Many disabled people still lack internet access

Ofcom report shows that group that relies heavily on public services is ill placed to respond to channel shift

People with disabilities or low incomes are increasing their use of the internet, but still less than the rest of the population, according to communications regulator Ofcom.

It has highlighted these as findings from its first Access and Inclusion report, which examines whether the communications market is delivering for vulnerable consumers.

Wheels of wheelchairThe headline findings have significant implications for the digital transformation of public services, showing that a group that is most dependent on the sector is still less likely to have access through online channels.

While not placing a brake on channel shift strategies, it does indicate that authorities need to continue devote resources to more traditional forms of contact.

Among the main findings of the research is that the proportion of disabled people with access to the internet increased from 65% in 2014 to 79% in 2016, leaving one in five still not online. However, they are becoming more likely to use tablets and smartphones, the figures for both rising by 16% to 46% and 57% respectively.

The figures are part of a broader trend in which, Ofcom says, the needs of vulnerable people are not being consistently met by the communications market.

It highlights findings that older consumers are less likely to find better deals and discounts in the communications market, often remaining on standard or list prices, and that younger consumers have serious problems with debt.

Image from zeevveez, CC BY 2.0 through flickr