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Thousands of smart devices to be delivered to “digitally excluded” people with learning disabilities

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More than 5,000 smart devices will be delivered to people with learning difficulties on low incomes, it has been announced.

Known as the Digital Lifeline fund, the £2.5 million scheme aims to improve the lives of thousands of “digitally excluded” people who have spent the coronavirus pandemic disconnected from family and friends.

According to the Government, thousands of internet tablets – preloaded with data and free tech support – will be delivered to people with learning difficulties who “can’t afford to get online”.

The scheme comes after a recent survey revealed that three in four (75 per cent) people with a learning disability say that their wellbeing has been impacted by the coronavirus, compared to just over a third (37 per cent) of the general population.

Commenting on the announcement, Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage said connecting people to their family and friends will help reduce feelings of loneliness and support their mental health and wellbeing.

“The pandemic has been incredibly tough for disabled people who have struggled to get online for basic things like catching up with loved ones,” she said.

“The Digital Lifeline fund will tackle this divide head on by putting thousands of devices in the hands of those who need them most, with free data and tech support on standby to help people with learning disabilities.”

According to the scheme details, the Digital Lifeline fund will be delivered through “participating organisations”, such as self-advocacy groups, online centres, or support providers.

To be eligible for a device, you must be over the age of 18, have a learning disability, and cannot afford to purchase internet access and a smart device of your own.