Over a quarter of people with disabilities say that they do not frequently have choice and control over their daily lives according to a survey carried out by the ONS and, in another ONS survey, around a third of people with disabilities said that they experience difficulties related to their impairment in accessing public, commercial and leisure goods and services.
These two facts combined with the knowledge that people with disabilities are significantly less likely to live in households with access to the internet than people without disabilities means that we as a charity still have a lot of work to do.
Despite the fact that computers have come down in price over the years, that second hand or reconditioned equipment is available, that broadband is far less expensive than it once was – if your budget is stretched to breaking point these things are not going to figure very highly on your essentials list.
If you then think about having the knowledge to use IT equipment, the support to help maintain both the machinery and the user it is easy to see why millions of people with disabilities are still without access to the very thing that would help them gain some control over their daily lives and give them access to goods and services. There is, of course, also the well being factor – social isolation is a feature of both poverty and the difficulty many people with disabilities experience with travelling.
We don’t say that using a computer will solve all these problems but what we do say is that it will help give back some control. As the Government rolls out it’s “Digital by Default” agenda (with more and more services available online) people who are unable to use the internet will become further isolated and without choice – it’s an issue we have always needed to address but somehow it feels like time could be running out.