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Disabled: Computers

Volume 472: debated on Monday 25 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much funding his Department provided for people with disabilities to assist them with learning to use computers in each year since 2001. (185040)

I have been asked to reply.

The Department has not collected separate statistics on how much funding it provides for specific groups to assist them with learning to use computers since 2001. The information requested can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

As part of the overall funding of the Government’s e-learning strategy, funding was used to create infrastructure and was aimed at sectors such as further education and institutions such as colleges. The main thrust was to put technology in place, to develop the content of e-learning materials, including adaptations to enable ease of access by disabled people, and to develop staff to use technology with different groups. This has led to projects designed to support the effective use of computers by vulnerable groups such as disabled people.

For example, between 2004 and 2006 the Learning and Skills Council and the Joint Information Systems Committee provided £250,000 supporting 27 projects in specialist colleges designed to increase confidence and motivation among disabled learners and create innovative technical solutions to meet individual needs, including learners with complex disabilities.

Until 2005 the then Department for Education and Skills partly funded two national Aids to Communication in Education centres supporting learners with learning disabilities with grants of approximately £400,000 per year. These centres still exist and are self-financing.

My Department does recognise how important it is for disabled people to use computers effectively, and a number of projects have been established to improve usage and give disabled people the confidence and skills to use all forms of information and computer technology (ICT) effectively. As part of its responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, my Department ensures that its delivery partners are working to eliminate discrimination and this includes ensuring access to technology.