RNIB bags £5.8m lottery funding for digital inclusion project


The Big Lottery Fund is to pay out 5.8 million to support a UK project that aims to teach digital skills to people suffering from hearing and sight problems.

The three-year project is being spearheaded by the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB), and aims to train 125,000 people in basic online skills so they can confidently use web-based resources to shop online, pay bills and gain employment.

They will be taught how to use the internet through a mix of events, surgeries, training sessions and home visits.

The initiative is volunteer-led, and also seeks to boost awareness of the range of equipment and assistive programmes that exist today to help those with sight and hearing impediments access the internet.

The funding will be used to deliver on the above, as well as train further volunteers and encourage private and public sector firms to get involved too.

Dawn Austwick, CEO of the National Lottery's Big Lottery Fund, said the internet has the potential to make the everyday lives of those suffering sensory loss easier, but many don't where to start.

"This is why it is important that the Online Today project will offer a tailored approach according to people's needs, including one-to-one advice and the use of mobile resources and home visits to accommodate those who are homebound or in rural areas," she said.

Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE, the CEO of the RNIB, added: "The internet and new technology is an increasingly important part of modern life and for people who have sight or hearing loss, being able to get online confidently can make a real difference to being able to live independently and as part of an inclusive community."

The project is part of a wider push by the Big Lottery Fund to clamp down on digital exclusion, and a further 9 million has been earmarked to support other efforts in this area.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.