sue watling

I love the idea that Martha Lane Fox is advocating using digital story lines in soap operas to encourage the ‘missing 10 million’ non-engagers to get online.  What a fabulous idea!

At last we can look forward to seeing characters with physical, cognitive and sensory impairment have equal access to the Internet for their shopping and banking and all the other advantages that MLF claims they are missing out on. Soap operas will do what they do best; raise awareness of pertinent, neglected issues and increase pressure on the government to do something about them.

MLF says   It’s often the people facing the toughest times who have the most to gain from what the technology has to offer…and as the internet is rapidly becoming a tool for everyday life we should work together to makes sure everyone can benefit.” I couldn’t agree more. But I fear she is missing the point.

Can I suggest that the more the focus is on providing services online (government, health, education, employment, retail etc) and reinforcing the argument that if you are not part of this digital revolution you are losing out – then the more you are disenfranchising the one group who are already struggling with barriers to participation in most of the aspects of daily life we take for granted.

The Government have even set up a Race Online 2012  website. But lauding the technology as having the potential to help those ‘living in some of the hardest social and economic conditions’  is one thing. Reducing the prohibitive cost of anything other than eyes and mouse mainstream access and legislating effectively to ensure workable accessible digital environments is something else altogether. If the government is serious about getting everyone online for 2012 then they have some radical thinking to do.



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