IT Can Help Network

Volunteers wanted for ITCH (Scotland)

ITCH (IT Can Help) is a network of volunteers who are prepared to offer computer-related assistance to disabled people. Help may be needed at the client's home, or at another location such as a day centre.

The aim is not to provide long term support, but to come in quickly to help solve technical problems, or get a user started with a new package. Sometimes the help may be to identify suitable equipment and to install it.

I.T. can literally be a life-line to a disabled person. Many people rely on I.T. as their primary means of communication, as their only means of independence or as a way of earning a living.

People behind the scheme

The BCS Disability Group (BCSDG) is a special interest group that focuses on how computer technology can help those with special needs. It has been working with the voluntary disability sector for over 20 years.

Also involved is REMAP, a national body of engineers, who have set up over 100 panels, mostly in England, to help disabled people. They can undertake the design of one-off devices, the adaptation of equipment and other innovative hardware-related services.

Setting up in Scotland

ITCH has been running in England, since 1994. It was launched in Scotland in 1999. We now have three teams centred in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, between them they cover most of the population. In time we would like to extend the service to cover more of the landmass of Scotland.

Will you help us?

Volunteers are currently required for Argyll & Bute, Highland, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

As a BCS member, the likelihood is that computing in one shape or form has given you a very good living. Perhaps you have thought that it would be nice to offer your professional help to others less fortunate, but haven't had the opportunity? Well, here is your chance!

I can promise that the commitment will not be onerous. We do not need huge numbers of volunteers for Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee, but we do need a reasonable geographical spread, and a good mix of computing skills. (We already have an adequate number of volunteers in Edinburgh and Borders).

Most calls for help are likely to be for PC assistance and for help using standard packages and perhaps getting started on the Internet. However, many disabled clients need to use speech technology and special access devices such as on-screen keyboards accessed by alternative pointing devices.

If you have knowledge of special access devices, or experience with speech technology your help would be especially welcome.

If you are willing to be added to our database of volunteers, please see the ITCH web site for more information and an on-line application form. Alternatively contact the Scottish Organiser, either by email or by post at:

Dr Alison Crerar,
ITCH Network Organiser for Scotland,
c/o School of Computing,
Napier University,
10 Colinton Road,
EH10 5DT