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Multi-million pound charity and private sector project to help deaf and blind people get online

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Online Today will help people with sight or hearing loss use the internet for everyday tasks such as shopping, banking and staying in touch with family

A multi-million pound project will provide everyday digital skills to 10,500 people with sight and hearing loss in Scotland.

Online Today, a new Big Lottery-funded project, will help people of all ages who have sensory loss overcome the barriers they often face when it comes to getting online and benefiting from technology.

Awarded £5.8 million in funding, the project will be delivered by Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) with the support of 37 partners including charities Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, Guide Dogs and Sense as well as Apple, Nokia and Microsoft.

With 76% of adults accessing the internet every day, Online Today will deliver training and advice on how to browse the internet and use smartphones, tablets and computers through a series of workshops, surgeries, one-to-one sessions and home visits.

Up to 100 RNIB volunteers in Scotland will help to deliver the training so blind people can, like many others, use the internet for everyday tasks such as shopping, banking and staying in touch with friends and family.

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

One of Britain's most successful Paralympians, Kelly Gallagher (pictured), 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."

A number of Online Today events, open to anyone who has sight or hearing loss, are already scheduled over the next few weeks in Scotland to deliver digital skills training to people with sensory loss. These will take place in Edinburgh, Partick, Greenock and Dumfries, with more to follow.

Delia Henry, director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, added: "I am very excited about the new Online Today project which will give people who are deaf the chance to learn about digital technology and make contact with the wider world.

“Being part of the digital community can break down some of the barriers that people with hearing loss often face in their day to day lives and help them communicate with others."

 

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