Disability and internet use in Australia

DATE: 29 April 2015

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The past two decades has seen the internet become a feature of everyday life for most Australians.

But has this included Australians with disability? On this topic,the ABS 2012 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers asked people if they’d accessed the internet at home in the previous 12 months.

Key facts

  • People with any disability are 5-15% less likely to use the internet at home than people without disability around the same age.
  • However, internet usage is much lower for people with a “profound limitation”, particularly those over 30.
  • Accessing social networks is the leading internet activity among people with disability, although at a lower rate than the general population

Ways we can move towards are more inclusive internet:

  • Adopt web accessibility standards, e.g. such as those listed on the Web Accessibility Initiative website.
  • Provide Easy English content for people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Call for governments to subsidise internet access for people with disabilities on low incomes.

Technical notes

“Disability” is used to mean the broad ABS definition of disability, and includes persons over 65. See the ABS website for details.

“Profound” disability is a classification used in ABS disability statistics. It is a useful proxy for the most frequent and intensive users of disability services. A person is so classified if they (or a household member) report that they are always unable to do, or always require supervision or assistance with an activity involving mobility, communication, or self-care. See the ABS website for details.

Rates of internet use in the general population are calculated from separate ABS data are available on the ABS website.

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