Excluded by not being 'online'

Wed, Feb 29, 2012, 00:00

Sir, – Dr Brenda O’Hanrahan (February 20th) is correct. There are serious issues about digital exclusion in this country that need to be addressed. Research literature generally indicates that factors such as disability, age, and social disadvantage (itself a function of educational attainment) all have a significant role to play in preventing access to online goods and services.

The extent of the Irish problem is understated and rarely surfaces. Perhaps the Government can provide some insight into the EU Digital Agenda 2011 Scorecard that reveals Irish citizens’ below average take-up of eGovernment services compared with our EU partners? The solution is to make digital education available in the community, rigorous user requirements gathering by online providers, and provision of enabling technology and support to those who need it.

There must also be provision of equivalence of access to electronic goods and services. Before someone suggests that the way to increase online uptake is to turn off all other alternatives (there are many bright sparks in the smart economy), they might consider this is not only wrong on inclusion grounds, but also probably illegal.

Of course, the Government may find some succour in Ireland being above EU average when it comes to businesses using eGovernment services. How skewed these figures are by the use of two sites alone – ROS.ieand CRO.ie– is open to further research, but of little consequence to someone trying to find a job online or use a website to book an airline ticket out of the country. – Yours, etc,


(Digital Inclusion Researcher, TCD),

South Circular Road, Dublin 8.