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Media Usage of People with Disabilities

Media Usage of People with Disabilities

People with disabilities each have different impairments and different needs when they use media. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities allocate media a key role in achieving an effective participation within society and a complete inclusion. Up until now, there has been no reliable data collection on how people with disabilities use media. Usually, the barrier-free access to services offered by the media is examined and analysed. The perspective of the user, however, has played a relatively limited role so far. Prof. Dr. Uwe Hasebrink and Dr. Sascha Hölig of the Hans-Bredow-Institut, together with Jun.-Prof. Ingo Bosse of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Science at the TU Dortmund University, are conducting a study on people with disabilities and their use of media. The project is funded by the Medienanstalten (DLM) [Media Authorities] and Aktion Mensch [a privately funded organisation that supports people with disabilities, along with disadvantaged adults, teenagers, and children].

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Project Description

For the first time ever, this study will analyse significant data regarding the media usage behaviour of people with disabilities, the motives and expectations when using media, as well as the barriers they face when accessing and using the media.

The study’s core areas are:

  • Firstly, determining the size and composition of groups that are of interest. Distinctions will be made between four groups which are limited in their use of media due to impairments and other existing restrictions: people with cognitive impairment, hearing impairment, visual impairment, and physical impairment.
  • Secondly, qualitative preliminary assessments will be conducted for each of the four subgroups in order to determine specific media-related needs and obstacles, as well as specific challenges when it comes to accessing the field and the interview technique. In addition to the secondary analysis of available data and studies, interviews will be conducted with researchers, as well as with association representatives and public authorities. Furthermore, group discussions with representatives of the tested subgroups should help determine the quality of access to services such as subtitles.
  • Thirdly, the way in which the aforementioned groups use media in general will be analysed, along with how they use television (i.e. motion pictures). It is necessary to develop specific scientific instruments for each of the subgroups, as preconditions and needs vary considerably.

The study’s research questions will be defined and worked on in close collaboration with experts with disabilities throughout the research process.

Research results and recommendations will help establish prospects for organising concrete steps towards addressing people with disabilities and facilitating their media use.
The data can serve as a basis to further cater to the needs of people with disabilities as they use various forms of media. Thus, the findings will include recommendations for action concerning access to media services.

The results will be presented in autumn 2016.

Project Information


Duration: 2015-2016

Research programme:
RP1 - Transformation of Public Communication

Third party

TU Dortmund (Weiterleitung der Mittel von die medienanstalten und Aktion Mensch)

Cooperation Partner

Prof. Ingo Bosse, Leiter des Fachgebiets Körperliche und Motorische Entwicklung an der Fakultät Rehabilitationswissenschaften der TU Dortmund

Contact person

Dr. Sascha Hölig
Senior Researcher Media Use

Dr. Sascha Hölig

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

Tel. +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 84
Fax +49 (0)40 45 02 17 - 77

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