The Media in Figures: Disabled consumers’ ownership of communications services

PEOPLE aged between 15 and 34 have broadly similar access to the internet, irrespective of whether they have a disability, or not.

According to research published by broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, there is 90 per cent access for this age group who have a disability, as opposed to 93 per cent for the same age group without a disability.

Adds Ofcom, the figures rise to 94 per cent for disabled people and 97 per cent for non-disabled people “among the more affluent in this age group”.

Other figures include the following:

* For older (65+), less affluent disabled people, internet access levels are at their lowest (23 per cent), “which is significantly lower than among non-disabled people of the same age and socio-economic group (37 per cent)”.

* Across all age groups, internet ownership is 55 per cent for disabled consumers, compared with 83 per cent for non-disabled consumers. Continues Ofcom: “This can partly be explained by their older profile as half of disabled people are aged 65+.”

* Ofcom continues: “The report also shows that mobile phone access is broadly comparable between disabled and non-disabled adults across most age groups. Ninety-two per cent of disabled people aged 15-34 have a mobile phone compared to 87 per cent among non-disabled adults in this age group. Two-thirds of disabled people aged 75+ have a mobile phone but this is lower than among non-disabled people of the same age (72 per cent).”

* There are also variations by type of disability. Internet access is highest among people with hearing (64 per cent) and visual impairments (62 per cent) but lowest among people with mobility impairments (53 per cent) or multiple impairments (51 per cent). Of all disability groups, people with mobility or multiple impairments are the oldest, most likely to live alone, and have a lower household income.

* The majority of disabled internet users are using the internet daily or more often (73 per cent), although this is lower than non-disabled internet users (85 per cent).

* People with a visual impairment go online most frequently, with 81 per cent of internet users accessing the internet at least once a day.

* They also using the internet more for social networking (53 per cent compared with 45 per cent for the disabled average^) and job searches (25 per cent compared with 16 per cent disabled average and 22 per cent non-disabled average). This reflects the fact that there are more young people with visual impairments than other types of disability.

* Similarly, access to most communications services is equal to or higher among disabled people in employment compared to the average for non-disabled people. Mobile (91 per cent), PC ownership (86 per cent) and internet access (87 per cent) are all higher among disabled people in employment compared to the non-disabled average (87 per cent, 79 per cent and 83 per cent).

^ ‘Disabled average’ means the average ownership levels across all people with any type of disability.

Source: Ofcom, Disabled consumers’ ownership of communications services, September 25 2013.