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COMPUTER AND INTERNET USE BY PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY
SEVERITY OF DISABILITY
Internet use varied by severity of disability. Amongst all age groups, people with profound core-activity limitation reported lower levels of internet use than those with less severe restrictions (Graph 2). For example, 37% of people with profound core-activity limitation aged 35-64 years had used the internet in the last 12 months compared to 66% of those with a mild core-activity limitation.
In 2003, 56% of people with a disability aged 15 years or more had access to a computer at home. By 2009, this had risen to 70%.
In 2003, 36% of people with a disability aged 15 years or more had used the internet in the last 12 months compared to 53% of the Australian population. By 2009, this had risen to 53% for people with a disability and 74% for the Australian population as a whole (Endnotes 2 and 3).
WHAT ARE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY USING THE INTERNET FOR?
Most people with disability used the internet for private reasons (97%) or for work and study purposes (34% and 28% respectively - people could nominate multiple uses, so a person might appear in several categories simultaneously). This was similar to the overall Australian population of whom 96% used the internet for private reasons, followed by 46% for work purposes and 39% for education purposes (Endnote 2).
A key target of the National Disability Agreement is that people with disability ‘achieve social inclusion’ (Endnote 4). Social interactions that take place between friends and family using phones and the internet are a crucial aspect of this inclusion in today’s technological world.
In 2009, 1.3 million people with disability aged 15 years or more (36% of all people with disability aged 15 years and over) had internet contact with family and friends outside of the home in the last 3 months. In general, younger people were more likely to have had this contact than older people (Graph 3).
People with profound core-activity limitation were less likely to be using the internet than those with milder disability status. However, younger people were more likely to have had internet contact with family and friends regardless of the severity of their disability. For example, 32% of people aged 15-34 years with profound core-activity limitation had used the internet in the last 3 months to contact family and friends outside of the home compared to 7% of those aged 65 years and over. This pattern was observed across all levels of disability severity.
FREQUENCY OF CONTACT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS VIA THE INTERNET
Younger people used the internet to contact family and friends more frequently than older people. Of those aged 15-34 years with disability who had contacted family and fiends, 47% were using the internet several times a day compared to 26% of those aged 35-59 years and 25% of those aged 65 years and above (Graph 4). This was in keeping with the general population aged 15-24 years who were more likely than any other age group to have used the internet for social networking and gaming (Endnote 2).
1. Kaye, H.S. (2000). Computer and Internet Use Among People with Disabilities. 'Disability Statistics Report (13)'. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, accessed 31 Jan 2012 <http://www.dsc.ucsf.edu/pdf/report13.pdf>
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008-2009, 'Household Use of Information Technology', Australia, cat. no. 8146.0, Australia
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002-2003, 'Household Use of Information Technology, Australia', cat. no. 8146.0, Australia
4. Council of Australian Governments, 2009, National Disability Agreement, Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations, COAG, accessed 28 March 2012, http://www.federalfinancialrelations.gov.au/content/national_agreements/disabilty/Disability_Agreement.pdf
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