IM this article to a friend!

July 10, 2003

Getting started online

From: Kablenet, UK - Jul 10, 2003

Deaf and hard of hearing people are being encouraged online as part of the UK Government's internet campaign

The UK Government is encouraging more deaf people to go online, to improve their IT skills and use e-services such as job searches, as part of its "Get Started" internet campaign.

Ivan Lewis, the minister for skills, visited the Royal National Institute for the Deaf's (RNID) London headquarters on 10 July 2003 to see the internet enabling people with hearing loss find job and career information.

With unemployment four times as high among deaf people compared to the rest of the population, there is much hope that the internet will help them get jobs and skills.

Together with the Government's UK Online "digivan", or mobile internet facility, Lewis encouraged members of the RNID's Job Club, who are deaf or hard of hearing to search online using state-of-the-art computer equipment.

The minister discussed with members how the internet was helping them with training or getting into work.

Lewis told Government Computing News that often people were unaware of the potentials of the internet in finding education and employment opportunities and that the Get Started campaign, launched in May, aimed to "get the message across to as many people as possible."

Hearing loss is no barrier to using the internet and the RNID believes it makes an excellent media to enable deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate easily and to search for education and employment opportunities.

"The internet is very important for getting deaf people into work," John Low, the RNID's chief executive, said. "For many, it can be a crucial lifeline and revolutionise their lives – for example, there is a 19% unemployment rate among deaf and hard of hearing people, compared to 5% nationally. IT skills help buck that trend," he said.

Get Started offers people who have never used the internet before the opportunity to get online free at one of 8,000 centres based in libraries, community centres, schools or other public buildings across the UK. The campaign runs until the end of July 2003.

Copyright (c) 2003 Kable Limited