Big Lottery Fund Awards £5.8m to Give Blind People IT

The Big Lottery Fund has given £5.8m to provide basic online skills and technology training to those in the UK with sight or hearing impairments.

The fund is said to help the Online Today project at the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) work with 37 partners in 195 locations across the UK to tackle the skills gap.

RNIB aims to use the fund to raise awareness of equipment and programmes available to people with sight or hearing loss. The support will be offered through existing networks, surgeries and an advice line.

Existing RNIB volunteers will be trained as the "technology support squad", and beneficiaries will act as "digital champions", sharing skills through peer networks.

RNIB estimate that the Online Today project will enable 125,000 people with sensory loss to develop skills and confidence in technology.

Big Lottery Fund chief executive Dawn Austwick said: "Being confident online can bring opportunities and make life easier for people, particularly those that have an added barrier such as sensory loss.

"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."

The project is said to run for three years, with training for online systems for government support, help with day-to-day tasks such as shopping and paying bills, and those of working age will have access to IT skills to help them gain employment.

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