This is my first blog for UCanDoIT since I joined late last year as CEO. My name is Samantha Barber.
Let me start by saying that I am new to assistive technology, although I’ve worked in the voluntary sector for 20 years. I’ve been fortunate to have worked in a wide range of charities, from tiny ones to large, household names for diverse causes: housing, the environment, young people and social care. All my roles have focused on income generation and communications. My working life is complemented by a number of trusteeships. I formalised my experiences with a MSc in Voluntary Sector Management from Cass Business School as I realised fairly early on that this is the sector I will always work in. I strongly believe in the voluntary sector, our independence and our ability to help with the social problems seen as too difficult by others.
I decided to come to UCanDoIT for a number of reasons. Partly, I had been very impressed by the IT project at my previous organisation, which had a huge impact on the lives of disabled and vulnerable Veterans. I also have family circumstances that have increased my personal experience of the need for appropriate assistive technology. Professionally, I wanted a new challenge in a new role. UCanDoIT offered me the ideal opportunity to combine all these elements.
Before I joined, I’d heard about AT and had seen some bits and pieces but
had not delved into it deeply. Well, that has all changed! Every day I am learning something new about AT and also the accessibility of technology in general. As Henry Louis Mencken said: ‘For every problem there is a solution’ and that is certainly the case with assistive technology. Usually, there is a piece of software, application or hardware available to provide a remedy to any barrier to benefiting from technology.
A lot is bandied about in this sector about those who are digitally excluded. For many people that really does seem to mean not being able to access technology, such as not being able to afford a computer. But it isn’t. So much of our lives, our world, is conducted online today that those who have not yet accessed it are therefore excluded. And some people need a guide to overcome that exclusion, someone who can reassure and help navigate the gloriously overwhelming expanse of options and opportunities. This is, in my view, the essential factor in overcoming digital exclusion and is precisely what UCanDoIT provides.
Over the past few months I have learnt that UCanDoIT is a great, small, feisty
and passionate charity that seeks to change people’s lives by taking them into the new world that relies so much on technology. My role is to assemble the charity’s resources to best meet the demand for our service. I will speak about that and our new strategy next time.
In the meantime I wish you all well and happy IT.