DfES puts Disability Group magazine in online centres

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) is backing a new online version of the BCS Disability Group's magazine by...

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) is backing a new online version of the BCS Disability Group's magazine by distributing the paper version to its public online centres across the UK, writes John Kavanagh.

The magazine, called Ability, is the only UK publication focusing exclusively on the role of IT in alleviating disability.

For the second year running the DfES is sponsoring the distribution of Ability to all the online centres it is setting up to bring IT to some of the UK's most disadvantaged areas. As part of this programme it has funded the initiative to put the magazine online.

The site includes the latest issue, plus a library of feature articles from back issues and a directory of sources of help.

The Government has set the target of having 6,000 online centres operational by the end of the year. More than 3,000 are already open; about 2,800 are supported by the government, with the rest situated in libraries and existing IT centres.

"This latest move by Ability underlines the progress made over the past five years towards establishing it as an authoritative source of information about IT for disabled people and the carers and organisations that support them," the BCS Disability Group says.

"What was in effect a standard group newsletter has been turned into a national magazine of general interest which has gone from strength to strength."

Major sponsors include Ford Motor Company, which runs a company-wide programme to encourage workforce diversity. Ford's backing has already enabled Ability to go from four issues a year to six.

Ford says it recognises the impact IT can have on impaired people's lives, and Ability's role in spreading the word. It uses the magazine to support internal initiatives and is also sending it to all its UK Motability dealers.

"We are committed to having a diverse workforce and providing a workplace that is accessible to all," says Ford Europe's IT and e-business infrastructure director Richard Thwaite. "Sponsoring Ability gives us insights into the application of technology to improve accessibility.

"It also gives us a connection to IT professionals which may encourage them to consider Ford positively as both a potential employer and a manufacturer of great cars."

Ability is published by the BCS Disability Group in association with the AbilityNet charity, which advises disabled people, employers and carers on IT and assesses disabled people's needs.

The need for the magazine and for its distribution to online centres is reflected in the fact that more than 6.5 million people in the UK have a long-term disability or health problem that substantially affects their daily activities, and proportionally more of these are in disadvantaged areas, where many of the centres are being set up.

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