Digital inclusion: is everyone on board?


Our world is in the midst of a process of rapid digitisation. More and more services are (only) available online, from buying a train ticket to filing your taxes. Handy, but not for everyone. That’s why we all need to be aware of who isn’t on board the digital high-speed train (yet) and aim for digital inclusion.

Questions about digital inclusion? Contact our experts Alenka Le Compte and Davy Nijs.

What is digital exclusion?

Not everyone is on board with digitisation. When someone is at risk of being excluded due to lack of digital access or competences, we call this digital exclusion. 

  • What’s the difference between ‘digital exclusion’ and the ‘digital gap’?

The ‘digital gap’ idea considers digital exclusion as a chasm between people who do and do not have access to digital media and the internet. However, that idea is outdated. Today, we know that digital exclusion is about more than simply a lack of access: factors like competence level, motivation, available support, and a person’s personal network play a significant role in digital inequality.

  • Who is vulnerable to digital exclusion?

A number of factors contribute to whether someone is digitally excluded. Some parts of the population are more at risk than others.

Who is vulnerable to digital exclusion?

  • Can anyone become digitally excluded?

Yes, anyone is susceptible to digital exclusion. Although socially vulnerable groups are more at risk, there are also highly educated people and young people who are digitally behind. Socially advantaged groups are not always automatically ‘safe’ from digital exclusion. And vice versa, social exclusion does not automatically lead to digital exclusion.

  • What’s the state of digital (in)equality in Belgium?

Our society is becoming increasingly digitised. This comes with lots of benefits, but not everyone can enjoy these. What is the state of digital (in)equality in Belgium? Which groups in Flanders are most vulnerable and prone to digital exclusion? And what policy plans are in place to change this?

What did the Covid pandemic teach us?

13 March 2020: Covid-19 brings public life to a halt. Virtually all public services are forced to close, everything moves exclusively online from one day to the next. What did that mean for digitally vulnerable people? And how can we do better? Read more

What is digital inclusion?

The term ‘digital inclusion’ or ‘e-inclusion’ refers to actions and solutions that are necessary to avoid digital exclusion, to make sure everyone can fully participate in our digital society. On the one hand this entails removing ICT-related hurdles, like digital competences or access to devices and the internet. On the other hand, people need support and opportunities to find their own way in the digital world, for example by developing user-friendly websites and apps.

What is digital inclusion?

  • Why is digital inclusion important?

Digital exclusion can have certain consequences. For example, it often goes hand in hand with social exclusion. That’s why it’s best to keep a close eye on the state of digital inclusion.

Why digital inclusion is important

  • Which competences are needed to be digitally ‘on board’?

Digital inclusion and media literacy go hand in hand. This means that you need to be able to use and understand media to be digitally competent. For example, someone might be able to create a profile on social media, but that doesn’t mean they understand how their data is stored and used for other purposes.

  • How can we work on digital inclusion?

Digital exclusion is about more than just the digital gap, and therefore about more than just a lack of access. Only working on access is therefore insufficient if digital inclusion is the goal. We distinguish four prerequisites for digital inclusion that warrant attention:

  • Access
  • Skills
  • A support network
  • Inclusion by design

Digital inclusion in your organisation

There are many ways to work on digital inclusion in your own organisation, city, or community. Whether you just need a few simple tips or want support for creating a complete e-inclusion policy: we’re happy to guide you on your way.

"There is a general movement towards digitising everything, which is not easy for everyone. Reading and writing usually aren’t the issue, but understanding and applying information often are."
Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash
Ligo Ghent

Digital exclusion


of Belgians

do not have an internet connection at home.


of Belgians with a limited income


never use the internet.


of singles

have weak digital competences.


of the Belgian population

is digitally vulnerable.


of Flemish children of primary school age

do not have a laptop, tablet or desktop computer at home.


of children in secondary school

have never used a laptop, tablet or desktop.

Interesting research

Every year, the Digimeter reports on trends around the ownership and usage of media and technology in Flanders.

What can we learn from data about digital inequality in 2022?

Discover the state of digital vulnerability in children between 6 and 18 years old.

3x inspiration from abroad

Learn My Way

A British website with free courses focused on digital skills.


A Dutch society where senior citizens can get explanation, courses, and personal help.

Connecting Scotland

A Scottish government initiative to get every citizen online.