Last night I talked to the Hull Web Developers about digital inclusion. Here are the key points from the presentation.
For many people with limited mobility and/or sensory impairment, the Internet offers valuable opportunities to maintain independence.
Digital industry has adopted a ‘ME’ Model of computer access; this assumes everyone uses a Mouse for navigation and their Eyes to see the content on the screen. The result is digital exclusion.
In an increasingly digital society, exclusion from digital practices is by nature invisible.
As the government moves towards ‘digital by default’ delivery of information and provision of services, we need to promote ‘access for all’ where access is redefined as ‘quality of access’.
We also need to challenge the argument that inclusive digital design is not worth it. There are millions of people who could benefit from assistive technology if online environments were created with a diverse range of access in mind.
- 17% of people are born with an impairment – 87% acquire one in later life (Papworth Trust, 2010)
- 2 million people affected by sight loss; 80,000 of working age, 25,000 children (RNIB, 2008)
- 9 million people with hearing impairment; potentially excluded from podcasts without transcripts or video without captions or subtitles. (Action on Hearing Loss, 2010)
- 130,000 people have a stroke each year, @ 63,000 people develop physical, sensory or cognitive impairment and likely to be using assistive technology for accessing the Internet. (Stroke Society 2010)
- 10 million people living with arthritis; developing restriction of movement and likely to be using assistive technology for accessing the Internet. (Arthritis Care 2010)
The intention of the founders on the Internet was to create a democratic environment where everyone had equal access. This is still an achievable objective. Digital inclusion is worth fighting for and digital divides can be bridged.