Digital Access

Continuing on from last weeks discussion about digital inclusion, a key element once inclusion is granted, is how well individuals are able to engage with participatory media and the level of accessibility of mainstream media. Revisiting the Australian Digital Inclusion Index, the first principle relating to access when examined more through roughly includes not only physical access but the extends to individuals’ ability in using and developing individual levels of digital literacy (Digital divide report 2018).  Accessibility is an aspect often overlooked in the details of simple everyday elements of internet use such as web design, many of these require simple solutions that are overlooked in the process of design. These simple omissions overlooked have serious consequences for everyday Australians with statistics suggesting under 1 in 5 Australians is living with a form of disability (ABS 2013). This represents a group of 4.2 million, this shows that internet access may present an issue for a large portion of individuals, denying them internet recourses and limiting their access.  

A way to understand how limiting the internet can be for disabled individuals is by examining internet access through the lenses of the social model of disability. The social model of disability suggests ability is measures by medical disability, and that disability really lies within the social construction and attitude of which disabled people are treated in “ an environment filled with physical, attitudinal, communication and social barriers”(PDWA Australia 2108). This idea that the world around us shapes the ability of our disabled community is one that needs development and change. This online assumed “ableism” is an element of the social conditioning around disability being a minority and seen as unnecessary for mainstream participatory media is a damaging notion for increasing access in developing digital literacy. “Disability is deeply implicated in what we regards “normal” (Davis, 1995): an ‘ableism’ that has a significant role in how societies are arranged, governed and controlled. As Fiona Campbell (2009) has shown, ‘ableness’ is produced along with ‘disability’ ( contours of ableism). This reflection is paramount when considering ability and access for the internet, that websites excluding access is what creates disability for these individuals and requires addressing on a legal and social level to overcome stigmas surrounding disability and create greater access for these individuals.

People With Disability Australia 2018, “social model of disability” Viewed 24th August 2019

Thomas, J, Barraket, J, Wilson, CK, Cook, K,
Louie, YM & Holcombe-James, I, Ewing, S, MacDonald, T, 2018,
Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: The Australian Digital
Inclusion Index 2018, RMIT University, Melbourne, for Telstra.

Fiona K. Campbell “contours of ableism” 2009 pp. 45-46.

Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the BodyLennard J. Davis 1995.

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