Two leading Paralympians – Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Karen Darke – are among campaigners urging local authorities and others to harness the wave of awareness of disability issues generated by the home games to push for more inclusive websites, apps and digital services.
Karen Darke, a medal prospect for GB in this Friday’s women’s handcycling road race at Brands Hatch, is among high profile campaigners who have recorded a series of video messages highlighting the new frontier for disability rights in the modern age: the digital frontier.
“Everywhere I go I have my laptop and my iPhone with me, and I spend a lot of my time on them,” says Darke in her message. “Technology can offer so much, an ability to stay in touch with people, to know what’s going on, to find out information at the press of a button… I can’t imagine not using technology, and all the ways of communicating with people – but actually there are a lot of people out there who don’t use it, and it’s not part of their everyday life.”
The campaign, ‘Go ON Gold’, aims to highlight the fact that some four million persons with disabilities in the UK have never used the internet, either because of design barriers or because they may be unaware of advances in technology that can make access easier.
The Go ON Gold website will act as a central focus for links to key resources and expertise, ranging from charities providing free or subsidised equipment, to centres offering one-to-one advice, and guidance for website developers to ensure the accessibility of the digital content they produce.
The project is aiming to sign up 1,000 new ‘digital champions’ over the next 12 months who will help persons with disabilities use accessible technology. It is also inviting organisations of all kinds – including local authorities – to become partners and help spread the word among their own staff and service users.
Other high profile campaigners who have recorded videos for Go ON Gold include sixteen-times Paralympic medal-winner, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.
“For people whose mobility is compromised or who lack the resources to be able to get out and about as much as they would like, full internet access can be hugely liberating,” Baroness Grey-Thompson said this week. “In front of the screen, we can all be equal and Go ON Gold is set to make this a reality.”
Go ON Gold is a partner campaign of Go ON UK, a new national charity chaired by UK digital champion Martha Lane Fox and backed by the BBC, Age UK, the Post Office, TalkTalk, Lloyds, the Big Lottery Fund and Eon. It is supported by social investor Nominet Trust.