For years people with disabilities have had to live their day to days lives in a world that was primarily designed for people with no disabilities. Thankfully assistive technologies have entered our lives via modern computers and smartphones and this has helped people with disabilities live in an ever changing modern world. If you have limited vision, an iPad and iPhone will allow you to change the text size, change the view so that you can zoom in on what the main screens display and also use Siri to read and write emails and texts. Whilst assistive technologies have changed the lives of many, where can you get help on what you should be using and where you can buy it? That’s where the NCBI come in.

NCBI, the national sight loss agency has unveiled a new initiative called DigiPlace4all. DigiPlace4all is an online peer support community that will help people with disabilities build the digital skills needed to transition from VET training to mainstream education & employment. It was recently launched in Dublin and over the next few months it will be introduced to other parts of Ireland via roving roadshows.

DigiPlace4all is an online peer support community for students with disabilities, educators and employers. Digital literacy is vital for students and young people looking for employment. Students with disabilities face significant barriers to accessing training in the digital skills they need, with factors such as cost, physical access and lack of information putting mainstream training out of reach.

DigiPlace4all is promoted and sustained by Digital Inclusion Champions who are people with disabilities, educators and employers who are creative and motivated to lead innovative projects in digital skills building and digital inclusion. Digital Inclusion Champions will actively assist in the development of the DigiPlace4all community by sharing innovative ideas which have proven to be successful.

You will be wondering what Digital Inclusion Champions are and according to DigiPlace4all they are defined as someone who voluntarily plays a role in supporting the DigiPlace4All community and helps promote inclusion and/or digital skills for its members. The champions can be person or an organisation operating in any arena with access to relevant audiences who are also very important when it comes to creating and sustaining a successful online community based on the DigiPlace4All platform.

The champions play an active role inside the DigiPlace4all community, offering advice, information and support to other members who want to increase their digital skills or improve the accessibility of educational environments or workplaces.

Champions help to promote DigiPlace4all to relevant audiences, nationally and internationally, as a place where they can give and get peer support, share and discuss digital skills and digital inclusion. They promote Digiplace4all among their peers encouraging them to get involved by contributing to DigiPlace4all, creating content and taking part in forum discussions. They inspire people to discover a new world online and to make education and employment inclusive for people with disabilities.

Champions will also assist in managing and developing the DigiPlace4all community since they are the heart and soul of the community. They will also keep a record of their activities and share this with the DigiPlace4all community to demonstrate what can be done to help people with disabilities develop the digital skills necessary to transition from VET centre training to mainstream education and employment. An interview with one of the Digital Inclusion Champions can be seen below.

I attended the launch and I was blown away by some of the people who will be using DigiPlace4all, their disabilities have not held them back and they spoke about the different hardware and software that they used in their day to day lives. We also got to meet some of the Digital Inclusion Champions who told us how being a champion has changed their lives and what they specifically do as a champion. For more information on DigiPlace4all, including information on becoming a Digital Inclusion Champion please click here or you can email Dr. Esther Murphy

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