The use of, access to, and accessibility of ICTs for persons with disabilities in South Africa

This report assesses the use of, access to, and the accessibility of information communication technologies (ICTs) for persons with disabilities. It reviews relevant policies and regulations, identifies barriers to ICT access, accessibility, and use, and identifies targeted interventions to enhance digital inclusion in the disability sector in South Africa. 

In this work we categorise barriers into infrastructural, financial, technological, socio-cultural, education, implementation, and enforcement barriers, among others. These involve issues such as the digital divide between rural and urban areas, the high cost of assistive devices, the lack of universally accessible devices and platforms, and social stigmas that hinder the effective use of ICTs by persons with disabilities. Furthermore, inadequate enforcement mechanisms, insufficient government support, the limited availability of data, and low levels of digital literacy among persons with disabilities exacerbate these barriers.

The identification of good practices suggests the need for investment in infrastructure, particularly in the rural areas, to bridge the digital divide. The report highlights the importance of affordability, the development of universally designed platforms, and government intervention to subsidise assistive technologies. It emphasises the need for clear regulations, enforcement mechanisms and collaboration

Nevertheless, despite this limitation, and despite constitutional rights for people with disabilities, it can be said that access to the full range of socio-economic opportunities that can be enabled through ICTs is limited for persons with disabilities, with unemployment disproportionately high among this marginalised group. This suggests a deeper systemic issue that needs consideration.

This report includes both short and long-term recommendations for policy design and intervention.