Public ICT access and use for people with disabilities (PWDs): a pilot study of public inclusive design

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Qiling LongKin Wai Michael Siu

Abstract: The access and use of the Internet in public spaces is becoming more extensive, and increasingly regarded as a transitional stage to achieving the ultimate goal of private internet access for all citizens (Viseu et al., 2006). Internet in public spaces does not only narrow the digital divide and promote digital inclusion, but is also a basic requirement for the realization of the information society. However, there may still be inequal access to information and communication technologies (ICT), especially for people with disabilities (PWDs), that has been widely overlooked. This ‘digital disability divide’ (Dobransky and Hargittai, 2006; Sachdeva et al., 2015) is widely acknowledged as affecting the equal participation of PWDs in society, hindering the construction of an inclusive society. The current academic literature related to digital inequality has focused on internet access and use of a diverse population segment, but there is deficient research on the ‘digital disability divide’, especially focusing on public ICT facilities. In order to bridge this gap and promote social inclusion, this paper takes the social model of disabilities as an objective group, exploring the public disabilities inequality theories and exclusive phenomenon through a deep literature review and onsite observation. This paper summarizes the four forms of public interactive behaviours of PWDs based on the four elements of ICT engaging with the public space from Abdel-Aziz et al. (2016). Also, a framework of public digital disability barriers that correspond with the ICT elements in public spaces has been proposed. By applying inclusive design thinking and principles, this paper identifies the deficiencies in design of existing ICT facilities. This paper also identifies and discusses key directions for improving digital disabilities inclusion in public spaces from a design policy and practical perspective. Suggestions for further study directions are also offered.

Keywords: Digital Disability Divide, Digital Inclusion, Inclusive Design, Public Space

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003328

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