Report Reveals Digital Divide for Women with Disabilities
4 April 2013 at 10:46 am
There’s a disturbing level of disadvantage faced by women with disabilities in accessing information and communication technologies (ICT) according to a new report released by Women with Disabilities Victoria, in conjunction with the Self Advocacy Resource Unit (SARU).
The report says that in an age where delivery of information, communication and services are becoming increasingly digital, those without access are experiencing new forms of disadvantage and being further socially and economically excluded.
The Report was funded by the Victorian Women’s Trust. It recommends government, ICT companies, education facilities and disability services have a responsibility to address women’s lack of access to ICT.
Report author, Chris Jennings, says ‘we are fast approaching a time when it is no longer an issue of personal choice — those without access to the internet will be seriously disadvantaged by society’s increasing use and dependence on it’.
The report draws on research and consultation with women with disabilities, particularly those who are socially isolated, as well as a series of workshops held by Chris Jennings to discuss ICT issues with women with disabilities.
“The women participating were enthusiastic about the opportunities the project provided to learn about and use information technology. Women who might traditionally be perceived as less able to use IT demonstrated their skill in navigating computers and different software programs.
“The intersection of gender inequality and disability presents a situation of multiple disadvantage.”
The report found that women with disabilities too often faced the compounding effects of poverty, lack of education and employment, fear of exploitation and gender stereotypes.
“These multiple layers of disadvantage create barriers to accessing ICT that are extreme. For example, the high incidence of unemployment amongst women with disabilities further denies them exposure to and familiarity with ICT otherwise afforded those in the workforce and at the same time limits the financial resources they need to buy their own computers and technical support,” Jennings said.
The report highlights that “When looking at labour force participation, women with disabilities are particularly affected, with a participation rate of 49% – well below the 60% participation rate of males with disabilities and the 77% participation rate of females without disabilities (ABS 2009).”
The Report is available through the Women with Disabilities Victoria website
'Your Say, Your Rights': Women with disabilities and Information Communication Technology (ICT) PDF (1MB)