At the online debate held as part of Media Literacy Days, civic organizations working at the local level debated about the factors that prevent the inclusion of citizens with various forms of disabilities in the public sphere. The impetus for the debate was found in the latest research conducted by civil organizations from the Eastern and Southeastern regions, in cooperation with the RESIS Institute.

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One of the main conclusions from the debate was that sensory impairment in combination with age is a strong reason for the digital exclusion of a large number of citizens, and this in turn has a negative impact on their right and the possibility to participate in the public sphere and to influence the political processes taking place. at the local and national level.

In the survey that was conducted with 451 respondents from two regions, the digital inclusion of a vulnerable group of citizens was measured through several indicators, of which the following stand out: the ability to use the Internet independently, the ability to use smart technologies, access to assistive technology and adaptation to media contents and web pages so that people with sensory disabilities can use them.

The results of the survey showed that sensory impairment, especially visual impairment, is the biggest obstacle to using the Internet: the smallest percentage of respondents who independently access the Internet are visually impaired (31.5%), and these are also the citizens who most often need it help (20.2%) when using the Internet. Hearing impairment is to a lesser extent an obstacle to using the Internet: 56.1% of respondents with impaired hearing stated that they can use the Internet independently, and only 6.1% need help from another person.

77.5% of people with impaired vision lack computer skills, followed by people who live with some kind of hearing impairment (56.1%). The skills to use a smartphone are once again lacking the most for people with impaired vision (58.4%), and somewhat less for people with impaired hearing (47.5%). Of course, an additional reason for the lack of knowledge and skills for using technology is the age of this category of respondents.

Access to assistive technology for the use of modern communication devices is also an obstacle for this group of citizens: 51.2% of people with impaired hearing and 46.7% of people with impaired vision stated that they do not have access to assistive technology. Of those respondents who use the Internet, a large percentage stated that the websites are not adapted for people with sensory disabilities: 62.2% for people with impaired hearing and 51.7% for people with impaired vision.

Respondents with sensory impairments in the survey are more clear about whether they have difficulty watching television (without subtitles or audio description): 51.2% of respondents with hearing impairment said that it is difficult for them to watch television without subtitles on the content, and 46. 7% of respondents with impaired vision say that they cannot follow certain content because they do not have additional audio description of the event.

The representatives of civil organizations discussed the positive experience gained from working on the online platform LokalAktiv and emphasized the importance of online community media for informing citizens and their inclusion in local pluralistic democracy.

The survey was conducted by the RESIS Institute and 13 civil organizations from the Eastern and Southeastern regions that are members of the online platform LokalAktiv, which was formed with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy from the USA (NED) as part of the project "Encouraging civic engagement in local government".

You can watch the video of the debate here.


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