The Pew Internet Project recently issued a short report noting that people living with disability are less likely than other adults in the U.S. to use the internet: 54%, compared with 81%. The first question many people ask when they hear that is, Why? The second is, What can be done? The third is, or should be, What can we learn from this?
Statistically speaking, disability is associated with being older, less educated, and living in a lower-income household. By contrast, internet use is statistically associated with being younger, college-educated, and living in a higher-income household. Thus, it is not surprising that people living with disability report lower rates of internet access than other adults. However, when all of these demographic factors are controlled, living with a disability in and of itself is negatively correlated with someone’s likelihood to have internet access.
Just 2% of American adults say they have a disability or illness that makes it harder or impossible for them to use the internet. Eight percent of people living with a disability say this is true. However, this estimate is based on a telephone survey, which does not include people who are not able to use either a landline or cell phone due to hearing loss. If you are interested in more details on this issue, Evans Witt, CEO of our polling firm, Princeton Survey Research Associates International, recommends the following article:
“Inclusion of People With Disabilities in Telephone Health Surveillance Surveys,” by Susan Kinne, PhD, and Tari D. Topolski, PhD [PDF]