Digital Inclusion: How can ELBA support community partners to become more digitally accessible?

Written by Entisam Saleh, Connect Project Coordinator

The need for organisations to be digitally accessible and inclusive has grown in significance during our year in lockdown. Even before COVID-19 hit 53% of UK employees did not have the essential digital skills required for the workplaces of today, and 22% of the UK population did not have basic online skills such as online banking, engaging in government services and job-searching (Lloyds Consumer Digital Index, 2019). But being at home for the past few months has exacerbated the gaps in access, provision and skills – leading to dangerous levels of isolation for certain vulnerable groups. ELBA has been working to provide community groups with devices and resources to those in need – but how can we address the skills and capacity gap in organisations?

We recently conducted a survey for our community partners to tell us their digital inclusion needs. With the shift to online platforms and delivery and the digital challenges occurring, it is important that we support our community partners to feel more confident with technology. Digital exclusion is the root to individuals not being able to gain access to vital services, support and connection in our current remote environment. Our aim is to ensure our partners are given the right training and tools in order for them to develop further digitally and feel more comfortable within the workplace, and by extension, ensure that the most vulnerable in society are being supported during this time. As the digital world evolves embracing new software, organisations need to follow along, which is why digital inclusion is vital. 

Some of the ideas we have within the ELBA Connect team to ensure we push for digital accessibility amongst our community partners include website & digital marketing training, ensuring organisations are able to develop their online presence using correct software to build their platforms. This was a popular survey response from our community partners as a digital training idea they would be interested in. Furthermore, Zoom and social media support would ensure organisations know the right key functions to use these apps so that they can continue to connect with their communities and service users at this time. 

In addition to this, another popular response from our community partners was website reviews. A lot of people said they would like this which is important – checking your website’s performance and analysing the strengths and weaknesses will help to make sure it is as accessible and easy-to-use as possible. This will encourage changes to be made if necessary in order to improve the online presence of the organisations. 

Our overall priority now as a team is to equip our community partners with access, motivation, skills and confidence to engage with an increasingly digital world based on their specific needs, and to enhance the skills and expertise of our corporate volunteers to do so. Can you help us to overcome digital inclusion barriers? Can you provide training or resources to address the needs outlined above? If you are a volunteer and you feel you have skills which may help our community partners, please get in touch with us  

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