Disability digital divide: the use of the internet, smartphones, computers and tablets among people with disabilities in Sweden


Artikel publicerad i Universal Access in the Information Society, 2020. Författare: Stefan Johansson, Jan Gulliksen och Catharina Gustavsson.


Although Sweden is one of the most digitalized countries and the Swedish population’s use of the internet is among the most studied in the world, little is known about how Swedes with disabilities use internet. The purpose of this study is to describe use of and perceived difficulties in use of the internet among people with disabilities and to explore digital divides in-between and within disability groups, and in comparison with the general population.

This is a cross-sectional survey targeting the same issues as other nationwide surveys but adapted for people with cognitive disabilities. Participants were recruited from May to October 2017 by adaptive snowball sampling. The survey comprised questions on access to and use of devices, and use of and perceived difficulties in use of internet.

A total of 771 people responded to the survey, representing 35 diagnoses/impairments. Larger proportions of people with autism, ADHD and bipolar disorder reported using internet than other disability groups. Women with autism used the internet more than any other disability group, and women with aphasia used the internet the least. People with disabilities related to language and understanding reported more difficulties using internet than other disability groups. Larger proportions of participants than the general Swedish population reported not feeling digitally included. In many but not all disability groups, larger proportions of men than women reported not feeling digitally included. Our findings show that there are differences in digital inclusion between sub-groups of diagnoses/impairments. Thus, disability digital divides are preferably investigated by sub-grouping disabilities, rather than studied as one homogeneous group.

Stefan Johansson
Tillgänglighetsexpert och doktor i människa datorinteraktion