The UK-wide Online Today project, which is funded by a £5.8million Big Lottery Fund grant, will be delivered by leading sight loss charity RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) with the support of 37 delivery partners including Action for Blind People, Action on Hearing Loss, Guide Dogs and Sense.
Internet use in the UK has significantly increased over recent years with 76% of adults accessing the internet every day in 2014, compared to just 38% in 2006. Millions of us rely on the internet for everyday tasks such as shopping, banking and staying in touch with friends and family. However, getting online and using technology can present many challenges for someone who is blind, partially sighted or has hearing loss.
Through a series of workshops, surgeries, one-to-one sessions and even home visits, Online Today will deliver training and advice on how to browse the internet and use smartphones, tablets and computers. Up to 100 volunteers in the West Midlands will help deliver the training.
One of Britain’s most successful Paralympians Kelly Gallagher, who has been partially sighted since birth, is supporting the Online Today project. She said: “I can’t imagine how different my life would be if it wasn’t for technology and the internet. I haven’t any fears when it comes to racing down a ski slope, but without a smartphone I’d struggle to get on the right bus or train on my own or stay in touch with friends and family whilst I’m travelling.
“Nobody should miss out on all the great benefits that being online can offer just because they have a disability and that’s why I’m supporting Online Today and encouraging people with sensory loss to find out how it can help them get online in no time.”
Neil Heslop, Managing Director of RNIB Solutions, said:
“Technology has changed the way we live our lives, from how we communicate and socialise to the way we look for jobs and pay our bills. For people who have hearing or sight loss, being able to get online can make a huge difference to being able to live independently but it can be quite daunting if you don’t know where to start.
“Online Today will deliver the skills, training and confidence that will make a huge difference to so many people’s lives and will make sure they’re not being excluded from today’s digital world.”
There are a number of Online Today events currently being planned in the West Midlands to deliver digital skills training to people with sensory loss.
Online Today is open to anyone who has sight or hearing loss. Anyone who would like to find out more about how Online Today may be able to help them, or a friend or relative, or would like to find out about volunteering, can call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org