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Digital exclusion in Wales: progress being made, but more action needed says Commissioner

in Resources, Research & Reports

Digital exclusion in Wales: progress being made, but more action needed says Commissioner

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has published an update highlighting the action that has been taken in response to her Access Denied report, which examined the impact of digital exclusion on older people’s lives.

The Commissioner’s report, which was based on the experiences shared by over 150 older people living throughout Wales, found that a growing number of older people in Wales are at risk of social exclusion and being left behind as the use of digital technology continues to play an even greater role in our everyday lives.

The report included a series of recommendations to help ensure people’s rights to access information and services are upheld if they are not online, targeted at a range of key organisations including local authorities, health boards, the Welsh Government, other public bodies and private companies.

The Commissioner’s update highlights that while progress is being made and there is a greater awareness of the issue of digital exclusion, much more needs to be done by public bodies and others to ensure that people who are not online or who have limited digital skills are not excluded.

The Commissioner’s team will continue to work with the Welsh Government, public bodies and other organisations to ensure the recommendations in the Access Denied report are taken forward, which will include scrutiny of plans, policy and practice, as well as highlighting older people’s experiences and ensuring their voices are heard.

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:

“The ways we access information and services and the ways we communicate have changed significantly, particularly in recent years, and we’ve reached a point where being online isn’t only about making certain activities easier, but is now almost essential to enable us to participate in everyday life and do the things we need to do.

“As I highlighted in my Access Denied report, many older people are facing significant digital barriers, which are affecting more and more aspects of people’s everyday lives and creating stress and anxiety when undertaking tasks that were previously straightforward.

“I’m pleased that, as highlighted in my update, progress is being made in a number of areas, such as improving telephone services and written communications, and there is much more awareness about why providing non-digital options is so important for older people and other groups at risk of digital exclusion.

“But much more needs to be done to ensure older people who are not online can access the information and services they need, something we all have a right to, and do not experience an inferior service.

“That’s why my team will scrutinise plans, policy and practice, in addition to working with the Welsh Government and key public bodies, including local authorities and health boards, to ensure my recommendations are taken forward.

“My team will also continue to highlight the impact of digital exclusion on older people, as well as ensuring that older people’s voices are heard to enable and support further change so that no-one is left behind.”

Read the Commissioner's Access Denied Update Report

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