VIEWdigital raised the issue of the importance of Digital Inclusion at the biggest tech event in Northern Ireland yesterday.

Digital DNA, which is taking place at St George’s Market in Belfast, brings together the leading tech talent as well as those interested in the world of technology and the impact it has on us all.

VIEW editor Brian Pelan, left, with architect Richard Dougherty; Aidan Campbell, Policy and Public Affairs officer, Rural Community Network; and Patricia Donald, head of ICT, Advice NI

VIEW editor Brian Pelan chaired a panel at the event which was titled ‘Digital Inclusion And Why It’s Important’.

Architect Richard Dougherty, who is deaf, took part, along with Aidan Campbell, Policy and Public Affairs officer with the Rural Community Network, and Patricia Donald, head of ICT at Advice NI.

Sign language interpreter Donna McGlinchey also attended the event.

Richard said: “Whilst the digital age has been a revelation for many in the disabled community, studies have shown that the people with disabilities are still less likely to use the internet or have access at home than people without. What can the digital community do to eradicate these barriers?

“There are over 350 million people worldwide who are deaf or hard of hearing and they cannot access online videos without captions. It’s puzzling why professionals content creators don’t add captions especially when you consider the potential to open up their brand to scores of potential new customers. Why is this?”

Aidan raised the issue of how digital exclusion has an ongoing impact on the lives of people in rural communities, including the older population and the unemployed.

He said the voices of those living in rural areas must not be ignored when it came to accessing digital technology, including the provision of broadband services.

Patricia Donald told how Advice NI had successfully delivered many digital inclusion projects which have helped people to develop their digital skills and access their rights and entitlements.

All three speakers told how the pandemic had severely affected the lives of the disadvantaged.

VIEWdigital intends to produce an issue of VIEW magazine which will look at the digital divide and the impact on those who can’t access or afford broadband services.

Speakers: Richard Dougherty, Aidan Campbell and Patricia Donald
Sign language interpreter Donna McGlinchey
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