The internet is increasingly becoming the main way people access job opportunities, benefits and even prescriptions and healthcare appointments. This has especially been the case during COVID-19 as libraries, universities, schools and job centres were closed to the public.
Unfortunately, access to the internet is still seen as a luxury and a privilege. This leads to many people not being able to get online and therefore not being digitally included. Some people are struggling to meet their essential needs and access important information, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But access to the internet is a necessity. It is a gateway for people to access and enjoy their human rights to education, work, social security and housing, amongst others. During the COVID-19 lock-down it has been the way for many to connect with friends and family, to get much needed emotional support and to take part in community life.
It is time to change the narrative around digital inclusion. It is time to promote access to the internet as an essential part of everyday life.
Together we can change the narrative. Together we can become Better ConNEcted.
We recognise that culture change can take a long time, and so we're keen to generate practical solutions, getting more people in the North East online and accessing the things they need now.
We are calling on businesses and organisations in the North East to donate their old, second-hand laptops and tablets to the campaign. Better ConNEcted can then redirect them to specific community groups in the region who have requested help accessing equipment. By recycling your old tech in this way, you will be helping local people to be digitally included.
If you have old devices you can offer, then please get in touch at email@example.com.
If you are a community group that needs help accessing equipment and data, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local authorities have a duty and responsibility to improve the well-being of their residents. They must also meet their international human rights obligations.
We want to work with North East local authorities to increase their commitment to promoting digital inclusion in their areas. We are starting by presenting a council motion and briefing to all 12 local councils (July 2020). The motion calls upon councils and mayors to:
Promote and support efforts to improve digital inclusion in their areas
Ensure digital inclusion is a priority across all council departments and committees, updating existing policies and practices to reflect this
Work with local groups/organisations to improve digital inclusion, especially in relation to the design and delivery of services
Download our Local Authority Briefing on Digital Inclusion here.
We want those with disabilities to enjoy equal access to the internet., so we are supporting local businesses and organisations to improve their disability accessibility. This includes making sure websites are compatible with screen readers and offering online information in easy-read formats.
We have sourced funding to develop and provide training to those in the North East VCSE sector who provide online services or information. Starting in January we will run a series of accessibility training on:
1. Introduction to Accessibility
2. Online meetings and social media
3. Website Design
4. Office documents and email
Please contact email@example.com for more information.
Another campaign, Manifesto for a Better Normal are calling for and EPIC response to create a fairer, better normal for disabled people.
What will your EPIC response be?
For more information about accessibility software and resources please see our Help & Support page.