Opportunities and challenges related to ICT and ICT-AT use by people with disabilities: An explorative study into factors that impact on the digital divide
Kärki, Anne I.
Hoogerwerf, Evert Jan
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BACKGROUND: This paper presents part of the work undertaken by the European Network for Technology Enhanced Learning in an Inclusive Society (ENTELIS) to respond to the need for bridging the digital divide. It is based on previous evidence of lack of digital skills of people with disabilities of all ages to effectively participate in the digital society. OBJECTIVE: The paper aims to present the results of an exploratory study conducted in different European countries in order to identify needs, barriers, opportunities and good practices. METHODS: Data collection included the collection of experiences and best practices, and interviews conducted with different groups of people with disabilities of all ages and other stakeholders in five countries. RESULTS: Results emphasize the vital role of ICT-AT for independence, social integration, educational success, employment opportunities, and overall quality of life, while there seems to be heterogeneity in the way technology is considered and utilized among various groups of PwD. A number of challenges and barriers for ICT-AT competence development are also identified. CONCLUSIONS: Considerations and suggestions for further research, for policy and for practice implications are discussed, mainly focused on reducing the abandonment of ICT-AT, on responding to user's heterogeneous needs and on strengthening facilitating factors for the acquisition of digital competencies.