Wireless Technology Uses and Activities by People with Disabilities

Date of Publication: 
2014 December

Access to and use of wireless consumer technology (e.g., mobile devices like cellphones, smartphones, tablets, software and services) has become ever more critical to social and economic participation, particularly for people with disabilities. Rates of ownership of wireless devices among people with disabilities have risen considerably in recent years, narrowing substantially the gap in ownership rates with the general population. But what do people with disabilities actually do with their wireless devices? This article presents findings from the Survey of User Needs (SUN), a national survey on use and usability of mainstream wireless technology by people with disabilities. Data from the most recent SUN conducted in 2012-2013 will be presented, focusing on the wireless activities of people with disabilities. Data on the following uses will be analyzed: accessing the internet, text messaging, emailing, downloading and using mobile apps, social networking, using GPS and location based services. Results show that as a group, people with disabilities and use wireless services at rates similar to the general population. However, substantial variation exists in use of some services between disability types, mainly those with hearing, speech or vision loss.


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