Podcast Episode: Go4IT digital inclusion service
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
MD - Michelle Drumm
DW - Diane Webb
RM - Ross McNicol
DP - Dee Piggott
PH - Pamela Hewison
MD Iriss.fm visited the Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living which hosts ‘Go4IT’, a digital inclusion service for adults with disabilities who are supported by Quarriers. We spoke to Diane Webb, Digital Inclusion Lead at Quarriers about how the Go4IT programme began and the type of courses it provides. Diane received a TalkTalk Digital Hero Award in 2014 for her work with Go4IT.
DW I really started with Quarriers as an IT trainer - so I was training the staff, and the opportunity came up to try and start up a class for people with disabilities, so we ran a pilot, a 10 week class, and it was so successful we had a waiting list of another 10 people wanting to join within one week. And from that I had went back to the Quarriers Executive and asked could we run the class long-term and turn it into a club and also could we run two clubs to try and meet the needs of the people that were on the waiting list, so that’s where it all began, just as a pilot.
MD And did you have a personal interest in web technologies before you started with Quarriers?
DW Yes, I have got a background in Arts and also I have studied software development, so I had experience in working with people with disabilities, but also in technology. I also worked as a PA for year supporting a girl with cerebral palsy, and just experiencing what it was like day in, day out for her, and the barriers that she would face inspired me really to try and do more to support people with disabilities to access the same opportunities that we all get on a day to day basis. So Go4IT is a digital inclusion service - the vision that we have is to provide access to technology for children and adults with disabilities. We provide the clubs that are long term, short term training courses - we do that with staff and people with disabilities. One to one assessments and support and we loan equipment out so people can try before they buy, we refurbish laptops and loan them out and we provide one to one tutoring.
MD And how do people actually get involved?
DW In Quarriers the service is free, so people can just be referred … they can refer themselves or staff can get in touch with us. Other organisations have got in touch with us and we charge a small fee maybe to support someone out-with Quarriers. One of the courses we run just now is called ‘Did You Know’, and the benefits are that people get the chance to get one to one support really in a class situation, looking at the basics of technology. Before we run a class we do a meet and greet session where we get to know each person, find out what their needs are, and we try and deliver the course based on their needs. So each course is different, because the course is open to a physical and/or learning disability. So in order to be able to meet those needs we have volunteers and we have quite a high level of staffing in the class, so people are getting that right level of support.
MD And you, yourself, are in receipt of an award this year - do you want to tell us a bit more about that?
DW Yes, I am really happy to have won the award - it was the TalkTalk Digital Hero’s, ‘Training an Army’ award. It was fantastic - the best thing about it, apart from getting the award and being embarrassed about it, but the best thing was getting the £5,000 that we won, and we are going to use that money to deliver ‘Did You Know’ courses for people with disabilities alongside their staff throughout the whole of 2015 in Quarriers.
MD Ross McNicol, Digital Inclusion Facilitator with ‘Go4IT’ told us about the one to one and class activities.
RM My name is Ross McNicol and I work as a Digital Inclusion Facilitator for the ‘Go4IT’ project in Quarriers.
MD So how did you get involved then in this work?
RM It was a gentleman that I was supporting as a support worker at the Quarriers Village Club on a Friday - he had a real interest in learning more about computers. And that was the first time I had seen the club and everyone getting together, how diverse it was as well with the interests that people had, learning about computers - so I suppose it really spiked my interest and realising that there was a need for people to learn more skills, particularly certain age groups, I guess, that haven’t really grown up around computers as well. They can tend to sort of fall by the wayside in society. So I suppose it opened my eyes to trying to help more. The course we are running just now is Basic Skills in Computing - so we are really just trying to teach people the breadth of the sort of core skills you would need to get online, stay safe and do the sort of things that could be useful for you. So staying in touch with family or shopping online, you know, filling out forms, all the sort of councils and government’s seem to be sort of going in that direction now to try and cut down on paper. And basically just trying to give people the skills they would need to do that without having somebody hang over their shoulder to do that for them - which is what we really try and avoid - we would rather people learned their own skills and not need a kind of prop stick in a sense to try and help. Other sort of courses we have ran in the past though have been more sort of tasters of the sort of technology people can use as well, so instead of teaching core skills we have been doing a more kind of focus on ‘here’s what you could do if you were interested in learning this, and then maybe you could take that further’ - things like maybe Skype or things like Google Earth as well. These things can be quite complex, so the sort of classes we were running were showing people the kind of introduction to where you could look up on these things, or Skype, how to get connected and talk to people and things. And in some cases, particularly with Skype, you could learn that in one class. Something like Google Earth you could probably learn over a few weeks more. We basically just want to expose people to these kind of things so they will know what they are interested in - because one of the main problems we have got is people will turn up to a class and they will say “I don’t really know what I want to learn on the computer - I just now I am here because there are certain skills I need, and I am not really sure what ones I do need”. And as we are learning through these things, you tend to find there is a lot of shared skills, like browsing on the computer - for every class that is going to be something that will constantly get revisited, you know, having to find where you have saved files, why things are popping up on the screen. I don’t think there is a particular class anywhere that describes why things pop up on the screen, because every computer is slightly different like that, aren’t they? So we definitely encourage things, in that sense, to go … it’s good in some ways if it goes haywire, because we are there and we can tell people why that is happening and how to deal with it. The last thing I would want to do is run a class that runs spotlessly from start to finish and is absolutely nothing like real life.
MD What are the challenges of working with a class?
RM The biggest challenge we have found so far is what kind of device people want to learn on the now, because in the past it was always easy to say people want to learn on Windows or learning more sort of typing skills or something like that. But with the rise of tablets and mobile phone and a couple of other kind of operating systems with tablets as well - for instance Apple are making their IOS software and Google have developed android - they all do the same sort of things, but in completely different ways. So to try and run a class where you are teaching one person one thing and another person another can get quite confusing. And in the past we … even currently we do run courses where all 3 devices are being used in the same class. And the pace can still be quite fast on these depending on who is in the class I guess, what sort of skill level they are at and how much kind of learning they have had previously. Probably the second biggest barrier is another important one as well, would be literacy actually and education, because a lot of online activities … although it has changed a lot recently - but it was usually centred on a lot of text - heavy text websites. And more recently you could argue maybe they have dumbed down websites in the sense that there are a lot of pictures and less writing now - but I would completely disagree with that - I think it makes it more accessible for people - people can see what is on a web page and they know where they want to click now, rather than having to read through lots of text and find a link maybe in there that they could then click on. So I think that’s definitely a good change with what would they call it … Web 2.0 Changeover.
MD Dee Piggott, Digital Inclusion Facilitator, tells us how she got involved in Go4IT and the sort of activity she supports.
DP I am Dee Piggott and I am a Digital Inclusion Facilitator working with Go4IT within Quarriers. I saw an advert for volunteer work for 2 hours a week, helping in a class down in Saltcoats - a computer club - a weekly computer club, helping out. And within 6 weeks a job came up, I went for the job and I was offered 10 hours, and it increase from there to 17, to 24 and now it’s 31. I think for myself, when I first started volunteering, I really wasn’t aware of the real benefits that people would get from the computer club until I started - and after one week I was hooked on it - I was just amazed at the different things that people were doing. It was all very mixed up - some people were quite happy to play games, others were making their life stories on Powerpoint to leave to their nieces to see in years to come. And I was pretty blown away with it to be honest. And the fact that the club ran very smoothly, considering everyone was doing very different things - no 2 people were doing the same thing really.
MD So what are the kind of things you would be doing with people then?
DP We have, like I said there, Richard who is down in my Saltcoats club, he is doing his own life story in a Powerpoint presentation, and he is hoping to leave that to his nieces and nephews in years to come so they can see … it goes right back to when he was born and where he stayed and how his illnesses moved on and what he does now on a day to day basis. So that is really interesting, it’s great. We have got other people who are … they love to do jigsaws online, that’s their big thing, using touch screens, which is fantastic, we have also got people learning email and like to just keep in touch with family and friends abroad. We have got a couple of people who love radio - one in particular, radio stations, and he likes to look them up, send them emails, ask for pictures, and he visits them as well. Very diverse - every week, seeing everyone moving on, I mean none of them seem to be stuck in the same thing every week. We always try to push them a little bit - I mean the club is all designed for them to do what they want when they come, but we like to have a wee goal there for them to kind of try and move on every week. And that could be something as simple as somebody going from a jigsaw at 50 pieces to 60 pieces, but the achievement for them is amazing and I get a lot from that as well.
MD We also spoke to Pamela Hewison, a participant in Go4IT training.
PH I got involved with this because I have a laptop at home which I brought here today and I sort of try and learn again about computers. Before, my concentration wasn’t very good, the first thing - coming here I find it a lot easier, a very small class, you get one to one help which is very important, as my concentration is not so good. But I have really learned a lot. Just basically how to start the computer, I have learned about emails, which I’m glad, how to use the security to check on if you don’t want to look things on the list - what to look up and what not to look up.
MD So a bit of internet safety stuff.
MD Why do you think the internet safety is important?
PH Because I have seen on television what can happen - you get false people use the public and bad things can happen, lose money, etc, or getting goods which are not safe. You know, and you have got to be careful about that. I am very careful about the internet - after seeing what I have seen on television.
MD Has it been empowering for you though?
PH Oh it has.
MD How does the internet help you in your life?
PH Well I like to learn about other places you can’t go and people - this is me personally. I have got such a wide variety of interests, yes, and the internet does help me in this respect. Find people and information, especially with films and TV - because I love my films you know, and about the stars of course.
MD Of course, the popular media.
PH Exactly, there’s one I can give you an example. I was told by someone that the actress that was in Law & Order Special Victim Unit - and I wanted to find out more about Jane Mansfield … sorry, I am getting mixed up with my stars. I just wanted to check it out myself, because I remember when she was killed, and you don’t hear anything about the family. I just want to find this information.
MD How has it been, being part of a class?
MD What are the nice things about it?
PH Well everyone helps you and support you, and if you make a mistake, well … which I did today. I got 9 out of 10 - and it was simple thing - it was my ideas. But you have got to really pause to think the answer to the questions, again this is where you get the help. I find it a lot easier than being in a class, you know. It’s much easier to learn.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License