My Digital Life

As part of our SprungDigi pilot we ran a series of engagement workshops from April 2014 to December 2014 we called my MY DIGITAL LIFE reaching 80 local learning disabled people of all ages establishing the needs of the project for individuals and groups.

The aim of these workshops was to generate data for a baseline assessment of current digital connectivity and state of play for our learning disabled stakeholder artists, participants and audiences and their individual digital connection, desire and ambition to use social media and digital creativity and if not connected to understand why.

My Digital Life asked specific questions relating to lifestyle, wellbeing and connection (to people and online) by asking:-.

  • Technology they had access to/use of on a regular basis These answers reflected the lifestyles of our participants whether they lived independently with carers/parents or in supported living situs? Also affordability: What they could afford to buy themselves or what they were able to access in their lives through day centres, other providers and or friends/family.
  • Awareness of consoles, apps websites We wanted to know if our participants were internet users. With smart phone use on the increase and apps a part of everyday life, we were interested in how much access people had to these things and if they did access them if it ‘added value’ to their lives.
  • Safety and connecting to the internet There is a current spotlight on the need for certain communities including vulnerable adults and an older demographic – silver surfers – or those without connectivity in rural villages. We wanted to see if our participants felt that they could safely use the internet or if they had the confidence to be a regular, independent internet user.
  • Communicating We wanted to find out how people were engaging with each other, other than face to face at day centres/ schools etc. Looking at the idea of isolation and how technology can bring people together.
  • Understanding of Digital Art/Tech and access to it. We wanted to know if our beneficiaries knew about digital art, experiencing it is a part of their everyday lives. Were they supported to engage with creative projects that might embrace digital either supported or independently.
  • Using internet and tech Were our beneficiaries able re mobility, dexterity and cognition able to use digital on their own or or do they need help from support workers or family members? We were trying to explore the idea of ‘gatekeepers’ to the use of new technologies. This information eventually shaped our ‘DigiBuddies’ programme.

 

The results:-

About a quarter of each group of people asked could not contribute to the questionnaire fully as they did not use any technology at all (not including common forms such as televisions and radios) and did not even own/use a mobile phone. Those who did answer fully and had some form of digital involvement, we learnt:-

  • Aside from television (which was regularly used by over 70% of the people asked) and music players (over 50%), laptops were the most used tech, although less than half the people asked had access to them. Mobile phones were similarly used but very few were smart phones. We found that new technologies are not regularly used, especially by post 20 year old participants. And if it is, it is often outdated.
  • Half of the people asked used YouTube regularly. This was key information. As passive users of You Tube, our people never used it to post videos themselves, just watching videos of the things that interest them. Some used Facebook but most people asked did not have an account some of these not knowing how to set one up, not being allowed, or just being able to view public pages.
  • Most of the people who had access to the internet were not scared of it and wanted to use it in their everyday lives. The reason why they are not using it regularly seemed to be access issues; denied use by parents/ support workers and being told ‘it’s not for you’.
  • Over half of the people asked used emails, phone calls and text messages to communicate with people. Some people didn’t know what Social Media was.
  • Most people did not know what Digital Art was. Aside from using cameras to take pictures during supported sessions, making art independently was not common place.
  • Those who have access to tech, 50% were using it unsupported, where as the majority of people needed support from support workers and family members. This highlighted more need for the DigiBuddies programme to be developed.

 

 

The SprungDigi project has developed four main areas during the past year where our DigiCrew can come and learn new skills and have access to new technologies:-

  • Masterclasses (digital skills, taster sessions, digital play)
  • Community Outreach Workshops with schools, groups and day centres (Project work, getting out into the community, being seen/heard, using tech, getting creative, not being passive, thinking, engaging)
  • Community Meetings (voicing opinions, chairing, sharing news, meeting new people, communicating ideas)
  • Skills Training Sessions (Plugged Into which will develop into DigiBuddies in 2016)

 

 

We have found that this has had a profound effect on the learning disabled communities that we have engaged with. In an attempt to ‘shake up’ the passive nature in which some participants are involved in their day to day routines of attending day centre groups etc, we have encouraged active participation during our sessions. Not only introducing participants to new technologies for creative projects, but allowing them to use them to create what they want and not be led or ‘spoon fed’. Through this way of working, participants have been out in their communities, engaging with local businesses and people, getting an opportunity to voice their own opinions and having a say in how they want to work. Knowing the issues of isolation that a lot of our participants face, we value the importance of digital connectivity and meeting new people outside their daily routines. SprungDigi Masterclasses have offered the chance to bring different people together from across the county and maintain those valuable new relationships online too.

 

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My Digital Life Results

This is what we learnt about doing the My Digital Life questionnaires with community groups.