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Workshop 5 – Empowerment to overcome the digital divide

Workshop 5 : Empowerment to overcome the digital divide
JDE 63 / Thursday, 24 May 2018, 16:00 – 18:00
Organised by AGE Platform Europe and the European Disability Forum

Programme

16:00  Opening speech

  • Sirpa Pietikäinen, EPP Member of European Parliament (tbc)

16:00  Setting the scene: Which digital divides and how can we reduce them?

  • Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary-General, AGE Platform Europe
  • Alejandro Moledo, New Technologies & Innovation Officer, European Disability Forum
  • Gérard Peltre, President, Ruralité-Environnement-Développement (RED) asbl

 

16:15  Good and promising practices across Europe (panel discussion)

  • Prof. Herbert Kubicek, ifib, Germany: “Increasing older persons’ digital inclusion through co-creation - the Mobile Age methodology”
  • Milad Ahmed, MacMillan, UK: Digital technology to offer support to cancer patients living in rural isolated areas
  • Sophie Schuermans, Anysurfer, Belgium: Improving the accessibility of digital technologies via trainings in schools, Anysurfer experience in Belgium
  • Myrto-Maria Ranga, 50plus Hellas, « Improving digital skills of older persons – the “Access to the Digital World” project in Greece »

17:00   Policy response: what are our 3 key recommendations? (panel discussion)

  • Serge Novaretti, Policy Officer, eGovernment and Trust Unit, DG CNECT, European Commission (tbc)
  • Tatjana Babrauskiene, International Secretary, Lithuanian Education Trade Union
  • Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary-General, AGE Platform Europe
  • Alejandro Moledo, New Technologies & Innovation Officer, European Disability Forum
  • Gérard Peltre, President, Ruralité-Environnement-Développement (RED) asbl

17:30   Questions and comments from the audience

17:50 – 18:00        Wrap up by panellists


Concept

Workshop rationale

Digitalisation is deeply transforming our daily lives. It promotes the dream of optimized access to services, reduced costs, increased efficiency, and better opportunities for civic participation.

However, accessing public services, planning travels, enrolling in courses, etc., without Internet access becomes more and more complicated. Many initiatives have been carried out in recent years to ensure that all citizens benefit from a good broadband coverage. While this is still a necessary effort for many rural regions in Europe, another key issue remains: digital skills. Digital skills greatly vary according to age and socio-economic status. 79% of people living in the EU28 use the Internet at least once a week, but only 57% of people aged 55-74 do, against 96% of people aged 16-24. The numbers are very similar when they are put in relation with educational level.

Differences are even more striking when looking at what different people do on the internet. Large differences have been noted when it comes to using the Internet for civic participation, for interacting with public authorities, or for email exchanges and social networks: only 6% of people aged 55-74 use the Internet to take part in online consultations and voting, against 10% of people aged 16-54; 4% of people with no or low education level do, against 12% of students and 15% of people with high formal education.

For persons with disabilities, it is important that coherent standards on the accessibility of websites and mobile applications are defined and enforced, to avoid creating new barriers. Despite the Internet’s original promise, our societies face the risk of becoming more unequal.  Policy action is crucial if we want to create inclusive virtual public spaces and offer all citizens equal opportunities to exercise their rights.

During the workshop, a variety of initiatives will be presented to show how this can be implemented at different levels, and how a focus on vulnerable groups and on inclusiveness can make a difference when it comes to equal access to online tools and opportunities.

Workshop 5