Tablet gifts a birthday surprise: Digital Lifeline Fund

The first thing Stacey Webb did with the new tablet she got through the government’s Digital Lifeline Fund was a web search for her sister’s birthday gift.

AbilityNet is helping support people with learning disabilities to make the most of the devices they receive through the national scheme.

During our assessment of Stacey’s digital needs, the 32-year-old from Newcastle said she was keen to use the new bit of kit to search for information.

She received her tablet through Stoke-On-Trent City Council’s adult social care, health integration and wellbeing department (with the Digital Lifeline scheme, organisations apply for devices on behalf of individuals). 

“I’ve had the screen made bigger, so it’s easier to read.” 
Stacey, 32, received a tablet through the Digital Lifeline Fund


Tablet is a part of daily life

Stacey says: “First of all I looked up a present for my sister when it was her birthday. I was just looking for ideas - she likes perfume and rosé wine…Using it to get information has been the main thing for me.”

Although Stacey was familiar with using her mother’s tablet, she worried she might make a mistake. “I’d never had my own tablet. I was nervous because you don’t know what you should press and what if it goes wrong?” 

One adaptation that helped, says Stacey, was screen magnification: “I’ve had the screen made bigger, so it’s easier to read.” 

Now Stacey is now so familiar with the tablet that it “feels part of daily life.”

She is currently building up to contacting friends through messaging and video calling apps: “I like texting my friends and asking how they are…I’m going to start using Facebook messenger on the tablet - I’m still learning! I’m going to try and use it for video calls. I use it mostly for looking things up, but I’m going to try and start using it more to message people.”

A picture of Katy Perry from her official website
Alongside the practical benefit of information-gathering, Stacey says the tablet is a confidence booster. “It’s made me feel more confident…because I got a new bit of tech which I’ve learned to use, and I’ve been able to find things out.” 

The tablet, says Stacey, has made a “really good difference” during Covid: “It’s made me feel more confident and positive through Covid.”

Stacey is clearly aware of the tablet’s potential to support her interests. The keen singer and dancer joins a local performing arts group at her community centre twice a week and is looking forward to being in the panto Mother Goose in November. 

She says: “We can’t sing, and we can’t have too many people because of Covid rules, but we do try and dance. We try and read through the lines. I like to learn lines and then dance it through”. Stacey says she loves dancing to songs by Justin Timberlake, Cheryl Cole and Katy Perry.

Ask Stacey for her verdict on the tablet so far, and she does not miss a beat: “It’s built my confidence - it will help everyone who’s got one.” 

Digital Lifeline is an emergency response project delivering devices, data, and digital skills support to digitally excluded people with learning disabilities. It’s funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and delivered by Good Things Foundation in partnership with AbilityNet and Digital Unite. The project is also supported by Learning Disability England, the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, self-advocates and other disability and digital inclusion organisations. Find out more in our impact report

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