'Online Today', a new UK scheme designed to help the visually and hearing impaired use the internet, has been launched by the Royal National Institute of Blind People. Following a multi million pound grant, the programme will look to help those with sensory disabilities to learn new skills through training, in order to effectively and comfortably use online services and devices in their everyday lives.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People is an organisation set up to help anyone affected by vision loss. This can cover people who are beginning to suffer sight deterioration as well as those registered as blind or partially sighted. Not only do the RNIB look to help from a practical point of view, they also offer advice and support from an emotional aspect due to the devastating effects such a sensory loss can have on an individual. Their roll in the lives of those suffering from a degradation of sight can be summed up aptly by the following message which they promote, "being there, independence, included."
The RNIB are the driving force behind Online Today which is designed to help and encourage people use the internet, regardless of sight or hearing loss. The prospect of using online services can be daunting for someone suffering from vision loss, especially in a world where trends have changed from having the biggest monitor screen on the street, to predominantly using a touch screen mobile device, just inches in size. Online Today will offer guidance and more importantly instill confidence in those who are perhaps unsure of where to start. A few areas they will help are:
- Setting up social media accounts to stay in touch with friends and family
- How to use software services such as Skype
- Online shopping and bill payments
- Support for using your mobile phones, tablets and other handheld devices
Recently, other companies have been looking to help those with vision disabilities use the internet, such as Google with their Color Enhancer to help people who are colour blind.
A team of over 1000 staff and volunteers are already on hand to help, with some areas able to access one to one, in home training from the project. This is alongside the Technology Support Squad from the RNIB. The TSS can offer quick and easy help in regards setting up your home devices and software, and not just limited to computer equipment. TV's, radios, internet connections... they are all part of the range of support options.
The Big Lottery Fund of £5.8m will enable this project to take off and help the ever growing percentage of people in the UK that use the internet every day, go about their daily activities.