ADA may be broadened to include Internet

The Americans with Disabilities Act may be broadened by the Department of Justice to include the Internet and the ability of individuals with disabilities to access websites. When the Americans with Disabilities Act was crafted and then passed in 1990 the Internet was not an everyday fact of life. A time to publically comment on the expansion of authority of the ADA has recently closed as a new study shows those with disabilities do not use the internet at the same rate as those without disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was originally created to allow people with disabilities the ability to go places they were not previously able to go. As such, experts then pose the question of whether the Internet is a similar place that people go and whether people with disabilities need additional help. According to new research that was conducted by the Pew Internet Project more Americans with disabilities are having trouble online.

According to the Pew Internet Project about 2 percent of Americans have a disability that inhibits their ability to use the Internet. The other statistics that the study found begin to show a stark contrast regarding Internet use between Americans with disabilities and Americans without. According to the study, among American adults who do not have a disability 81 percent use the internet. In comparison, among American adults who identified living with a disability on the survey, 54 percent use the internet. The difference in use of broadband is also clear.

Among American adults who do not live with a disability listed on the survey, almost 70 percent access the internet through broadband. In contrast, among American adults who live with a disability, just over 40 percent access the internet through broadband. Experts say while people with disabilities have a lower percentage of broadband use and internet use, they rarely cite a disability as a reason. One expert from the World Institute of Disability explains the conundrum by saying that when an individual lives on a fixed income, other expenses can take priority over the Internet.

Source: Marketplace.publicradio.org, “What are the barriers to the Internet for people with disabilities?” 1/24/11

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