AbilityNet Factsheet - January 2022

Technical help and training resources

Although using and interacting with information technology (IT) is becoming increasingly intuitive, it is not a natural process and therefore, some level of training will be needed for anyone. Training is also the most efficient way to improve confidence and encourage further independent learning.

AbilityNet provides free IT support to help older people and disabled people to use technology to achieve their goals. We have a network of friendly volunteers who can help with most major computer systems, laptops, tablet devices and smartphones. Currently, we are providing all of our support remotely.

We are often asked about teaching and training on computer skills, this factsheet provides the details of the companies, charities, and government initiatives that can provide this.

Last updated: January 2022

1. How important is training?

Although using and interacting with information technology (IT) is becoming increasingly intuitive, it is not a natural process and therefore, some level of training will be needed for anyone. Training is also the most efficient way to improve confidence and encourage further independent learning.

Training is most effective when it is spread over time and geared towards the individual, focusing on the tasks they need to carry out and the challenges they may face in doing this. Periodic training helps users to practice and consolidate new skills between sessions.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we do realise that some of the training providers we talk about will be offering either a reduced service or no service at all. We would suggest that if you are able to get online training you do so.

A wide range of private and voluntary organisations offer computer training services. Some of these will be paid services. Many specialist suppliers and software producers provide online guidance and tutorials about how to get the most from their products. There is also a wealth of free training resources available online, including on YouTube, but, of course, this will require a person to be confident enough to use a device to access the Internet.

2. In-person basic IT training

Most in-person training takes place as a group and in a classroom-style where computers are provided and are all set up the same with the programmes you will be learning.

Whilst there may be private IT tutors who can provide IT training at home, this can be expensive and is largely unregulated. Private providers are not included in this factsheet.

Online Centres Network

This is a Government initiative to enable everyone in the UK that wants it, to have access to the internet and e-mail near to where they live. It could be in an Internet Café on the High Street, in a public library, in a college, in a community centre, a village hall or anywhere available to the public. There is a handy map on their website, so you can find a centre near you! 

Tel: 0114 221 0410

Web: https://www.onlinecentresnetwork.org/ournetwork/find-centre#/map

Schools and Colleges

Many schools and colleges run IT courses from beginner to advanced and many are also Learndirect centres, who provide paid-for training. You can contact your local college directly and ask about IT courses for adult learners.

There are also grants and loans available for adult learners:

Web: https://www.gov.uk/grant-bursary-adult-learners

Libraries and Local Authorities

Your local library and local media are a couple of useful sources of information for local training courses. Many local authorities also offer computer training for beginners, some examples are listed below:

Local Schemes

London based – Net Worx Computer classes

Net Worx digital inclusion programme offers free computer and training sessions and internet lessons at community centres across London.

Tel: 0800 022 4040

Email: networx@peabody.co.uk

Web: https://www.peabody.org.uk/community-programmes/digital-training

Apple stores

Apple stores run free courses on using Apple products (eg. the MacBook, iPad or iPhone) and how to use them.

Web: https://www.apple.com/uk/today/

3. IT training for mature Learners

Age UK

Local Age UK branches (formerly known as Age Concern) offer various services, dependent on their size and local need, and may include computer training.  Contact your local Age UK branch and ask about local training opportunities

Telephone: 0800 678 1174

Web: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/in-your-area/it-training/

4. IT training for disabled people

IT Support at Home

Although AbilityNet does not offer direct training, they offer a Home Visit Service provided through a network of friendly, trustworthy (disclosure-cleared), volunteers who are able to offer support with:

  • Setup of equipment
  • Adjusting your computer, tablet or smartphone to make it easier for you to use (accessibility settings)
  • Diagnosing and helping with computer related problems
  • Accessing the internet, email and social media
  • Helping you get more form your computer, such as online shopping, video calls to friends, playing music or games

We are also able to help you start online training via the Learn My Way website.

To find a local volunteer please contact AbilityNet on 0800 269545 or email enquiries@abilitynet.org.uk

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People)

The RNIB run a national computer support network of volunteers aimed at helping blind and partially sighted people experiencing technical difficulties.

Tel: 0845 604 2341

Web: www.rnib.org.uk

The RNIB also have a website which identifies training opportunities.

Web: http://www.sightlinedirectory.org.uk

5. Online courses and support

Once you are more confident with using a computer and accessing the Internet, you may want to develop your skills further. The following organisations have online information and courses to help you continue to improve your knowledge.


The BBC provides free online resources and training:

  • Webwise (A beginners' guide to using computers and the internet)
  • BBC Bitesize (Resources and revision material)

The Open University

The Open University (OU) runs IT courses ranging from free introductory courses through to paid-for degree and master’s courses:

TAVIP-Technical Association for Visually Impaired People- Formerly British Computer Association of the Blind (BCAB)

This is a self-help online community group that promotes and encourages the use of technology amongst all blind and partially sighted people. They offer:

  • Impartial advice about computers, tablets, mobiles and assistive technologies;
  • Campaigning for equal access to technology and the internet;
  • Hosting an independent technology help line and discussion forum;
  • Producing technology articles, tutorials and webinars;
  • Holding technology meetups and events.

Tel: 0203 637 6070

Web: https://www.tavip.org.uk/

6. How AbilityNet can help you

My Computer My Way

My Computer My Way is an AbilityNet run website packed with articles explaining how to use the accessibility features built into your computer, tablet or smartphone. The site is routinely updated as new features and changes are made to the Windows, MacOS, iOS, Chrome OS and Android operating systems. The site is broken down into the following sections:

  • Vision – computer adjustments to do with vision and colour
  • Hearing – computer adjustments to do with hearing, communication and speech
  • Motor – computer adjustments to do mobility, stamina and dexterity
  • Cognitive – computer adjustments to do with attention, learning and memory

Use it for free at mcmw.abilitynet.org.uk

Advice and information

If you have any questions please contact us at AbilityNet and we will do all we can to help.

IT support at Home

If you’re looking for in-person support, you can book a free visit from one of our disclosure-checked volunteers. Many of our volunteers are former IT professionals who give their time to help older people and people with disabilities to use technology to achieve their goals. Our friendly volunteers can help with most major computer systems, laptops, tablet devices and smartphones.


Copyright information

This factsheet is licensed by AbilityNet under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. View a copy of this license at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

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