Accessible Technology in Computing—Examining Awareness, Use, and Future Potential

Overview

In 2003, Microsoft Corporation commissioned Forrester Research, Inc., to conduct a comprehensive, two-part study (Phase I and Phase II) to measure the current and potential market of accessible technology in the United States and understand how accessible technology is being used today.

Phase II examined the use of computers and accessible technology among those who were identified in Phase I as being likely or very likely to benefit from accessible technology. It involved a follow-up survey with computer users who currently use accessible technology and with computer users who were identified in Phase I as being likely or very likely to benefit from the use of accessible technology due to experiencing mild or severe visual, dexterity, hearing, cognitive, and speech difficulties and impairments. The survey was conducted by phone and mail in fall 2003 and was completed by 3,428 computer users. It included in-depth questions about the use of computers and the awareness and use of accessible technology.

This report presents findings about the use of computers among individuals with difficulties/impairments. It also discusses factors that influence the use of computers and accessible technology and includes data about the current awareness and use of accessible technology. This report concludes with a forecast of growth in the demand for accessible technology and an overview of the opportunities for the IT industry to make accessible technology easier to discover and use.

This report includes:

  • Background
    • Identifying Who is Likely and Very Likely to Benefit from the Use of Accessible Technology
    • Majority of Computer Users Likely to Benefit from the Use of Accessible Technology
  • Findings About the Use of Computers
    • Computer Use Rates Lower Across All Types of Mild and Severe Difficulties/Impairments
    • Computer Use Rates Lowest Among Individuals with Multiple or Severe Difficulties/Impairments
    • Computer Use Rates at Work, Home, and School Lower Among Individuals with Difficulties/Impairments
  • Factors that Influence the Use of Computers
    • Education and Household Income Influence the Use of Computers
    • Age Influences the Use of Computers
  • Findings About the Awareness and Use of Accessible Technology
    • Widespread Awareness and Modest Use of Accessible Technology
    • Accessibility Options and Utilities Awareness and Use
    • Assistive Technology Product Awareness and Use
    • Why Individuals Use Accessible Technology
  • Factors that Influence the Use of Accessible Technology
    • Computer Experience Influences the Use of Accessible Technology
    • Computer Confidence Influences the Use of Accessible Technology
    • Computer Experience and Confidence Are Independent Factors that Influence the Use of Accessible Technology
    • How Individuals Learn About Accessible Technology
    • Purchase Considerations and Process When Selecting Assistive Technology Products
  • Opportunities and Forecast
    • Growth in the Accessible Technology Market
    • Expanding the Use Among Current Users of Accessible Technology
    • Expanding the Use of Accessible Technology to a Wider Audience of Computer Users
    • Increasing Number of Computer Users Likely to Benefit from the Use of Accessible Technology
    • Conclusion
  • Appendix
    • Appendix A: Accessible Technology Studied
    • Appendix B: Methodology
    • Appendix C: Defining Who Is Likely to Benefit from the Use of Accessible Technology
    • Appendix D: Accessible Technology Awareness and Use Amongst All Computer Users
    • Appendix E: About Forrester Research, Inc.

(A Research Report Commissioned by Microsoft Corporation and Conducted by Forrester Research, Inc., in 2004)

Key Findings

57% of computer users are likely or very likely to benefit from the use of accessible technology.

44% of computer users use some form of accessible technology.

Users seek solutions to make their computers easier to use, not for solutions based on their health or disability.

Making accessibility options easier to discover and use will result in computers that are easier, more convenient, and more comfortable for computer users.