The first digital divide is between the haves and the have-nots. A recent Commerce Department report contained important information about the extent to which people with disabilities are still on the sidelines of the digital revolution. Internet use among householders with a disability is only 48% compared to 76% for householders with no disability. Only 53% of households headed by a person with a disability own a computer, compared with 79% of households without a disability householder. The broadband adoption rate is 46% for disability householders, as compared to 73%. Clearly I’m one of the lucky haves on this divide. A disability rights lawyer, Lainey Feingold wrote an excellent letter to the New York Times on this big divide: http://lflegal.com/2013/08/digital-divide/
But just because I have computer access, thanks to WindowEyes a speech output program from GW Micro, www.gwmicro.com doesn’t mean I have information access that I want. Take the case of a play “Molly Sweeney” a friend recommended. The public library has it, I think from consulting their user-friendly online catalog, but because of a poorly done electronic record I can’t reserve it. One state library for the blind has a recording of it, so I’ll try for interlibrary loan.
What I’ve done so far this week to help narrow digital divides is coach a blind friend on how to subscribe to a blog, give feedback on the beta version of our state public radio’s website and pass on info about accessible tech to a teacher of the visually impaired. Kind of sticking a finger in the dike, I know, but at least it’s a finger. Yours are welcome too!
p.s. There’s an app for that! www.npr.org/playgrounds talks about a database in development listing accessible playgrounds. Now there’s technology being used to close a divide; bravo!