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Press Release: Institute for Community Inclusion Bridges Digital Divide

New Study Identifies Effective Ways to Increase Internet Use Among Hard-to-Reach-Groups


Originally published: 7/2007


Quinn Barbour
Institute for Community Inclusion
617-287-4309 (voice)
617-287-4352 (fax)

Boston, MA, July 2- Certain hard-to-reach populations within the United States and the United Kingdom are being excluded from online government services and transactions (e-government) through lack of access. These groups of individuals, including rural, poor, senior, disabled, and/or ethnic-minority populations, and their degree of access to e-government were the focus of a six-month study conducted by Heike Boeltzig, a research associate with the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), and Doria Pilling, a UK researcher. According to Boeltzig, "The findings confirm that people who would most benefit from accessing online government services are least likely to use them. Policymakers need to consider this when shifting services online. What use is e-government if those who most need it are unable to access it?"

The report, "Bridging the Digital Divide for Hard-to-Reach-Groups," identifies social and technical barriers presently limiting access to e-government in these two countries, and examines how individuals currently without access could most benefit from online government services. Boeltzig and Pilling also present six case studies of actions being taken in the US or the UK to increase Internet use among these groups of citizens. In addition, the authors propose their own 10 recommendations for increasing access to and use of the Internet among the hard-to-reach.

"Bridging the Digital Divide" was published by the IBM Center for the Business of the Government and featured in the Spring 2007 issue of the UK's Ability magazine. To download a copy, visit http://communityinclusion.org/project.php?project_id=44. For additional information on increasing Internet use among hard-to-reach groups or to schedule an interview with Heike Boeltzig, contact Quinn Barbour at quinn.barbour@umb.edu.

The Institute for Community Inclusion is a national disability research and training center based at the University of Massachusetts Boston, with additional offices at Children's Hospital Boston. ICI promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in their communities through training, consultation, clinical and employment services, and research. For more information about ICI, visit www.communityinclusion.org.

ICI: promoting inclusion for people with disabilities