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Disability Digital Divide: The Use of the Internet, Smartphones, Computers and Tablets among People with Disabilities in Sweden
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0167-2557
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2411-6417
Center for Clinical Research Dalarna, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden Nissers vag 3, SE-79182 Falun, Sweden ; School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Dalarna University, Falun, Sweden Dalarna University, SE-79188 Falun, Sweden ; Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden BMC, Box 564, SE-751 22 Uppsala, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0167-2557
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Although Sweden is one of the most digitalized countries and the Swedish population’s use of the internet is among the most studied in the world, little is known about how Swedes with disabilities use internet.

Purpose

To describe use of and perceived difficulties in use of the internet among people with disabilities, and to explore digital divides in-between and within disability groups, and in comparison to the general population.

Methods

A cross-sectional survey targeting the same issues as other nationwide surveys but adapted for people with cognitive disabilities. Participants were recruited from May to October 2017 by adaptive snowball sampling. The survey comprised questions on access to and use of devices, and use of and perceived difficulties in use of internet.

Results

771 people responded to the survey, representing 35 diagnoses/impairments. Larger proportions of people with autism, ADHD and bipolar disorder reported using internet than other disability groups. Women with autism used the internet more than any other disability group, and women with aphasia used the internet the least. People with disabilities related to language and understanding reported more difficulties using internet than other disability groups. Larger proportions of participants than the general Swedish population, reported not feeling digitally included. In many but not all disability groups larger proportions of men than women reported not feeling digitally included.

Conclusions

Our findings show that there are differences in digital inclusion between sub-groups of diagnoses/impairments. Thus, disability digital divides are preferably investigated by sub-grouping disabilities, rather than studied as one homogeneous group.

Keywords [en]
Disability Digital Divide, Accessibility, Internet Access, Internet Usage, Internet Skills, Smartphone, Tablet, Assistive Technology. Inclusion. Exclusion.
National Category
Interaction Technologies
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-262817OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-262817DiVA, id: diva2:1362509
Note

QC 20191021

Available from: 2019-10-21 Created: 2019-10-21 Last updated: 2019-10-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Design for Participation and Inclusion will Follow: Disabled People and the Digital Society
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Design for Participation and Inclusion will Follow: Disabled People and the Digital Society
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Digitalization is rapidly taking over all aspects of society, but still there are parts of the population who have to struggle for access to, and to be able to use, the digital resources. Design processes and outcomes in the form of artefacts, that takes accessibility into account, is key to participation. This gives the designer a central role in providing for a more equal participation of all, in the digital society. The work in this thesis contributes to a better understanding of the prerequisites for participation in the digital society, and in the design processes to accomplish this, by presenting research done together with three communities: people with cognitive impairments, people with mental health issues and homeless people.

The overall question has been How can participation in the digital society be understood? We have investigated the nature of difficulties or enabling factors for people with impairments, people with mental health issues and homeless people, when using the internet. We have also investigated possible digital divides within the groups, and how they can be explained.

Ontologically, the work is based on an assumption that knowledge is to be found in a dialectic interplay between the material world and how we interpret what is going on in this world. The underlying epistemological assumption is that data has to be empiric, and critically interpreted in dialogue between members of the communities, which are being researched, and other stakeholders. This work draws on the idea of emancipation and that research can be liberating.

The work also takes on a pragmatic stance. We have used adapted versions of Emancipatory Participatory Research, and of Participatory and Value Sensitive Design, thus making them accessible to people with cognitive impairments, people with mental health issues or homeless people. We have tested and adapted methods for sampling of rare populations, to enhance the quality of quantitative studies of how people with impairments and people with mental health issues have access to, and are using, the internet.

In our research, we have found fourteen prerequisites, all of which need to be in place to provide for participation. To promote participation, we need a toolbox of methods and accessible tools. Finally, to analyse what is going on we need an analytical model which allows for analysis on multiple levels and from multiple perspectives.

As a result, I here propose, define and position a framework for researching and understanding participation in the digital society, based on three parts: Guidelines, Ethics and Statistics. Guidelines can be understood as the theories, the regulations, the standards, etc. that inform our thinking. Ethics guide us in the right direction. Statistics make progress or lack of progress visible.

The conclusion is: if we plan for participation - by improved statistic survey sampling methods, a participatory approach to collaborative research and in using research methods in an accessible and emancipatory way – inclusion will follow.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2019. p. 142
Series
TRITA-EECS-AVL ; 2019:78
Keywords
Design, Accessibility, Universal Design, Participation, Disability Digital Divide, Inclusion
National Category
Interaction Technologies
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-262819 (URN)978-91-7873-325-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-11-22, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20191021

Available from: 2019-10-21 Created: 2019-10-21 Last updated: 2019-10-21Bibliographically approved

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