Research project aims to improve digital inclusion of disabled volunteers

Categories: Research, School of Health and Society

A research project has been launched to explore the digital inclusion of disabled adults in both online and offline voluntary work. 

This innovative project represents a significant leap forward in understanding the challenges and opportunities faced by disabled individuals in today's digitally connected world.

Led by Professor Daiga Kamerāde from University of Salford, and funded by Digital Futures of Work Research Centres Innovation Fund (ESRC) this research project is significant in the pursuit of digital equity and social inclusion. 

Daiga explains: “In today's interconnected society, internet access has become synonymous with accessing work and other opportunities. However, this very reliance on digital technology poses a formidable challenge. Marginalised groups, particularly disabled people, are at risk of digital exclusion, potentially leaving them at a disadvantage.”

The research will be conducted by an innovative interprofessional team including social scientists, third-sector practitioners, vocational rehabilitation specialists, disabled adults, and digital engagement experts, to tackle the complex issue of digital inclusion. The interdisciplinary team will focus on examining the impact of digitalisation on UK third-sector organisations, with a specific emphasis on disabled adults' participation in both online and offline voluntary work.

The researchers will: 

  • Analyse large-scale surveys to examine digital exclusion of disabled adults since 2018, and how this affects their engagement in voluntary work, employability and wellbeing. 
  • Engage in individual interviews to gain nuanced insights into the digital experiences and challenges faced by disabled adults in the voluntary sector.
  • Develop practical guidelines and policy recommendations aimed at reducing the risk of digital exclusion and enhancing inclusivity.
  • Explore the how findings can be applied to the broader context of paid work, with an eye toward improving employability and wellbeing for disabled individuals.

This research project is further strengthened by important industry partnerships. HEAR Network and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), British Association of Brain Injury and Complex Case management (BABICM), Vocational Rehabilitation Association (VRA), and Case Management Society (CMSUK) have joined forces with the research team, contributing invaluable resources and expertise. These industry partnerships underscore the project's commitment to real-world impact and the applicability of its findings.

Daiga continued: “The outcomes of this research project are expected to have far-reaching implications. By shedding light on the digital barriers faced by disabled adults, the project aims to pave the way for a more inclusive society. 

“This project represents a significant step towards a more equitable and digitally inclusive future, where no one is left behind in the digital age.”

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