“I would be lost without it but it's not the same” experiences of adults with intellectual disabilities of using information & communication technology during the COVID-19 global pandemic

Darren D. Chadwick (Lead / Corresponding author), Susan Buell, Emma Burgess, Vince Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: COVID-19 is a life-threatening virus which has circulated the globe resulting in unprecedented effects on the daily lives of people across the world. Countries across the globe have advocated measures, including self-isolation and maintaining social distance to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic has seen an increase in the use of information and communication technology (ICT) for many aspects of life. This study aimed to find out from people with intellectual disabilities what it was like using ICT during COVID-19 and how this affected their lives.

Method: Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 19 people with learning disabilities throughout the COVID pandemic. The qu/alitative data gathered was analysed using longitudinal thematic framework analysis to identify the main ways technology use had impacted on people's lives and the challenges and facilitators of technology use during this time.

Findings: Technology played an important role in the lives of the people with learning disabilities who took part in the study. Technology facilitated continuation and maintenance of important daily activities and roles in people's lives (e.g., jobs, getting support and leisure), keeping people meaningfully occupied and maintaining social contact which reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation. People adapted and learned new skills, with help from friends, family and support staff, which boosted self-confidence. Despite some identified barriers, prior technology use, tenacity and a positive attitude towards ICT supported learning new skills and adaptation to increased ICT use.

Conclusions: Supporting the development of digital competence, confidence and persistence in people with learning disabilities was important during this international crisis and has had a fundamental positive effect on wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-162
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities
Volume51
Issue number2
Early online date8 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • digital inclusion
  • information & communication technology
  • intellectual disabilities
  • support
  • wellbeing

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