Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Half a million pounds of funding to support people with learning disabilities to navigate the internet

Google.org has granted the learning disability charity Mencap £500,000 of funding to deliver accessible online harms training to people with learning disabilities.

The funding, Mencap say, will be used to create better information and resources to support people with learning disabilities online, as well as to deliver wrap-around care and support, including mentorship and in person classes.

The charity also plans to conduct ‘robust research’ and create content and materials for young people, families, carers and schools which can be used to help shape policy around online harms for people with a learning disability.

People with learning disabilities at high risk of online harms

Mencap says they hope the funding will enable more people with learning disabilities to use the internet safely. Currently, this group are at high risk of various online harms, including financial scamming, harassment and even threats of violence.

This can leave people with learning disabilities fearful of using the internet, leaving them isolated and unable to connect with others and build positive friendships and relationships online.

Mencap has long been campaigning to ensure that some of the most vulnerable people in society have accessible support and resources to be safe online.

The funding comes alongside the opening of the first dedicated Accessibility Discovery Centre outside of the US. This facility will drive research and development in accessible technology.

“When people have equitable access to information and opportunities, everyone wins”

Edel Harris, Chief Executive of Mencap, said: “We are thrilled to receive this funding from Google.org to create accessible online harms content and delivering training for young people with a learning disability to stay safe online.

“There are 1.5 million people in the UK living with a learning disability and we know that while being online and using social media can be a great way for them to connect with others, build communities and tackle loneliness it can also be a place where they receive bullying, abuse or are victim to scamming.”

Ms Harris says the funding will enable the charity to do some “much needed research” and allow young people with a learning disability will be able to develop new online skills, shop, work, make new friends and feel part of online communities – just like everyone else.

Rowan Barnett, Director of Google.org EMEA said: “When people have equitable access to information and opportunities, everyone wins. We know that technology — and working directly with people with disabilities themselves — are key to helping us achieve this goal.

“I am delighted that we are able to support Mencap with funding for their critical work to deliver digital citizenship and online safety education for young people with learning disabilities in the UK.”

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