Crossing the digital divide

Thursday, 10 March 2016 11:46am

A recent discussion paper states that 1 million Australians with a disability don’t have internet access at home, because of cost, complexity and/or connectivity issues. This is well below the national average, yet an expert in web accessibility, Dr Scott Hollier, maintains that with the right technology, those with an impairment or disability can access information on the net, quickly and easily.

No access sign

The recent Australian Digital Inclusion Index report notes that 1 in 5 Australians (equating to around four million people) are not able to take advantage of the health, educational and social benefits of being connected. Out of these four million people, one million of them with a disability don’t have home-based internet access.

Dr Scott Hollier, the Director of Digital Accessibility with Media Access Australia, believes that choosing the right devices and being aware of compatibility options can help reduce the divide between those who can, and those who can’t, access the web.

"In order for a person with a disability to effectively get internet access, two things have to happen," says Dr Hollier. "One is that the person with the disability has to have the tools they need on their particular device or computer. And the other is that those particular websites or apps have to be designed in a particular way.

“A lot of devices today have accessibility features built in, which they didn’t have ten years ago… and so our attention turns to the need to make the web and apps compatible with these tools. And that's really the big issue now."

Listen to a March 2016 radio interview with The Wire’s Laura Corrigan who talks with Dr Scott Hollier on the issues and fixes for disabled internet users.


Read the transcript of The Wire's interview with Dr Scott Hollier on 'Crossing the digital divide'.

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