Paralympic hopeful Karen Darke backs online drive
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Karen, paralysed in a rock climbing accident at 21, competes in the handcycling time trial and road race events on September 5 and 7. She says the campaign, Go ON Gold, provides a vital service to people who would otherwise not know where to turn for help in getting online.
A partner project of Go ON UK, the new national charity to get everyone online supported by the BBC, Age UK and the Post Office, Go ON Gold has also been backed by 16 times medal winner Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.
More than half of the eight million UK citizens who have never used the internet are disabled, with the reasons behind their inability to get on line often caused by design barriers or ignorance of advances in technology which can make access easier.
Karen, whose adventures include handcycling over the Himalayas and across Japan, sit skiing 600km across Greenland, sea kayaking around Corsica, a clutch of world cup and world championship handcycling medals and a PhD in geology, says the internet is a powerful tool – all the more so for those with disabilities.
“Everywhere I go I have my laptop and my phone with me,” Karen told Go ON Gold.
“Technology can offer so much, an ability to stay in touch with people, to know what’s going on, to find out information at the press of a button. I can’t imagine not using technology – but actually there are a lot of people out there who don’t use it, and it’s not part of their everyday life.
“It’s a great thing to help someone access all that information and technology.”
A core element of the Go ON Gold campaign is a growing library of video interviews, including those with Karen, Dame Tanni and other supporters, explaining how they have overcome difficulties to access the net and describing tools which have made their lives easier. These can be downloaded and embedded on any website, creating a viral campaign to spread the word.
Go ON Gold aims to sign up 1,000 new digital champions in the use of accessible technology. It will also encourage businesses, organisations and policy makers to become more aware of the needs of disabled people, including their own staff and customers – and of the benefits to the economy of enabling everyone to be on line.
The Go ON Gold website will act as a central focus for links to key resources and expertise, ranging from charities providing free or subsidised equipment, to centres offering one-to-one advice, and guidance for developers building websites or apps for all kinds of organisations, from the smallest one-person business to multinational corporations.”
To find out more about Go ON Gold, visit www.go-on-gold.co.uk <http://www.go-on-gold.co.uk>
Paralympian handcyclist Karen Darke, who goes for gold in London in September, has joined a group of inspirational individuals who are backing a new campaign aimed at helping disabled people access the internet.