Wireless Technology Use by People with Disabilities: A National Survey

Date of Publication: 
2016 December
Access to and use of mobile wireless consumer technology (i.e., mobile devices like cellphones and tablets, software and services) has become critical to social and economic participation, especially for people with disabilities who already face additional barriers. This article presents data from the Survey of User Needs (SUN) conducted by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC) from June 21, 2015 through April 14, 2016. The SUN focuses on patterns of use, preferences and unmet needs for wireless technology among people with disabilities. Data are presented on the overall adoption rates, preferred platforms (cellphone, smartphone, and tablet), wireline (landline) use, and wireless use by disability type. Comparative analysis of adoption rates between people with disabilities and the general population is presented. Additionally, data from the 2012-2013 SUN are presented for comparison with the 2015-2016 data. The potential impact of demographic variables (age, income and education) and type of disability on wireless technology use is also analyzed. Response data show that people with disabilities own and use wireless technology at rates similar to the general population, but substantial variation exists in ownership of various types of wireless devices depending on disability type and other demographic variables.


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5025-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.