Working with Slate Leeds to provide devices and online training

Two women working on computer in colourful room with 'Slate' written in decorative writing on the wall

Earlier this year, AbilityNet launched its 'ConnectingU' digital device programme in partnership with tech firm, Lenovo. The partnership has enabled AbilityNet to distribute 300 Lenovo digital devices to clients or volunteers at eligible organisations.

As older and disabled people are disproportionately excluded from the digital world, the ConnectingU project aims to break down the digital divide by providing devices, and - just as importantly - skills, to empower individuals to use the devices independently in the future.

Recipients of the devices received free training and advice through AbilityNet's free Tech Support services including a freephone helpline, online resources and Tech volunteer support. 

Here, we chat with Slate Leeds, an organisation that provides work and training opportunities for adults with learning disabilities. It received a number of devices to share with its clients as part of the scheme.

Can you describe the impact the devices have had on the people they have been distributed to by your organisation?

Our clients have learning disabilities and have never previously been trusted with internet access, and as a result are seriously disadvantaged in daily life. We had such lovely excitement at the prospect we were offering via AbilityNet for people to get online. The devices were distributed to people who had no devices other than basic phones before.

What types of tasks have been undertaken with the devices since receiving them and the Tech help from AbilityNet volunteers?

We have played music, searched for cheap shopping deals, and shopped online for the first time. Some clients have also downloaded streaming services, used online maps and created email accounts... we've been busy! One device user commented "I never thought I'd have my own computer" and others said:

  • "This means I can try the internet"
  • "I'm loving being modern - I have Paramount Plus TV now. There are now no arguments as I can watch my own programmes"
  • "I can fill in online forms rather than having to print out and's brilliant!"

Are there any other barriers you perceive are stopping the individuals your organisation has helped through this scheme from using tech?

Confidence levels are low - non-techy people think they can 'break' computers.

Do you have anything else to share about your tech goals for the future with your organisation?

This is only early days... things are growing and improving.

Many older people and disabled people experience difficulties with their technology, and can’t find the support they need.  Our amazing volunteers provide one-to-one technology support remotely and through home visits. Get involved today - apply to become a volunteer.

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