Being a panel speaker at the Lambeth Council’s “Digital Access for All” was a chance to celebrate some of the hard work done by the fantastic team at ClearCommunityWeb.
The event matched council and VCS initiatives with the private sector to demonstrate and explore some of the work within the Borough over the last year.
On stage I joined representatives from Community Fibre, Homes for Lambeth, Millennium Community Solutions, HubBub and O2 to explain why digital inclusion is important and the role we all play to provide support to community or enable those closer to the issue do their work.
The subject of accessibility quickly came to the forefront and that technology cannot be a panacea for deeper rooted challenges, of which there are many.
Equal access to information, services and engagement certainly cannot be solved with ‘digital’ alone as being a digital first society relies on accessible information which clear, coherent, accurate and complete.
‘Digital’ being employed to ‘fix’ this is likely to fail or may even make the problem worse, and then be blamed. (Remember Test and Trace anyone?)
Technology can and should improve access to these things, our vehicle or conduit, but cant make bad good.
Assistive Technology (AT) is a perfect if example of this; enabling people living with disability or impairments to use the internet, devices and to interact in ways other people take for granted. A point that Rev Gail Thompson (Millennium Community Solutions) made very clearly and is a champion in this area. Inspirationally, she also completed a masters degree solely using speech recognition software.
Technology should facilitate choice, not restrict it, and we should be able to employ the appropriate tools or channels for what we need to do, whether it is ‘digital’ or not.
It was great catching up with the people in the room, in particular, with our friends at Millennium Community Solutions, Community Tech Aid, Homes for Lambeth, Carers Hub, High Trees, WLM & Watmos.