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Half of people who have stopped using the internet are disabled

Friday, May 22nd 2015 by Dean Reilly

Almost half of the people who have stopped using the internet in the last three months are disabled, new research has revealed.

The Office of National Statistics' (ONS) Internet Users 2015 report, revealed that 48% of the people who had not been online in the last three months – referred to as ‘lapsed’ users – are disabled.

This is in spite of disabled people only making up approximately 17% of the overall population.

The research also found that 27% of disabled adults in the UK (3.3 million) had never used the internet.

In statistics gathered during the first quarter of 2015, 99% of UK adults without a disability and aged 16 to 24 years were identified as recent internet users.

In contrast, 95% of disabled people from the same age bracket were classified as recent internet users.

The trend continued amongst adults aged 75 years and over. Just 27% of those with a disability were identified as recent internet, compared to 40% of those without a disability over the age of 75.

Cable.co.uk previously reported how the head of a new body set up to address issues faced by disabled and older people in accessing digital services felt that web accessibility wasn’t seen as important by some designers.

Kevin Carey, chair of the Digital Accessibility Alliance, told Cable.co.uk “The Government policy is right on accessibility, but in my view it is too often the case that accessibility is ranked lower than other attributes such as house style.

'False belief'

“There is, in my opinion, the false belief that accessible sites are not visually attractive.

“This is partly because of the disability sector itself, but also the case that designers tend to think accessibility is difficult and expensive.”

Accessibility also remains an issue in the wider telecoms sector. Yesterday, Cable.co.uk reported Ofcom findings that the quality of TV subtitling is improving, but more needs to be done to control speed and readability.

Regulator Ofcom also recently fined BT £800k over its failure to provide an improved text-to-voice service for customers with hearing or speech impairments.

BT was hit with the fine after failing to meet an agreed deadline to make an accessible and enhanced ‘Next Generation Text Service’ available to customers.

The Office of National Statistics uses the term disabled to refer to respondents who self-assess that they have a disability in line with the Equality Act.

The 2010 act says that individuals are disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on the ability to do normal daily activities.

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