RNIB is working with partners, including the Campaign to End Loneliness, to break down the barriers to digital inclusion for people with sensory loss. We are keen to hear from organisations in each UK country who are interested in helping people with sight or hearing loss as possible get – and stay – online.

Research has shown that the internet can be effective in helping people stay connected with friends and family, and help some people reduce loneliness. Older people with hearing or sight loss are a group at great risk of loneliness and there is much more that can be done to find ways to support them to get online and stay connected.

The RNIB would like to launch new project called Online Today – which will reach out to people with sensory loss across the UK, supporting those who are digitally excluded to develop the online skills and confidence to use computers and the internet through events, free training, volunteers, telephone advice, plus extra face-to-face support.

Online Today is through to Stage 2 of a UK-wide Big Lottery Application and (if successful!) will launch in September 2014 and run for 3 years. There will be four main stages to help people with sensory loss get online:

  • Get people interested – reach people who think sensory loss is a barrier to getting online and show them this is not the case
  • Ask: what would you like? For those needing a confidence boost or convincing of benefits, there will be hands-on demonstrations, presentations, ‘Switch On’ events, and troubleshooting surgeries.
  • Make it work – with four stages of free training (from Tasters Sessions to Masterclasses) and a network of supporters to act as champions, people will be supported to improve confidence and skills
  • Spread the benefits – anyone who has received training will be encouraged to share skills with others, and train other volunteers to do more for people with sensory loss who want to get and stay online

How can you get involved?

The Online Today project could help you to support anyone with sight or hearing loss to avoid digital exclusion and social isolation. In order to reach as many people as possible over the UK, RNIB would like to hear from any organisation that would like to do more to help older people gain access to and use the internet more.

For example if you have a venue that could be used for training sessions, Online Today can arrange free digital training for anyone that you work with that suffers from sight or hearing loss.

If you already run training or support people to get online, and would like to do more for people with sight or hearing loss, Online Today could provide training for your staff and volunteers.

Or if you’d just like to share your experience or take part in events around digital inclusion and sensory loss, Online Today can invite you to future events across three years. There is also a small amount of funding that can be divided between partners and free training for any beneficiaries and volunteers.

If you are interested in this project or would like to learn more, simply complete a short ‘New Partner Application Form’ on the RNIB website here: http://www.rnib.org.uk/onlinetoday

Please make sure that your application is in by the 30th April. For enquiries or if you need the form in an alternative format, please email: onlinetoday@rnib.org.uk or call 0121 665 4214.