Have you ever had to send an email with a broken hand or arm? What is normally a rapid and frequent activity for most of us suddenly becomes fraught with difficulty and frustration. Technology is ubiquitous and yet people with limited hand or arm dexterity are left behind because accessibility has not kept pace with digital advancements. An inconvenience becomes a tragedy when it is young people who are denied access to the digital world simply due to their physical disabilities.
Solutions for a range of challenges are emerging, but they cost money. For example, eye-gaze technology allows someone to control a computer screen by using their eyes as the mouse, but such special computer units cost thousands of pounds and are often only supplied by projects that rely on charitable donations to survive.
It is tech for good projects similar to this that Nominet is championing through an exciting new collaboration with a well-known charity that we associate with an iconic yellow bear. BBC Children in Need has raised over £950m for UK causes since inception and attracts incredible support from people up and down the country who have grown up looking forward to taking part in the appeal night each November on our TV screens.
It’s easy to fail to see beyond the famous yellow bear and the annual celebration, but Children in Need is also a trailblazer in its commitment to supporting grassroots projects and community organisations that face incredible challenges securing funding and delivering support to some of the UK’s most vulnerable young people. It supports all manner of small charities helping young people in different areas and ways, and this offers Nominet another means of fulfilling our own commitment to ensuring young people aren’t left behind in the march towards a digital future.
At Nominet we already provide support to young people through a range of initiatives including our Nominet Digital Neighbourhood project, which offers digital skills training and paid work experience with local SMEs. We are also involved with the Prince’s Trust and the Micro:bit Educational Foundation. Working with Children in Need extends our reach yet further, changing even more lives with the proceeds derived from the commercial success our registry business.
Until November 19th 2018, in collaboration with our registrars, we will be donating £1 from every new, paid for .UK domain name registration, with a minimum commitment of £200,000. This money will be used by Children in Need to offer grants and funding to charities and projects that are using technology to help young people, of which there are still too few considering the ubiquity of digital devices.
Examples of projects that this support will help include clubs that provide technology sessions for those affected by poverty and social exclusion to help them develop and gain new digital skills and a sense of belonging. Learning about new software technology, coding, robotics and digital arts can provide a sense of purpose, equip those taking part with skills and could even identify potential career paths for their futures.
By supporting projects like this – and sharing some of their stories in the coming year – our hope is that it might encourage other small charities and community groups to overcome the barriers that could stand in the way of using and applying digital technologies in their work. The integration of digital in the third sector is becoming ever more important. Our world is undergoing far-reaching digital transformation and the ensuing divide between those with access and those without is growing, with alarming consequences.
Technology has great potential as a force for good, but it needs to be directed and applied appropriately for success. We mustn’t forget what many of us take for granted when it comes to engaging with and accessing technology. Disabilities and disadvantage can stand in the way of a young person’s progression in a digital world if we don’t consciously support projects that will help them succeed. We are confident that this new partnership will allow us to play our part, moving the dial on this crucial issue and, in doing so, creating a digital future in which no one is left behind, not least the future generation.
Find out more about Nominet’s involvement with Children in Need here.