The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has set up a £2.5 million fund to provide devices, data and digital support to people with learning disabilities who cannot afford to get online.
Under the new Digital Lifeline scheme it will fund 5,000 tablet computers preloaded with data and free tech support to help people deal with social isolation caused by the coronavirus.
DCMS is working with digital inclusion charities Good Things Foundation and AbilityNet on the programme.
AbilityNet will provide advice on assistive technologies and accessibility assessments for individuals with multiple and/or profound disabilities. Good Things Foundation will provide support and guidance for the local organisations to help them distribute the devices safely and securely.
Funding will also be provided for local organisations to provide support to help recipients learn how to use their device safely and confidently.
The first devices will be delivered from March and form part of a wider package of measures the government has taken to support disabled people during the pandemic. These include giving £1.2 million to seven learning disability and autism charities.
The fund is also open for applications from self-advocacy groups and other charities and providers that work closely with people with learning disabilities. They must be for people with a learning disability who are least 18, live England and cannot afford internet access or their own device.
Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage MP (pictured) said: “The pandemic has been incredibly tough for disabled people who have struggled to get online for basic things like catching up with loved ones.
“The Digital Lifeline fund will tackle this divide head on by putting thousands of devices in the hands of those who need them most, with free data and tech support on standby to help people with learning disabilities.”
Image from UK Parliament, CC BY 3.0