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Effective initiatives: UK

These twelve initiatives-- six for the U.S. and six for the UK-- have been particularly effective in encouraging internet/e-government use by people who had not previously accessed them. Each promoted e-government or had distinctive features. See the project reports below for more details.

CareOnLine--Leicestershire

Download the CareOnLine PDF

The primary purpose of this project, led by Leicestershire County Council, is to reduce the social exclusion and isolation of people with disabilities, older people, and caregivers by equipping them with computer and internet skills. The project offers advice about equipment, individualized training from a qualified IT tutor in people's own homes, and ongoing technical support. If the participant cannot afford a computer and necessary assistive technology, the project provides it as the budget allows. CareOnLine has 400 registered users and has given out 150 computers (including 25 touch screens) and a host of accessibility hardware, including donations to group homes and other organizations.

As part of its activities, the project developed a website that covers a wide range of lifestyle information for the target population. It includes links to 50 major disability organizations, local support and leisure groups, holidays and travel insurance, radio and TV, and online shopping. It also has links to local council websites with brief descriptions of the information and services that are likely to be relevant to the user group. All information is designed to be used both with a touch screen and without keyboard skills. In 2005 CareOnLine was the UK national e-government winner (team category), and it has been a finalist or short-listed for several other UK/European awards.

Carpenters Connect RegenTV--Newham, London

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This project delivers digital TV channels, local community videos, the internet, email, an estate intranet, multiplayer video games, and a fully functioning set of PC applications to the TV sets of residents of a disadvantaged council estate over a broadband internet set-top box. The project has given residents the opportunity to make videos about local issues, consult more effectively with the council about the tower blocks' condition, and get to know other residents better. It has also encouraged the use of interactive TV, the internet, and email by giving residents access to online information, services, and communication through familiar equipment that is an accepted part of almost all homes. Short videos were made to explain the different parts of the system. These could be accessed via the Electronic Programme Guide. The program developers see great potential in delivering e-government services through multimedia tools such as video clips showing people how to fill in online forms. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's e-innovations program funded the project initially, and it is a partnership led by the London Borough of Newham. The hardware, software, and community development know-how have been put together into an easily deployable and fully scalable product.

Cascade--Nottingham

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Three voluntary organizations--Nottingham Council for Voluntary Service, Nottinghamshire Deaf Society, and Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind--set up this project to overcome the barriers to ICT training for people with disabilities, particularly those living in deprived areas. Cascade offered informal and accredited training by qualified tutors, with assistive devices as appropriate to people with a wide range of disabilities. Volunteers were trained to assist alongside the paid tutors at the three main centers. The project also provided a computer and training for a tutor at other organizations catering for people with disabilities in the area. Eighteen Cascade Learning sites in and around Nottingham were set up; some addressed particular communication and learning needs while others focused on alternatives to conventional equipment, keyboards, and mice. At Nottinghamshire Deaf Society, the tutor developed special resources and taught in British Sign Language.

Community Heritage Store--West Norfolk

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This project aims to "bridge the digital divide" and is targeted at older people (age 55+) in rural communities in Norfolk. It uses older people's concern to preserve local heritage as a means of sparking their interest in the internet. Through this, the project can preserve stories, photos, letters and other memorabilia that would probably otherwise be lost. The project started with very targeted local publicity to attract people to the initial launch and five local workshops. From there, five community groups have been established with a remit to encourage the use of the internet and the localCHS.co.uk website. Participants receive informal training from peers. Everyone who participates has access to their own Community Heritage Store website, which acts as a personal store. With users' permission this contributes to the local community CHS, which again is shared with neighboring communities. Supporting these groups is now part of the job description of Borough Council development officers. A train-the-trainer course is being started to spread the project throughout Norfolk. Everyone in Norfolk can contribute to the localCHS.co.uk website. The project is a public/private partnership between UKVillages.co.uk and the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk. Its product is now available for national rollout and has won major UK and European awards.

Leeds Libraries IT Learning--Leeds

Download the Leeds Libraries IT Learning PDF

Leeds Libraries IT learning aims to improve the IT skills of the community, particularly those of people who are not confident enough to take a college course. The library provides the first steps in IT and also supports people taking more formal courses. Leeds libraries are part of the People's Network, a UK government-led initiative to bring computers and internet access near everyone who wants it. The 54 libraries deliver both small group and 1:1 sessions that provide informal learning. During the academic year 2004-5, 3291 participants completed evaluation forms. Of these, 29.5 percent said that they had some form of disability, 7.5 percent were unemployed, 52 percent were retired, and 40 percent lived in wards designated deprived by the Adult Community Learning Services.

The libraries provide free use of computers and the internet for up to two hours a day, or more if they are not in use. All the libraries have a range of assistive technology, including Supernova (magnification and a screen reader) for people with visual impairments and staff who know how to use this. They also have software that enables people to type in many different languages. Part of the time in the basic internet sessions is used to show people the council website and Directgov--the UK government portal to public information services, with news and information for specific groups such as disabled people. The libraries have taken part in several government pilot programs to encourage use of the internet and e-government services, including piloting Directgov.

Leicester Disability Information Network--Leicester

Download the Leicester Disability Information Network PDF

A project led by Leicester City Council to establish an innovative information and consultation network for people with learning disabilities or physical and sensory impairments. The project provides internet access and computer suites with all necessary assistive devices for people with disabilities attending day centers in Leicester. It provided initial training to make day center staff comfortable with the technology. It then trained service users individually according to their needs, first on basics and then on applications and the internet. Now that staff members are more confident, they run sessions for center users and can give help on an individual basis. The project also provides touch screen kiosks with email and internet access in locations convenient for disabled people. It maintains a website that aims to be as informative and user-friendly as possible, and to encourage feedback and communication. The website focuses on topics of concern to people with disabilities and uses easy language, pictures, graphics, and some audio output. (The website uses the "Browse Aloud" downloadable software and also has audio output on some information CDs.) It links to the council, government, and other websites. The project website also provides useful information for caregivers and professionals. The project has been highly commended by a number of ICT-related UK award schemes.

ICI: promoting inclusion for people with disabilities