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Media use for all

3 minutes reading time
3-17 years
Copyright: Andi Weiland | Gesellschaftsbilder.de

Whether old, young, physically impaired or highly gifted, media use is an issue for most people. Just because people have an impairment doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy using media. Perhaps you know this about your child and have wondered how to guide his or her media use well and whether there are special media for children with disabilities.

Most Internet services are designed for people who can use a mouse, keyboard or touchscreen well, read, see and hear – yet there are many people who cannot for various reasons! It is important for everyone to be able to use smartphones and the like as they wish and to be able to participate everywhere.

The right to digital participation

When everyone can use media the way they want and are not excluded, we talk about digital participation. This is a fundamental right that is also enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, media offerings must also be designed in such a way that this is possible. Some people find it difficult to understand long texts on websites well. Or someone can’t read them because he or she is blind. As in road traffic, there are also tools for this on the Internet. On some websites you can have texts read aloud or on your computer is a program that can read texts aloud. However, there are still too few tools available, both on the road and on the Internet. Then it is difficult for some people to participate in the digital world (or road traffic). The prerequisite for this is accessibility. In the FINNreporter video , Lilly explains clearly and understandably what this means and how children can use media who cannot see or hear.

Tips for media use without barriers

Even if many Internet offers are not yet designed barrier-free, there are some aids so that children and young people, but also adults with impairments can use them.

  • Devices such as smartphones and tablets often already come with settings that can make them easier to use for people with disabilities. On Apple devices, they are called Operation Aids, and on Samsung/Android devices, there is Simple Mode. For computers, there is often special software that you can buy and install. You can search for suitable apps and programs in the database of the Barrier-free Communication Foundation.
  • YouTube and other platforms where videos are shown can have subtitles enabled. This helps people who cannot hear well or understand written language better. The offers of the media libraries of ARD and ZDF are even often available with audio description. That is, a narrator explains what is on the screen.
  • Some websites offer the possibility to change the language. Sometimes there are also texts in easy or simple language, so that children or people with speech or reading problems can understand them well.
  • LegaKids is a free Internet service for people with LRS (reading and spelling difficulties), dyslexia, reading difficulties and dyscalculia. It offers information, app tips and much more for parents, children and other interested parties.
  • Aktion Mensch has compiled apps on its site einfach-fuer-alle.de that support the participation of all people.
  • The Technical University of Nuremberg has developed the computer game Genesis for people with disabilities.
  • With the Susi program, people with limited cognitive abilities can use computers independently and in a self-determined manner.

You may find a few suggestions that will help you and your child have fun using media safely. Observe your child as he or she interacts with the content. There are children who do not yet understand content well, although they should already be suitable according to the age recommendation. Since every child is different and develops differently, this is not a bad thing. Just see if other offers are more suitable. Read more about this in our article “Age-appropriate media for my child“.

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