Feds: People With Disabilities Face Digital Divide
Even as more Americans gain high-speed Internet access in their homes, those with disabilities continue to lag behind.
Of households headed by those with disabilities, just 43 percent had broadband Internet access in 2010. That compares to 72 percent among those without disabilities, according to a report released this week from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The data comes from a survey of over 54,000 American households on Internet usage that was conducted by the Census Bureau last fall.
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Socioeconomic factors appear to be a major reason behind the lack of Internet access among those with disabilities, the report found. When researchers controlled for income, education, age and other demographic and geographic variables, the disparity in access between those with and without disabilities dropped to only about 6 percent.
“Closing the broadband adoption gap is a priority because Americans increasingly need 21st century skills to succeed in today’s economy,” said Rebecca Blank, acting deputy commerce secretary, who notes in the report that Internet access is often critical to obtaining employment.
In addition to people with disabilities, the Commerce Department report also highlights other groups that are less likely to have broadband access including those who are black, Hispanic and less educated in addition to rural residents.