100% Digital Leeds are working with third sector partners across the city to improve digital inclusion and participation for autistic people and people with learning disabilities, and supporting our ambition to make Leeds the most digitally inclusive city for everyone.
The barriers that autistic people and people with learning disabilities can face when it comes to doing things online are often more pronounced than those without:
- 70% of UK websites are not compliant with accessibility standards, and only 2% of the world’s most popular websites meet the legal minimum requirements for accessibility, so even if someone has the equipment and skills, they may still be ‘designed out’ of using digital products and services.
- Only 1 in 4 adults with learning disabilities is in work, which tends to mean reduced spending power.
- Many people with learning disabilities miss out on the life-enriching experiences that the internet can provide if their carers, support workers or families think they are too vulnerable to the potential dangers that the internet can present and therefore restrict their access and usage, limiting their personal choice and freedom.
- There are limitations on accessing Wi-Fi in some residential settings (e.g. some who live in certain supported accommodation aren’t allowed to access the Wi-Fi on personal devices as it is deemed to be a security risk).
- Internet users with a learning disability are more likely than non-disabled internet users to use the internet via publicly accessible computers (23% vs. 16%), so the physical closure of community spaces in 2020 has affected those people who need free access and training to participate in an increasingly digital society.
- It may be more difficult for some people to learn some online skills due to differences in processing new information.
- Literacy needs can also obstruct comprehension of online information, and there are not always alternative options such as video, audio and images which can help to facilitate a better understanding for more people in an inclusive way.
The ALaDDIN Network was created in response to the changes and challenges that organisations faced in adapting their delivery of services as a result of Covid-19. During the pandemic, and with the closure of physical spaces used by third sector organisations (many of which support people with learning disabilities), 77% of these organisations have reported that a lack of digital access and skills has been a problem when engaging remotely with service users.
Jez Coram, Development Worker (Learning Disabilities) at Forum Central explained,
“As Day Services and Opportunities for people with learning disabilities and autistic people have been restricted or closed due to Covid-19, it is critical that there is a digital day service offer until face to face services can resume in full again. The challenge is addressing the digital divide that was present for people with learning disabilities and autistic people before Covid-19. There is brilliant digital inclusion work happening across third sector organisations in Leeds, helping to maintain the physical and mental wellbeing of the people they support. ALaDDIN is crucial in addressing the digital divide and co-ordinating the third sector’s digital inclusion response.”
100% Digital Leeds are working with our partners and people with learning disabilities and autistic people to build a citywide infrastructure that helps provide solutions to these barriers, and to create an inclusive, person-centred model of digital activity and participation. This includes developing training opportunities for individuals, family members, carers, support workers, and staff/volunteers at organisations, as well as sharing best practice, common challenges, opportunities for funding and partnership working, and promoting the Network as a unified and coordinated entity that has a greater combined influence.
You can watch a video of some of our partner organisations’ work in 2020, showcasing how each has responded creatively to the pandemic by supporting their members to get online and take part in a wide range of activities.
Leeds now has a dedicated Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Coordinator. The role has been funded by the NHS Leeds CCG, and is matrix managed by Pyramid of Arts (Third Sector) and 100% Digital Leeds (Leeds City Council).
The coordinator is working closely with the Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Network on 4 key areas of work:
- Coordination and Cross Promotion
- Digital Infrastructure
The coordinator will also work with on other initiatives across Leeds to accelerate and maximise digital inclusion to achieve better outcomes for health and wellbeing for autistic people and people with learning disabilities.
Carley joined us at the end of April 2021 and will be in post until 2023. If you are interested in finding out more about digital inclusion for autistic people and learning disabilities, please feel free to contact Carley: Carley@pyramid.org.uk / 07549782796
Autism and Learning Disability Digital Inclusion Network partners include:
- Aspire CBS
- Carers Leeds
- Caring for Life
- Chapeltown Citizen’s Advice Bureau
- Connect in the North
- Creative Support
- Haqooq Aspire for More
- Leeds Autism Services
- Leeds Jewish Welfare Board
- People in Action
- People Matters
- Purple Patch Arts
- Snaps Yorkshire
- Specialist Autism Services
- Volition (Forum Central)
- Yorkshire Dance