Switch off so others can switch on

Technology can help disabled people control their lives.

We’ve blogged about how assistive technology in our Beaumont college and in services like Drummonds can help people browse the web, listen to music, use social networks and control their environments.

So why would we ask people to give up technology?

Digital Detox is this weekend. It’s a sponsored event which will see self-confessed social media addicts pledging to go without technology for 48 hours. Just like most fundraising events – it’s a challenge, and we ask people to raise money doing it. We’ve seen from our past participants just how challenging the weekend can be.

It’s also a chance for us to talk to a new audience. Many fundraising events involve running, cycling and swimming long distances – which aren’t challenges that everyone wants to take on!

There’s a more serious side to it too.  We polled 1,500 social media users and found that although people are most likely to feel amused (84%) or better connected to other people (69%) when they use social media, nearly a third (30%) admit that they actually feel lonely when they look at their social media feed.  Shockingly, half of 18 – 34 year olds even admit that their social media feed makes them feel ugly or unattractive.

It’s ironic, but by giving up their online presence for the weekend, participants are helping support our work, giving people like Jamie their own voice:

Would you like to join others fundraising for Scope by reconnecting with the analogue world? Sign up for Digital Detox.

 

Independent Extra Costs Commission launched today

Update: Submissions of evidence and stories to the commission are now closed. Thank you to everyone who took the time to take part.

Today marks the launch of a year-long independent inquiry. It will explore the extra costs that disabled people and families with disabled children face in England and Wales.

Disabled people and their families should be able to learn, work and get involved in the community without extra costs. But instead they must spend £550 a month on average on disability-related costs. From paying more for transport to work to the cost of an electric wheelchair, from higher energy costs to more expensive insurance, disabled people and families with disabled children pay more just to live independent lives.

Robin Hindle Fisher chairs the Extra Costs Commission. He has brought together high-profile, expert Commissioners including independent consumer advocate and Vice Chair of the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group Teresa Perchard and TV presenter and disability campaigner Sophie Morgan. They will consider evidence and steer concrete solutions to drive down extra costs.

Share your experiences of extra costs

The Commission is seeking evidence from disabled people and parents of disabled children. They want to hear:

  • your experiences of extra costs
  • how extra costs affect your life and financial situation.

Submit formal evidence to the Commission

The Commission is also seeking formal evidence from researchers, policy makers, local authorities, businesses, consumer rights experts, Disabled People’s Organisations and advice agencies, and more. They welcome evidence in response to two main questions.

1.  Rebalancing markets

Disabled people rely on private sector companies for many products and services. We’ve made huge progress in opening up opportunities for disabled people over recent years. Advances in technology have brought big improvements in independence and participation. But all too often, these come at a high – sometimes prohibitively high – cost.

Political parties and the commercial sector are starting to recognise disabled people’s spending power, but businesses, investors and governments have taken few steps to harness the so-called ‘Purple Pound’.

The Commission:

  • wants to know how the market is working for disabled people
  • wants to know about the quality, choice, price and availability of products and services
  • welcomes suggestions for how markets could better drive down extra costs.

2.  Changing infrastructure

Inaccessible housing, town-planning, transport, energy and services can make life cost more. For example there is a strong correlation between suitability of housing and disability-related spending.

The Commission:

  • wants to know how this affects disabled people.
  • welcomes suggestions on changing infrastructure to improve access, meet needs and drive down extra costs.

The Extra Costs Commission means a real opportunity to drive down the extra costs disabled people and their families face. But they need your evidence and experiences to make a difference. Please get involved.