Digital divide Among People with Disabilities: Analysis of Data From a Nationwide Study for Determinants of Internet Use and Activities Performed Online

Duplaga, Mariusz
PloS one

The Internet is both an opportunity as well as a challenge for people with disabilities. However, this segment of the population is usually indicated among social groups experiencing digital divide. The study is focused on the analysis of factors determining Internet usage and undertaking specific activities online among people with disabilities based on a nationwide study performed in 2013 in Poland.
Secondary analysis was performed on the data of persons who declared disability status in 2013 "Social Diagnosis" study. Multivariate logistic regression models were developed for the use of the Internet and performing three types of activities online.
Among 3,556 respondents with disability 51.02% were females, 25.19% 65 years of age and over and 33.05% were Internet users. The predictors of Internet usage included the degree of disability, place of residence, level of education, marital status, occupational status, net income, use of health care service and the use of mobile phone. The odds ratio that a person with disability belonging to the oldest category will use the Internet was only 0.04 (95% CI 0.02-0.09), when compared to the youngest category. The odds that a person with disability from the highest category of education will use the Internet were 18 times higher than in the case of persons with only basic education (OR 18.17, 95% CI 11.70-28.21). Common predictors of online activities (accessing websites of public institutions, checking and sending emails, publishing own content on the Internet) included age category and net income.
People with disabilities in Poland are facing a significant digital divide. The factors determining the use of the Internet in this group are similar to those of the general population. On the other hand, people with disabilities who are active online, access diversified types of services including presentation of their own content online.