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Keywords:

  • learning difficulties;
  • Internet;
  • computer;
  • interaction;
  • observation;
  • interviews;
  • tests

Use of the Internet and other forms of information and communications technology (ICT) by people with learning difficulties has not been extensively researched. This article by Peter Williams of the Rix Centre at the University of East London reports some of the findings from ‘Project @pple’, a major ESRC-funded programme exploring the ways in which people with learning difficulties access and use information and communication technologies. Using observations, interviews and formal usability tests, project researchers built up a multi-layered view of computer use, Internet access and interaction with software among people with learning difficulties. A number of key themes emerged, including the nature of the tasks encountered, engagement, relevance to needs and the role of supporters. Peter Williams summarises these issues and indicates avenues for the future development of targeted products and for further research.