Our new report Building Digital Confidence shows how digital skills training makes a significant difference to the daily lives of parents/carers and their ability to support their disabled children.

More than 600 parents and carers have received training through a Digital Skills Programme from Family Fund. The programme provides parents/carers with the essential skills, knowledge and understanding to support them to access the benefits of being online and make the most of their digital device.   

Before the training, only 16% of parent/carers said they knew how to set parental controls on their device and just 28% felt confident about how to stay safe online. After training, these figures rose to over 90% and 70% respectively.

Similarly, 86% of people surveyed said they were now confident in using their device, compared with just 46% before training.

The bespoke programme, tailored to support the individual’s needs, skill level and the type of device used by parents/carers, has been delivered through one-to-one training sessions at home as well as within group training sessions, all delivered by qualified and experienced trainers.

One parent said, “[The trainer] trained us on exactly what we needed to know at a pace that I was able to understand and was patient and very knowledgeable. I felt I have gained more confidence and understanding of how well I can use the iPad to help with my child's needs.”

Training covers topics specifically aimed to support the needs of parents/carers such as learning to use apps that support their disabled child, make scheduling appointments easier, setting up parental controls, sourcing information through general internet usage, making the most of accessibility features, communicating through social channels, or video calling friends and family.  This can be particularly valuable for families raising disabled children, who can often find themselves isolated and excluded. 

Parents/carers were able to apply features and controls, and support their child with their specific needs, such as engaging more with their child’s schoolwork, improved communication and a greater awareness of their child’s online life, including staying safe online. 

“We use the tablet for communication, for YouTube and for information. Since the training, we are trying to use the iPad to further my autistic son's communication. I feel more confident - I learned a couple of new features which are useful to use and learned about apps which might help us.”

Jenny Laycock, Digital Delivery Manager at Family Fund said, “Digital technology is a big part of life and can be life-changing for those with additional needs. Without the knowledge or skills to use these devices, families can find themselves excluded and in isolation from the wider community. By providing parents and carers of disabled children with these basic digital skills, we can start them on their journey into making their lives a little bit easier, opening up opportunities for them and their family.”

Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive of Family Fund, said, “We know from the parents themselves the huge impact that iPad technology can have with communication, education, social interaction, motor skills and much more. This is the just the start of a journey for many parents/carers and we are delighted to have been able to provide that first step for over 600 families

“There is however much more to do and we aspire to seek further partnerships with funders, and those leading the way in a digital world  to help us to close the gap on the digital divide experienced by so many parents/carers raising disabled children across the UK.”

Click here to read the full Building Digital Confidence report.

You can also read Jenny Laycock's blog on how learning digital skills changes lives.

To learn more about our digital skills programme, visit our digital page.