This week the UK’s biggest digital inclusion campaign, Get Online Week, celebrates its 10th birthday. VoiceAbility will help raise awareness of the need for digital skills for people with learning disabilities and the wider public by partnering with The Tinder Foundation to join the digital conversation by promoting the ‘Speak Out Online’ project. 

‘Get Online Week’ is the UK’s biggest digital inclusion campaign, taking place from 17th-23rd October. It aims to provide support and training for people with limited or no digital skills and to narrow the digital divide. The campaign is managed by The Tinder Foundation, who are funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

People with learning disabilities can find it difficult to access technology and to get the support they need to use on-line services and platforms. Tinder centres have trainers and mentors who can support people to develop their digital skills in a friendly and safe environment. Visit the UK Online Centres website to find out more about how you can take part in Get Online Week. 

VoiceAbility will join the digital conversation during the week to promote our project, ‘Speak Out Online’, which we are partnering with Tinder on. 

‘Speak Out Online’ is a two-year project funded by the Department of Health’s Innovation Fund and aims to improve access for people with a learning disabilities  to online discussions, consultations and service planning through a specially designed digital platform. With a dedicated Project Team which includes digital and social design experts, and involving and consulting with people with learning disabilities its goal is to co-create a digital platform that is accessible and can provide high quality information to service providers.                                                                                                         

                                                    Michelle, Speak Out Council Cambridgeshire Fenland Leader talks about
                                                           accessibility on the internet for people with learning disabilities

Sue Reed, ‘Speak Out Online’s’ Project Manager said: ‘’For us, Get Online Week is an opportunity to get new people involved in our sessions and to co-create digital platform in the way its meaningful for them‘’.

In May, the ‘Speak Out Online’ Team ran three pilot co-creation workshops with people with learning disabilities and their Carers.  A wide range and creative activities were tried out including: creating soap operas featuring service users; using digital technology to make videos; using emoticon cushions to identify good things and bad things in people’s lives; and creating pictorial diaries of good things and bad things during a “week in the life of”.

The co-creation workshops provided insight and were valuable in assessing activities that worked, didn’t work and for capturing lessons learnt and validated the assumption that technology had a huge potential in giving people with learning disabilities a voice. Technology not only gave people choice and control, but allowed them to express their personality and sense of humour. Tablets (especially iPads) were found to be the most accessible and transformative mainstream technology for service users because they were popular, affordable and users were more inclined to try them without training. The research concluded that YouTube has a universal appeal and use across all ages and abilities. It is accessible, fun and used by both people with learning disabilities and supporters. Music videos are the most popular choice. Others liked a wide range of videos from football to meditation to train stations.

In October, ‘Speak Out Online’ introduced a prototype a digital ‘diary’ for people with learning disabilities to record their day onto a secure digital platform rather than paper diaries.  Digital diaries will provide a more immediate and interactive record of what is important to each individual. The Digital Diary can create personal value to those with a learning disability who use it, as well as the potential to build a searchable, anonymous database of information on day-to-day lived experience.  Additionally, service providers can draw on a rich database to inform commissioning and design, as well as reach out to specific target groups for further research.

‘Speak Out Online’ is now refining the tool and re-testing it in pilot areas. They plan on having a working demo in the new year and will be running several events to showcase this in their pilot areas of Gloucestershire, Liverpool City and South Tyneside. They will also be running ‘virtual’ demonstrations for those of you who cannot attend in person.

To register your interest for these events, please contact Sue Reed, ‘Speak Out Online’s’ Project Manager – sue.reed@voiceability.org. For further details about the project, please visit our 'Speak Out Online' page or follow @SpeakOut_SPOOL on Twitter.

As part of Get Online Week, the ‘Speak Out Online’ encourages people to feel confident about going online.

If you know someone who could benefit from getting online, or if you’d like to get a bit of help to brush up on your own IT skills, you can look up an event near you on www.getonlineweek.com, or call free on 0800 77 1234.

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