Covid presented people with disability many problems and among them was the lack of accessible information. And just how digital services can be made more accessible and inclusive will be investigated by a Curtin University research project.

Curtin Centre for Culture and Technology director, Professor Katy Ellis said Covid highlighted many shortcomings in how digital platforms catered to people with disability.

“During the initial stages of the pandemic there was no substantial effort to consult with people with disability or their representative organisations about their communication,” she said. “This delayed the development of disability-specific policy and the dissemination of clear, consistent, and accessible information about the pandemic across relevant platforms.”

As a result, people with disability experienced increased risk of contracting the disease, severe disease or death, and new or worsening health conditions.

In collaboration with the Centre for Inclusive Design, the research project aimed to improve the lives of the 20 per cent of Australians who identify as having a disability and meet Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-31 priorities.

“Digitisation can be immensely beneficial, but it can also perpetuate the exclusions these people experience within society, because we still do not fully understand their broad and individual needs,” Ellis said.

The research team will work with people with disability to provide evidence-based recommendations to government, industry and community groups who create digital platforms to address these challenges.