Digital Accessibility Specialist Group

Computer keyboard with an accessibility green key

Digital Accessibility (DA) is defined as the ability for all individuals to easily use information technology products and services regardless of any physical or mental impairment they may suffer from.

Those most impacted are described later by the terms '[having] impairments' or 'disabled'. The terms are often used interchangeably. In fact, the former refers to secondary consequences of some conditions (like dexterity, memory or sensory challenges). The latter refers to the consequent barriers in society.

Statistics from the Office for Disability Issues show that:

  • There are over 11 million disabled people in Great Britain (ca. 20% of the population) with millions more experiencing effects of aging not recognised on disability registers.
  • In 2012, 46.3% of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4% of working-age non-disabled people.
  • Disabled people are significantly less likely to live in households with access to the internet than non-disabled people. In 2011 61% of disabled people lived in households with internet access, compared to 86 % of non-disabled people

Clearly there are a number of reasons for these statistics but the ease (or otherwise) of access to IT systems for individuals with disabilities is a significant factor as the statistics on internet access indicate. A large number of disabled people have never been online because digital services remain inaccessible to them. However, both public and commercial organisations are pressing ahead with a digital by default approach to services. As the Go On UK website states:

'11 million people in the UK aged 15 and over still don't have basic online skills - yet 90% of all jobs will require ICT skills by 2015.'

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