Users with Disabilities' Social and Economic Development Through Online Acess

N. Bowker and K. Tuffin (New Zealand)


Sharing information and knowledge for individuals with disabilities, qualitative research, identity, social development, discursive psychology.


This paper presents another research approach for accessing users with disabilities’ (UWD) online experience. A discursive analysis of UWD’s computer mediated communication is offered. The study was conducted in New Zealand where 21 people with physical and sensory disabilities volunteered to be interviewed online. Findings demonstrate the online medium’s elimination of physical and attitudinal barriers caused by exposure of a disabled identity, which previously hindered UWD’ ability to display their capabilities. Being judged independently of a disabled identity affords UWD the opportunity to exhibit their value. Social benefits of operating online may lead to improved psychological health; economic advantages may cover financial gain, increased productivity, agency over financial resources and decision-making, as well as contributing greater equity to relationships. Considerations are offered for researchers and developers creating multi-media enhancements.

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