14-20 June is Learning Disability week and Mencap are celebrating the art and creativity that has helped many people with a learning disability stay connected and positive through the challenges of last year.

We already know from our NHSx Stay Connected project how important creative expression has been for people as they faced increased isolation through having to stay at home for so long. So we were excited to hear that the Digital Lifeline project has distributed over 5,500 devices to adults with learning disabilities, along with the data and digital skills support to use these devices safely and with confidence.

Digital Lifeline is an emergency response project funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and delivered by Good Things Foundation in partnership with AbilityNet and Digital Unite. The project is supported by Learning Disability England, the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, self-advocates and other disability and digital inclusion organisations.

Almost three quarters of people with a learning disability said their wellbeing was affected by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and those without digital skills faced a huge additional barrier to accessing essential services and staying connected with loved ones.

We are already working in partnership with Digital Unite on their Zoom training resource and are, therefore, well-placed to help evaluate the success of the Digital Lifeline project by talking to people with learning disabilities about their experience with their new internet-ready tablets. Ajay Choksi, RIX team member and Wiki Master put it like this:

“We’re going to work on the Digital Lifeline evaluation…it feels good!”

As part of this work, Ajay has showcased his Multi Me to show others how helpful it has been to connect people up on the platform. Ajay continues to develop his advocacy leadership skills through projects like these and is recording this journey of development in his new Advocacy Leadership Wiki.

The Digital Lifeline project has shown us all how important it is for us all to work together to find solutions to the social isolation of vulnerable groups, especially during the pandemic and the support and partnership of the wider learning disability sector has been essential to the project’s swift roll-out and success.

You can find out more about Learning Disability week and get involved here

Learning Disability week 2021

 

RIX EasySurvey is our groundbreaking accessible survey tool, fun and easy to use for both survey creators and survey voters.

We have made some exciting improvements to RIX EasySurvey and want to share these with you. The improvements are designed to make our software easier to use and are in direct response to suggestions from our community of users.

Most recent survey first

We’ve changed the way we present your surveys. The survey that was edited most recently is now at the top of your survey list.

More detailed activity information

When a voter responds to a Text entry question, you’ll notice that the results are displayed in the word cloud. We’ve now added the last 10 responses too, directly under the word cloud.

Survey complete message

We’ve listened to you and updated our standard survey completion message to voters. The new messaging simply thanks voters for their participation.

RIX branding

We’ve updated the RIX EasySurvey branding to reflect the RIX and University of East London’s smart new logo.

Save question also saves survey

We listened to our user community on this one. You said that clicking Save question, then Save survey, was a click too many! We’ve changed the Save question action to also save the survey from now on.

We’ll be updating our training resources to reflect these changes.

Try EasySurvey Lite today for free

MEDICI’s final conference, Digital Inclusion For All, took place on 26-28 January 2021. MEDICI is a pan-European EU-funded project that maps digital inclusion and hosts the MEDICI Knowledge Community.

The primary goal of the conference was to address the challenges of digital exclusion and discuss emerging good practices in the field of digital inclusion in Europe. The conference consisted of three days of presentations and discussions on the theme of better digital inclusion for vulnerable groups in Europe and beyond.

With 34 speakers and over 800 participants from 33 countries, participants had the opportunity to meet practitioners and experts, be inspired by keynote speeches, and learn about different approaches in a series of workshops. RIX co-director Gosia was invited to give a keynote presentation to a parallel session, Integrating older people and people with disabilities in the digital world. This session also included a presentation by Ineke Schuurman, from Belgium, about the Able to Include project.

Gosia took the conference on a brief history tour of RIX and talked about the Living Lab concept and the Participatory Action Research model. She described the digital journey from early digital cameras all the way through to the development of multimedia tools like the RIX Wiki and Multi Me software. She spoke passionately about Multimedia Advocacy and the guiding principle of keeping the person at the centre of everything we do when working with and supporting people with learning disabilities.

In the discussion that followed, Gosia was able to promote the idea of peer-to-peer learning, citing the shining example of RIX team member Ajay Choksi who has continued to develop his excellent peer-to-peer training skills over the past year. When another delegate was inclined to put significant limits on people’s potential to learn by continually referring to their notional ‘mental age’, Gosia was quick to remind everyone that constantly equating a person’s ‘mental age’ with the inability to learn new things overlooks the fact that this adult person will have the life experience of an adult.

“When people are excluded, they lose out and we lose out…this group of people can really contribute to society and they need to be visible”

Gosia also touched on the theme of digital exclusion when asked about the onboarding process of the recent TechForce19 Stay Connected project. Project partners and their respective services found that in many cases people with learning disabilities did not have access to the technology that the rest of us take for granted – smart devices, internet access and a familiarity with the digital environment. As a consequence, people were often excluded from taking part in the project, missing out on the opportunity to connect with others during these challenging times.

Digital inclusion for all, therefore, starts with tangible, practical steps and includes not only the provision of technology and support but also the commitment not to underestimate people’s ability to learn.

MEDICI YouTube channel

Conference presentations

Able to Include