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Digital Inclusion Revisited

November 15, 2011

When considering the issue of digital inclusion for carers, it is vitally important to look at the subject holistically. That is, it is not only about the hardware and/or software, it is also about the skills, knowledge and experience of the people you wish to ‘include’.

For example, someone might have physical access to the internet but are they able to access the information you are trying to provide for them?  Clearly this generates other questions to ask, concerning related and associated issues connected to accessing information; such as language and format.

For me, this is where the need to look at the ‘bigger picture’ really comes to the fore, highlighting the importance of offering people training to use the internet effectively to retrieve the information they want and in a way that works for them; be that via laptop, netbook, tablet, smart phone, etc.

It also illustrates the advantages of organisations working together effectively to offer services which interface cohesively and coherently at hardware and skill level to maximise the accessibility and reach. Breaks and glitches in these systems will clearly negatively impact on the provision as a whole.

Looking at our particular project, Carers Matters, we are in the process of delivering training courses and information sessions to offer  people the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge to ‘make the most of the internet’  and a site like ours.

In addition, we are also going to be developing online tutorials/walkthroughs and other similar tools to facilitate the site’s usability and  provide people who are unable to attend training sessions with similar learning opportunities.

From taking what is but a small example, this article has shown the importance of looking at the various elements involved in facilitating digital inclusion for carers, including the relevant inter-relationships and appropriate inter-dependencies.

How this actually works in practice remains to be seen. However, regardless of potential conflicts or other similar issues, the need to work together and share good practice remains, if the potential benefits are to reach the most number of people in a way that works.

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