Who Benefits From ICT Accessibility?
User groups who can benefit from ICT accessibility include people with disabilities and the elderly.
Disability can take many forms and can cover a wide range of impairments - some people have sensory disabilities covering difficulties with hearing, speech and sight; others are physically disabled and have problems with mobility; some suffer from cognitive impairments such as dyslexia and learning difficulties and there are those who battle with the debilitating effects of diseases such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Some people are affected by several syndromes at once:
- Visually impaired
- Hearing impaired
- Deafblind people
- Physically impaired
- Cognitively impaired
- Language impaired
- Ageing population
Definition of disability
Definition of disability under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is as follows: The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
For the purposes of the Act:
- substantial means neither minor nor trivial
- long term means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)
- normal day-to-day activities include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping
- a normal day-to-day activity must affect one of the 'capacities' listed in the Act which include mobility, manual dexterity, speech, hearing, seeing and memory
Some conditions, such as a tendency to set fires and hay fever, are specifically excluded.
People who have had a disability in the past that meets this definition are also covered by the scope of the Act. There are additional provisions relating to people with progressive conditions.
The DDA 2005 amended the definition of disability. It removed the requirement that a mental illness should be 'clinically well-recognised'.
It also ensured that people with HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis are deemed to be covered by the DDA effectively from the point of diagnosis, rather than from the point when the condition has some adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Demographics of user groups with problems using ICT
The table below shows user groups that have problems using ICT as a percentage of the European population. Please note that multiple impairments are common.
|User group with problems using ICT||Percentage of population in Europe|
|Cannot walk without aid||5|
|Cannot use fingers||0.1|
Cannot use one arm
|Hard of hearing||6|
In addition to the above groups there are groups for which it is difficult to obtain reliable statistics such as people with allergies and people sensitive to electromagnetic radiation. Also, there are many people who dislike or distrust technological systems.
"Consumers and the communications market report" by Ofcom Consumer Panel (2007) looks at how consumers with a disability under 65 compare with consumers in the UK overall.
- Consumers under 65 with a disability have higher levels of ownership than other groups, but more likely to have difficulties using technology
- Less likely to have a landline or internet access at home
- More likely to live in a mobile only household and this figure has increased since last year
- More likely to have visual, hearing or mobility difficulties using TVs, PCs, landline or mobile phones. TVs cause biggest difficulties, with main problems relating to hearing
- The gap between those with a disability under 65 and UK consumers overall in respect to home internet access is widening
- Broadband ownership has increased, but still a gap with the rest of the UK
- Those aged under 65 and with a disability are less likely to use the internet for purchasing goods, finding information for work and banking
- Around one in five consumers under 65 with a disability have or say they would be likely to have difficulties with mobiles, TVs and landlines
- Ownership of digital TV has increased and remains in line with the UK average
- International Center for Disability Information (n.d.) Disability Tables. [accessed 20/02/08].
- Mellors, W.J. (n.d.) Statistics on Age and Disability in Relation to Telecommunications: A Significant Market (PDF version). [accessed 20/02/08].
- National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR). [accessed 20/02/08].
- United Nations Statistics Division (n.d.) DISTAT, the United Nations Disability Statistics Database. [accessed 20/02/08].
- University of California, San Francisco (n.d.) Disability Statistics Center. [accessed 20/02/08].
- Directgov (n.d.). Disabled people. [accessed 12/05/08].
- Lamb, J. (2007). The IT Directors' Guide to Accessible IT. [accessed 14/05/08].
- Ofcom (2007). Ofcom Consumer Panel: Consumers and the communications market report. Focus on consumers under 65 with a disability. (PDF). [accessed 11/09/08].