Lead Scotland’s CEO to talk at International UNESCO Conference in Paris

Our CEO, Emma Whitelock will be involved in a presentation and panel session, “Does e-learning address challenges of education systems worldwide?” at the international UNESCO conference “The challenge of the digital revolution for Non Government Organisations” being held on the 12th to 14th December in Paris.

Every day more new e-learning opportunities become available across the world but many disabled people in Scotland are not online and lack the basic digital skills they need to be able to participate.   

The barriers present for the one in five people in Scotland who still lack basic digital skills are well documented and include low income and lack of appropriate support. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation annual monitoring poverty and social exclusion report 2016 found that “half of people living in poverty are either themselves disabled or are living with a disabled person in their household”.

The potential benefits from e-learning are not being fully realised by many disabled people who could benefit from flexible, low cost learning opportunities which transcend geographical barriers.

The Scottish Government recently launched “A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People” the Delivery Plan to 2021 for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  This plan firmly advocates that the only way to achieve inclusion is by involving disabled people in the design of services.  E-learning providers could adopt the same approach in the design of education services to encourage participation.

Douglas White, head of Advocacy at Carnegie Trust, author of Carnegie Report, Digital Participation and Social Justice was recently highlighted in third force news, “Digital technology – the great enabling force of the 21st century – is actually exacerbating rather than bridging long-standing inequalities in our society”.  The report concludes, “Digital participation is now an issue of social justice. Tackling the digital divide is critical to the future of a fairer Scotland.”

Emma will be talking about the ways in which Lead works with disabled people to deliver relevant learning opportunities, on a one to one and small group basis with volunteer support and the loan of a device, building confidence as well as practical skills and knowledge. Last year Lead supported 199 learners to learn to use enabling technology with impacts such as increased independence, connection with family, and as a springboard to further learning, volunteering and work.

“Skype helps me keep in touch with my daughter who lives abroad”  Perth learner

 “That I could use technology at all. Before I found it baffling and frightening.” Fife learner

“I feel my independence coming back and that makes such a difference to me and my family”. Dundee learner.

 “It’s scary at first but give it a chance, it will make your world bigger” North Lanarkshire learner.

Inclusive e-learning opportunities have the potential to address some of the challenges of education systems around the world because they can be flexible, low cost and can transcend geographical boundaries, inspiring new ideas and connections.  Only if we don’t leave anyone behind.

We are very grateful indeed to Soroptimist International who are supporting Lead to be involved in the conference.

Click here to view the full UNESCO conference programme