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Most Blind and Partially Sighted Older People Have Never Gone Online

Monday, January 28th, 2013 (1:16 pm) - Score 882

A new telephone and face-to-face survey of around 370 blind or partially sighted UK people over the age of 65, which was jointly conducted by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and BT, has revealed that 87% of respondents have never used the internet.

It’s estimated that there are currently almost 2 million people in the UK with sight problems and around 100 people are added to this number every day. Indeed by 2050 the number of people with sight loss in the UK is widely expected to reach nearly four million!

As you’d expect 82% of respondents blamed their lack of online activity on poor eyesight. The other significant reasons given included, not knowing much about the internet (60%), too difficult to use (52%), not having the right skills (34%) and not having the accessibility software required (32%).

Liz Williams, BTs General Manager of Sustainable Business, said:

Older people with disabilities such as sight loss stand to gain so much from using the internet, yet this research tells us that, for the majority, getting online is a major challenge. BT has a long standing commitment to helping people to get online, and I am confident that by working with RNIB and other organisations, we can make important inroads into helping older people use and benefit from the internet.”

Unfortunately those affected often end up in a state of technological alienation and thus aren’t able to take full advantage of what the online world has to offer. Richard Orme, RNIB’s head of Accessibility, said it was “vital that we take action now so we can break down these barriers as soon as possible“.

The full report – Tackling Digital Exclusion (PDF) – goes into more detail about the problem and suggests several ways forward, such as access to better training for those with eyesight problems. In addition it also notes that more than half of the 13% of people whom had used the internet had only used it once or not at all in the last six months.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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