Your Voice Counts: Improving Digital Access

Your Voice Counts were invited to attend an event called “No one left behind – Improving digital health and care inclusion” by the Academic Science Health Network on October 20th and I’m pleased I went along.

The event was chaired by Dave Belshaw, Digital Transformation Director of the Network, and over 70 people attended the online Zoom conference. We heard from different speakers on a range of subjects regarding digital inclusion and how people can work together to find solutions to digital access barriers as well as showcasing good practice.


Michelle Thompson, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Darlington, reflected on their findings from their health access projects, particularly for older people, and Adam Parnaby, Researcher at Vonne & Open Lab, shared key findings from this interesting report about lessons learned around inclusion from the VCSE sector in the region. You can read this at https:/www.vonne.org.uk/sites/default/files/Digital-Poverty-NE.pdf if you’re interested - I’m certainly looking forward to catching up with Adam soon to discuss this further.


Richard Boggie, Development Manager from Difference North East, shared information about the Better Connected Campaign he is leading that is focused on highlighting accessibility needs across the whole population.


As for me, on behalf of Your Voice Counts (YVC) I had the privilege to showcase YVC’s fantastic work overcoming barriers to ensure people with learning disabilities were able to access digital technology during the pandemic.


The videos from our Digital Toolkit project went down an absolute storm and lots of people said it was the best thing about the event. I think this is because they really brought home the human impact of isolation and how being digitally connected during the pandemic helped improve people’s mental health. I’m so proud of the team and what we have achieved here!


The event drew to a close with a debate on future work plans and suggested activities to support digital inclusion and develop a cross sector partnership. We ended with personal pledges of action (there was lots of interesting discussion that can be found via #NoOneLeftBehindNENC on Twitter) and we ended with the promise to meet up again and broaden the reach of invitations to the next discussions to Experts by Experience and politicians who should hear about all this work and contribute.


YVC launched the videos that I shared the event as part of our Digital Toolkit campaign around inclusion. Thanks to Digital Voice who did the filming! You can see them here at https://www.yvc.org.uk/single-post/your-voice-counts-digital-toolkit-1 so please help us to raise awareness of the importance, challenges, and solutions around digital inclusion (particularly around accessibility) by checking them out and sharing the videos with your colleagues, friends and family - they really are lovely, inspirational stories. Feel free to tweet about them too or just get in touch with me at lindsay.henderson@yvc.org.uk if you’d like a chat or think we could work together.


- Lindsay Henderson, Head of Communities

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