Rapid digitalisation in response to the pandemic has brought more and more of our daily lives online, including our workplaces, shopping and public services.

There is now an urgent need to make sure that technology allows everyone to participate fully in our increasingly online society. Not all digital devices, hardware and software are user-friendly for each and every one of us. Accessibility needs to be designed into technology from the start.

This is why cross-party think tank Policy Connect is launching an ATech Policy Lab, designing public policy so technology works for everyone. When done correctly, tech can be life-changing for older and disabled people, enabling people to live healthy, rewarding and independent lives.

The Lab will bring together disabled people, sector leaders and researchers to get into the detail of policy design, incubate new ideas, stress test the best proposals and generate the evidence and insight that moves policymakers to action. This will be done through interactive policy design workshops, targeted policy proposal papers, collaborative research projects and more.

The Lab builds on recent momentum in ATech policy. The government’s recent National Disability Strategy makes tech a clear priority. This is encapsulated by its new ambition to ‘make the UK the most accessible place in the world to live and work with technology’, and significant government funding has been set aside to scope a Centre for Assistive and Accessible Technology.

The ATech Policy Lab is launched in partnership with Bournemouth University and the Ace Centre. Bournemouth University has made ATech one of its four Strategic Investment Areas, building on its established research specialism in the field. Ace Centre is a national charity providing services enabling people with complex needs to communicate by using technology. The partnership with these organisations will provide academic rigour and expertise in service delivery to the Lab’s work.