Digitalization and participation. Possibilities and barriers to elderly people and people with intellectual disabilities

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Purpose: The purpose of the presentation is to debate which possibilities and barriers to participation the increasing digitalization and use of technologies leads to – compared to two different target groups namely elderly people living in sheltered housing and young adult with intellectual disabilities living in group homes. The presentation first includes a short introduction to two different research studies; a project of new elderly housing to overcome loneliness and insecurity and the study Participation in everyday life among young adults with intellectual disabilities. Secondly based on examples from the two projects, the aim of the presentation is to illuminate how the digitalization both creates possibilities and barriers to participation and discus how social pedagogues can play an important role as facilitators for the service users in a societal participatorical way.
Background: In Denmark most contact between the welfare system and the citizens in the recent years has been digitalized. Also, a lot of other everyday routines as checking the bank account, withdraw money from the bank, paying bills and so on has been digitalized and must been performed with different types of technologies as smart phones and computers. On one side this leads to a situation where different groups in the Danish society are marginalized as digital illiterates (Helholt & Papazu 2021, Pors & Rasmussen 2021). Elderly people or people with intellectual disabilities as before independently was doing such everyday routines are now dependent on other people professionals or relatives to carry out such tasks because the use of the technologies requires specific cognitive capabilities. On the other side different kinds of technologies leads to new possibilities for social participation for people with intellectual disabilities and elderly people. For instance maintaining contact between friends who live in different areas and so on. The technologies can also contribute to new possibilities in terms of communication and visualization. The CRPD concludes that full and effective participation and inclusion in society is a right to people with disabilities. But despite of this participation and inclusion is being challenged by the increasing digital claims. The question is which role the socialpedagogical professionals can play in this development in supporting people with disabilities and elderly people to give them more social opportunities and to minimize the tendency to digital marginalization? We will discuss possibilities and obstacles for including these two social groups as active users of digital technology in a socialpedagogical perspective on the basis of the risks of replacing interpersonal relations with digital tools.

Hjelholt, M., & Papazu, I. (2021). "De har fået NemID, men det er ikke nemt for mig” - Digital rum(me)lighed i den danske velfærdsstat. Social Kritik:Tidsskrift for social analyse & debat, 2021-2(163).
Schou, J., & Hjelholt, M. (2018). Digitalization and Public Sector Transformations. Palgrave Macmillan.
Pors, A. S., & Rasmussen, N. (2021). Digitale ældres blik på offentlig digitalisering: omstillingen til en digitaliseret relation mellem borger og myndighed. Københavns Professionshøjskole.
Ågren, Kristin Alfredsson (2020): Internet use and digital participation in everyday life. Linköping University
Translated title of the contributionDigitalisering og deltagelse. Muligheder og barrierer for ældre og menneske med udviklingshandicap
Original languageEnglish
Publication date16 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2023
EventNERA 2023: Digitalization and Technologies in Education – Opportunities and Challenges - Oslo, Norway
Duration: 15 Mar 202317 Mar 2023


ConferenceNERA 2023
Internet address


  • social work and social conditions


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