The Importances of Creating Digital Opportunity For People With Disabilities



September 21, 2000

Access to computers, the Internet, and other information and communications technologies are becoming increasingly important for full participation in America's economic, political, and social life. If technology is designed to be usable by people with disabilities, it can increase their ability to participate in the workforce and lead independent lives. Examples of technologies that empower people with disabilities include:

Unfortunately, people with disabilities are often on the wrong side of the "digital divide," as reflected in rates of computer ownership and access to the Internet. When information and communications technologies are not designed to be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, isolation from the economic and social mainstream is intensified. The following statistics illustrate the magnitude of the challenge.

There are 54 million Americans with disabilities

People with disabilities are half as likely to have a computer as people without disabilities

The Internet is more likely to improve the quality of life for adults with disabilities than adults without disabilities

Only 31 percent of Americans with "severe" disabilities are working

Roughly half of those with work disabilities earn less than $25,000 annually

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