had been looking at ways to increase learning disability digital inclusion for our tenants for a while, and we had been looking at digital assistants in particular as devices that have a variety of uses and so might offer the best all-round solution. Digital assistants offer internet access, video calls, calendars, reminders, entertainment, and voice-activated commands.
At the beginning of 2021 Zetetick received a grant from Lambeth Council’s digital inclusion fund which was set up in 2020 in response to the pandemic and its disproportionate affects on particular groups, including disabled people and those with learning disabilities.https://love.lambeth.gov.uk/digital-inclusion-fund/ This has enabled us to get our pilot Alexa project off the ground in Lambeth, and some of our tenants in the area now have a top of the range Echo which we hope will make their lives easier and more fun.
A team effort
In addition to working with Lambeth Council, Zetetick is partnering with ClearCommunityWeb, a CIC (Community Interest Company) experienced in delivering digital skills training to vulnerable and marginalised adults. They will help our tenants use the devices based on what their needs, interests and hobbies are, as well as teaching them about safety online.
The photo above shows Caspar Kennerdale, from ClearCommunityWeb, completing the set up of the Echo with one of our tenants and showing him how to play music on the device, and a good time was had by all. https://clearcommunityweb.co.uk/
We are also working with Frontier Support Services who work with our Lambeth tenants. Their support workers are an important part of helping to make the pilot work, as they will support the tenants in using the devices in their daily lives. https://www.frontiersupport.co.uk/
The digital divide
Research by the ONS (Office for National Statistics) in 2018 found that 10% of the adult UK population had either never used the internet, or had not used it i the previous 3 months. It also found that in all age groups disabled people made up a large proportion of adult non-users. There are various reasons for excluded from the digital world: not being able to afford broadband, not being aware of what technology can do to improve our lives, and not having the relevant skills to use the devices.
One of the causes of the digital divide is lack of connectivity, and this is nearly always due to people not being able to afford a landline and broadband. For those of us who are used to doing so much on the internet without questioning it, it can be easy to take this for granted. A lot of people have to make stark decisions about how they spend their money, and if it comes down to a choice of heating your home and buying food or paying for a landline it’s then easy to see why the divide exists.
Part of Lambeth’s brief when launching their digital inclusion fund was that the money should not only be spent on devices, but also on addressing the problem of connectivity. Zetetick are peased that we have been able to use some of the funds received to provide landlines and broadband for tenants who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford them. That is why the although the router shown above looks pretty boring it is actually quite special – it is providing online access to someone who was previously excluded from the online world and all the benefits it brings.
Digital access and Covid-19
The digital divide has become even more of a problem since Covid-19 as access to technology and the internet has become more important in our daily lives.
We have all been missing seeing friends and family during lockdown, but people with learning disabilities were much more likely to experience feelings of loneliness and isolation before the pandemic. So much of modern life is now conducted online, for example access to health advice and medical appointments, government and local authority services, utilities, support services, job applications, social media – the list goes on.
Benefits for people with learning disabilities
Zetetick has high hopes for this learning disability digital inclusion project and we plan to expand disability digital inclusion into other areas.
If you know of any similar grant funding available for disability digital inclusion in the South East please let us know.
If you would like to donate to our disability digital inclusion fundraiser, Smart Money for Smart Homes, you can do so here Smart money for smart homes – from £15