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A2WDISABLED people are less likely to have used the internet than non-disabled people in every age group, according to a new report from the Office for National Statistics.

The information, taken from the Labour Force Survey, shows that the gap in the percentages who have used the internet widens in older age groups, with 10.9% of disabled 45-54 year olds having never been online, compared with only 2.8% of non-disabled adults in the same age group.

Looking at the overall figures, the South East was the region with the lowest proportion of adults who had never been online (8.6%), with Northern Ireland remaining the highest (18.8%). At a local level, the area with the highest proportion who had last used the internet more than three months ago, or who had never used it, was the Isle of Anglesey (40.9%), with the lowest being Thurrock (4.6%).

The share of UK adults who have never used the internet decreased from 12.6% (6.4m) in Q1 2014 to 11.4% (£5.9m) in Q1 2015.

Recent internet usage was highest among 16-24s (98.8%) and lowest among over 75s (33%). Internet usage by women continues to be lower than men, particularly in older age groups, with only 27.3% of women over 75 having been online.

The full ‘Internet Users, 2015’ statistical bulletin is available here

THE ONS report backs up findings from the digital inclusion charity Citizens Online, which said that only four in ten disabled people use the internet – and that the majority of websites continue to fail to meet the legal minimum standards of accessibility.

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.”

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

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

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

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

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