Growing independence for Jameela: Digital Lifeline

When Jameela moved house a few weeks ago, she could shop online and furnish her new flat thanks to a national project encouraging digital skills among people with learning disabilities.

“I bought a new cooker, fridge and freezer online, and I got new lights for my flat,” says the 59-year-old trans woman from Hertfordshire. “It’s good because things can be a bit dearer in a shop, and then you have to carry the stuff home.”

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Jameela sits at a desk with her free tablet from Digital Lifeline
In addition, Jameela has also done some food and clothes shopping online and checks her finances using online banking.

Jameela received a tablet under the government’s Digital Lifeline Fund, an emergency response set up during Covid-19.

She got the device through the self-advocacy group Herts People First – only organisations can apply for tablets on behalf of individuals through the scheme.

Offering tailored free support

AbilityNet provided free support to recipients and assessed Jameela’s needs, including help for her hearing, mobility, dexterity, and concentration issues. In addition, our specialist assessors recommended apps and adaptations to help Jameela meet her goals, like going online for games, video calls, web searches and shopping.


We recommended a large letter keyboard, headphones, a mouse and shortcut buttons. Shortcuts mean that Jameela can jump from the home screen to a task. She has also found the device easier for video calls after we supplied her with a tablet cushion.

Jameela, who lives independently with visiting support, found it difficult when her regular support worker visits suddenly stopped under lockdown.

“I didn’t have anybody visiting, and I couldn’t see anyone. I got myself in a bit of a mess with things like putting out the rubbish. It was a lot better keeping in touch after I got the tablet.”

Image shows Jameela a trans woman in front of the tablet she received via Digital Lifeline
“I didn’t have anybody visiting, and I couldn’t see anyone. I got myself in a bit of a mess with things like putting out the rubbish. It was a lot better keeping in touch after I got the tablet.”
Jameela
 

Attending online church services

The regular churchgoer was able to join the weekly services she had desperately missed: “It felt so good to be there online, it felt like I was there.” Jameela has also kept up with the football news at her favourite clubs Watford and Hitchin Town, going straight to the club websites using shortcuts.

Although Jameela had only used computers before, not tablets, she was keen to learn. “I got a smartphone after the first lockdown, but the screen is very small - it’s much better on the tablet.”

Jameela’s next goal is to get broadband in her new flat as her tablet frequently runs out of data. AbilityNet has advised Jameela to take advantage of BT’s low-cost tariff making the Internet more inclusive for lower-income people.

Jameela is clear about the vital role of her new digital skills: “Since lockdown, we've had to do things other ways like if we hadn’t had Zoom, I don’t know where we’d be. It’s meant people can carry on doing what they do.”

How AbilityNet can Help

How AbilityNet has already supported individuals during the pandemic