Hucknall group for partially-sighted people warns of computer communication breakdown

Computers must not be allowed to take over as an exclusive means of communication, it was claimed at this week’s meeting of Hucknall Partnership Group.

Wendy Wells, of the Partially Sighted Society, said more than seven million people in the UK had never involved themselves with computers.

“Everything is going paperless and this means the answers to surveys carried out on the internet alone will be skewed,” she added. “This is a serious problem and it concerns me a lot.”

Coun Trevor Locke, a Hucknall Labour member of Ashfield District Council, said: “A lot of people struggle with computers. Access to the internet is far from easy for visually-impaired people.

“People with an eye problem cannot keep staring at a screen. It is like looking at TV all day.

“We should not stray from the fact that use of computers is important, especially for young people.

“But we need to raise awareness that a substantial number of people do not have anything to do with computers.”

Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall, who is a member of Ashfield Council and Notts County Council, said communication as a whole was becoming a major problem.

He had found that people he spoke to knew nothing about a Hucknall locality plan consultation last week, even though full details were published on the Ashfield Council website and in newspapers.

“This is very worrying because it could mean that a large number of people may not be getting to know what is happening in the country as a whole,” said Coun Wilmott.

The group sympathised with the aims of a Keep Me Posted campaign, a partnership of representatives from charities, interest groups and businesses.

They are fighting for the consumers’ right to choose how they are contacted by banks, service providers and other organisations.

A campaign spokesman said: “Increasingly, businesses are restricting access to paper bills and statements and denying their customers an informed choice.

“Independent research shows that 81 per cent of adults want to choose how they receive such important information. This issue affects everyone and particularly the vulnerable in society.

“The research reveals that the people who often have the greatest need for paper bills and statements are the older generation and disabled people who lack access to the internet or basic digital skills.”

The campaigners stress that customers should not face a financial penalty as a result of choosing to receive information by paper.