In today’s interconnected world, internet access is often considered critical for accessing work. However, reliance on the internet also poses challenges for some disabled people, who may be vulnerable to digital exclusion.

This Round 4 Innovation Fund project examines the impact of digitalisation on UK third-sector organisations, focusing on disabled adults’ participation in online and offline voluntary work.

It brings together an innovative interprofessional team of social scientists, third sector practitioners, vocational rehabilitation practitioners, disabled people, and digital engagement specialists to examine digital inclusion of disabled adults in voluntary work.

The project will yield fresh empirical insights from large-scale surveys and individual interview data, along with practical and policy guidelines to reduce the risk of exclusion. The findings will also have practical implications, supporting the inclusivity, employability, and well-being of disabled individuals, with potential applicability to paid work.

Research questions

  1. How do disabled adults access and use the Internet? How has that changed since 2018?
  2. How does the digital inclusion of disabled individuals facilitate their involvement in offline and online voluntary work, and affect their employability and wellbeing?
  3. What are the digital barriers and challenges that hinder disabled individuals’ engagement in online and offline voluntary work?
  4. What strategies can enhance disabled adults’ participation and inclusivity, leveraging the potential of digital technologies in the third sector?

Method

A mixed-methods approach is adopted for a more comprehensive understanding of the research problem.

This includes:

  • Analysing three surveys’ data to examine digital exclusion patterns and trends among disabled adults, its effects on voluntary work, wellbeing, and employability, with a potential for generalisation across the population.
  • Accompanying qualitative interviews and analysis that will provide deeper understanding and explanations for these patterns through analysis of the lived experiences of disabled adults.

Researchers

Principal Investigator: Professor Daiga Kamerāde, University of Salford

Co-Investigator: Professor Andrew Clark, University of Greenwich

Co-Investigator: Christine Parker, University of Salford

Co-Investigator: Dr Cristina Vasilica, University of Salford

Co-Investigator: Dr Christine Goodall, HEAR Network