studentsTHUMBONLY four in ten of disabled people use the internet – and the majority of websites continue to fail to meet the legal minimum standards of accessibility.

A new report from digital inclusion charity Citizens Online also says that much more needs to done to educate everyone about the benefits of accessible sites.

Grant Broome, of Dig Inclusion, a business that provides training in digital accessibility, said: “Fewer disabled people are online partly because they face multiple social exclusions – they are more likely to have lower incomes or lower quality internet connections, for instance. However, even once they are online, many disabled users face accessibility frustrations due to the way in which websites and software are built.”

The UK’s Equality Act is one of the furthest-reaching pieces of legislation in the world regarding accessibility, but there is no case law precedent yet, and no significant pressure from government on service providers who do not make their sites or apps accessible.

Francis Barton, one of the authors of the report, said: “Society is not divided into two clear groups, disabled and non-disabled people.

“Everyone is likely to journey from relative disability in childhood, through periods of greater ability and then in later life back to relative disability again, as for instance eyesight, memory or dexterity deteriorate. We are all, at the very least, not-yet-disabled, and it is the ‘standard web user’ – adult, fully-able-bodied, and literate which is really the minority group.”
Fact file

There are 11 million disabled people in the UK, 76 million across the EU and more than 550 million worldwide.

Disabled people are more likely than average to browse using a smartphone, rather than a laptop or desktop computer.

Over-65s will become well over 10% of the EU population by 2025.

2.2 million people in the UK have difficulty with memory, concentration or learning, and 2 million people in the UK have dyslexia. Many more have low levels of literacy or numeracy.

1.8 million people in the UK have a vision impairment, of which 180,000 are registered blind.

Almost 2 million people in the UK have a hearing impairment, of which 50,000 use British Sign Language to communicate.

2.6 million people have difficulties using their hands, which may impact their use of keyboards, screens and mice.

Over 1 million have a progressive, cyclical or fluctuating condition such as multiple sclerosis, that will periodically affect their ability to use the web.