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DigiAcademy: Empowering learners with accessibility needs through digital skills

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DigiAcademy is an accessible digital skills education platform created with and for people with intellectual disabilities and autism. Funded by EIT Health, this project focuses on health, education, and technology for individuals with special needs and involves partners from Ireland, Croatia, Spain, Sweden, and France. Building upon the experiences of over five hundred people with autism and other intellectual disabilities, the DigiAcademy team of professionals developed this inclusive education platform to deliver meaningful content deemed valuable by the community. Each of its EU partners works as an advisor making recommendations to the research team in developing digital education content and reviewing all key project decisions and platform design.
This project stands out due to its co-design process for creating digital tech-based education content with and for people with accessibility needs – ensuring it is inclusive to everyone. By prioritising user-friendliness and tailoring the platform and content to the specific needs of their target audience, DigiAcademy offers a unique resource for digital skills education.  
DigiAcademy promotes the digital and social inclusion of adults with intellectual disabilities at different levels. Through the platform, learners can set their learning plans and learn digital skills via accessible video courses. The education content is presented at a pace that the learners can adjust themselves, with the possibility of revisiting topics as frequently as they like. Learners can create their learning plan while the platform allows them to connect with key supporters anytime. DigiAcademy educators are people with autism and other intellectual disabilities who train their peers at a pace that meets their needs. They focus on accessibility features and functions while empowering learners to lead the digital lives of their choice.
DigiAcademy’s goal is to support people with accessibility needs to access and use technology to improve their quality of life. As our Collective advocates, digital skills should be considered a basic skill, as they are fundamental for life and work. In this line of thought, an interconnected goal of the project is creating accessible employment for people with intellectual disabilities who experience one of the lowest employment rates in Europe.
Currently, DigiAcademy is the only accessible digital skills education solution that has been co-designed with and for this specific target group, highlighting the importance of co-creating solutions for the current digital skills divide. This platform has replicability as an integral component of the project as it is a pan-European interdisciplinary project. DigiAcademy’s partner countries – Croatia, France, Spain, and Sweden – replicate project elements in their own country to validate and expand on research findings. 
These are the reasons why DigiAcademy was the winner of The European Digital Skills Awards 2023 for Inclusion in the Digital World category. These awards recognise initiatives that are supporting Europeans in all areas related to digital skills, showcasing engaging projects and good practices that support digital skills for everyone – regardless of age, gender, disability, and location. They are given in five different categories to recognise active contributions supporting the Digital Decade targets set by the European Commission.
As a regional organisation that connects individuals lacking basic digital skills with digital learning opportunities, DigiCo works catalysing social impact through the category where DigiAcademy stood out: Inclusion in the Digital World. This category relates to digital training and media literacy initiatives for the elderly, the unemployed and other groups in vulnerable situations. We are building a community of digital inclusion advocates to share knowledge, best practices and project spotlights such as this one to bridge the digital divide through a multistakeholder approach. Join our digital inclusion movement today