Fifty-four percent of adults living with a disability use the internet, compared with 81% of adults who report none of the disabilities listed in the survey.
Statistically speaking, disability is associated with being older, less educated, and living in a lower-income household. By contrast, internet use is statistically associated with being younger, college-educated, and living in a higher-income household. Thus, it is not surprising that people living with disability report lower rates of internet access than other adults. However, when all of these demographic factors are controlled, living with a disability in and of itself is negatively correlated with someone’s likelihood to have internet access.
People living with disability, once they are online, are also less likely than other internet users to have high-speed access or wireless access. For example, 41% of adults living with a disability have broadband at home, compared with 69% of those without a disability. This finding is in line with a much larger 2009 federal survey which looked at the data another way: 39% of American adults who do not have broadband internet access are living with a disability.
Pew Internet’s research has consistently shown that broadband access and mobile access deepen an internet user’s relationship with the online world:
- 43% of Americans say that people who do not have broadband at home are at a major disadvantage when it comes to finding out about job opportunities or learning career skills.
- 34% of Americans see a lack of broadband access as a major disadvantage to getting health information.
- People with wireless internet access are more likely than other internet users to post their own health experiences online or to access the health information created by other people in online forums and discussion groups.