Inclusive Public Activities for Information and Communication Technologies
WHO estimates there are more than 1.2 billion people around the world with some form of disability. Only 10% of people who need Assistive Technology (AT), including ICT and digital technologies, have access to it. Lack of access to digital AT/ICT deprives children of education and excludes adults and older people from work and family life.
As science and technology advance dramatically around the world, ICT and AT digital solutions, such as navigation apps, speech-to-text functions, etc., can greatly improve a disabled person’s ability to successfully navigate life, work, and community life.
Despite great advances in fundamental technology development, many technologies fail to scale and be adopted by disabled people or into the healthcare, education, and employment systems that provide ICT/AT to disabled people. When technology is adopted, it is often abandoned—over a third of technology is regularly abandoned by disabled people. A core reason for this is a lack of co-design, which requires additional time, effort, and resources that are often lacking or limited within research projects.
Across the UK, disabled people remain a third less likely to be employed than their non-disabled peers, and a lack of ICT/AT and accessibility are often cited as causes of this, something that has been amplified globally by COVID. This picture is despite a significant ICT research portfolio across frontier technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence, which have the potential to disrupt the types of technology we design with disabled people. For this to happen, understanding and trust must be developed between emerging technologies, researchers, and disabled people.
InPACT will develop infrastructure, training, and amplification to support disabled people to be further engaged in future EPSRC-ICT research. We see this project as part of a longer vision to build the aspirations of the next-generation ICT disabled researchers while simultaneously developing robust mechanisms for disabled people to be better able to interact with current and future research. This will be achieved through three workstreams: (1) Inclusive ICT Research, (2) Digital Literacy Skills, and (3) Public Participation.