Step 2: Applying for benefits

Provide access to communications tools (computers etc.)


Access to a telephone, computer, printer, or the internet are critical in applying for benefits, printing out paperwork, or contacting benefits administrators to discuss issues. Making these tools available to clients can help with the process of accessing benefits.

You should be prepared with the following:

  • Physical space — An accessible and private space for community members to use the telephone, computer, printer, and the internet.
  • Policies and Procedures — Because these resources are often in high demand, many organizations have policies and procedures guiding their use (e.g., time limits or sign-up sheets, ‘approved’ purposes for technology use, etc.).
  • Technology — Many government forms require up-to-date versions of software such as Adobe Acrobat.
  • Staff time — It is helpful to have a designated person to manage schedules for use of the tools and to support community members who may need assistance using this technology.
  • Promotion — If planning to promote this service externally, the creation of marketing materials and outreach will be required.

  • Designate technology and an accessible space within your organization for community members to access. You can also consider having a staff person available to assist community members who require support.
  • Create promotional materials to let community members know they can access these communication tools to support their access to benefits.
  • Create instructions on how to use the technology in plain language - and multiple languages if possible.

  • Technology and communication tools can be very frustrating for individuals with low digital literacy. Ensure that staff have the training and patience for working with vulnerable individuals in supporting the use of communications tools.
  • Consider offering a charging station with cables for various types of phones. If clients are waiting for their appointment, it can be helpful to provide this service.
  • It can also be helpful to have a laptop and printer designed for clients to look up information, set up direct deposit or print off government documents to go with their benefits applications.

  • Public libraries are a great example of this type of service. If you’re considering offering similar services, connect with your local library to learn more about how they approach administering these services.
  • The Halifax public library gives $5 of free printing to every cardholder every month, and then charges a fee afterward. Providing options for free use of these services greatly reduces the barriers for people living on low incomes.
  • To ensure your technology is accessible, apply for the Accessible Technology program to help cover the costs.

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Best practices

Get practical tools, methods, and advice. Learn from other organizations who are already providing access to benefits services by accessing this collection of their best practices.

Best practices