Broadening access to independent living and learning for disabled people through digital participation
1 in 5 people in Scotland lack basic digital skills. We know that many disabled people in Scotland are not online and are therefore disadvantaged in their quest for independent living and learning. I want to talk briefly to you about three ways by which we have co-designed learning opportunities and approaches, in partnership with disabled people and carers, to widen access to the internet for independent living and learning, building their confidence and capability.
Slide 2: Learner at home, who has agoraphobia and is supported by a volunteer to learn seated with her Learning Coordinator Informal learning: Informal learning happens when people share skills and knowledge. Our workers and volunteers offer one to one bespoke support to learn relevant digital skills in learners homes or in community venues on their own devices or they borrow ICT kit from us. This breaks down lots of barriers to learning, greatly builds confidence and we support their progression. Once they have had a taste they always want to learn more!
Support to learn assistive technology: There are thousands of ways to make devices, laptops and computers accessible through software, peripherals and apps as other speakers on the panel will know very well. We support disabled people to assess their own assistive technology needs and preferences and then provide support to learn what works best. We start from the no cost, low cost options. We support people to self assess what works for them, navigate options and provide one to one support to learn so that they are prepared when they come to use it on their own.
Slide 3: Photo of a group of learners learning ICT in sheltered accommodation
Non formal learning: Non formal learning occurs where people come together in groups to learn, without getting accreditation. They can learn anywhere where they can travel too and this is a more social way of learning. For example, we supported groups of older disabled people in the Highlands and North Lanarkshire within supported housing complexes through a basic level Getting Digital course in order that they could communicate with family and access services. The housing association provided the space to learn and the broadband. A local grant provided money for equipment which residents could then keep and we provided learning sessions via our staff and volunteers. A partnership model for success.
Slide 4: Screendump of the participants on the video platform GoToMeeting participating in our online Thinking Digital course
Formal learning: We have developed a digital skills course called Thinking Digitially which enables people to become more digitally agile as they gain credit, At SCQF level 6 and with 12 credits. It is paper free and can be done at home because the one a week group sessions are conducted online. We keep the groups small, say 5 or 6 so that people can use webcams and the chat facility to have a supported meaningful peer experience.
Our digital course is different because it is context free which means that learners can make it relevant for their own context. People are therefore free to choose their own subject but they are all assessed on the development of their digital skills. We have an accessible eportfolio system and very broad categories for assessment so there are no ‘special’ arrangements. Everyone is encouraged to generate evidence in a way that suits them.
All participants work towards building a digital artefact like a blog, wiki, prezi or website. At the heart of learning how to use the many free tools is the important discussion about access and inclusion when they are building or curating their digital artefacts. They have to demonstrate their understanding of accessibility and show how they have taken steps to maximise the accessibility of their artefact. WE have had guest speakers with accessibility expertise give sound advice.
I’m happy to take any questions about our 3 approaches to learning and I have a question for you too. There have never been more global and free online learning opportunities but how accessible are these opportunities for disabled people? We have concerns that they amplify the voices of people who already have higher education. How we can work together to widen access to these online opportunities.
RIWC_Para_A189 Broadening access to independent living and learning for disabled people through digital participation
access to digital
Emma Whitelock, CEO
Lead Scotland, Linking Education and Disability