Internet inclusivity of young people with a disability: Their own stories

Author: Arifa Rahman

Rahman, Arifa, 2018 Internet inclusivity of young people with a disability: Their own stories, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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Nowadays, the inclusivity of young people with a disability is a contemporary and constant concern for many people worldwide. Inclusivity is widely recommended for helping to empower people with disability in society. In inclusive settings, people with disabilities feel included and supported. Inclusion is important in education sectors; however, every aspect of the learning process needs to be considered. This includes inclusivity in the digital world as well. People with a disability, and their inclusivity in the digital world through the Internet, however, is not well understood. Internet inclusiveness is not commonly considered in studies, even though Internet activities play a vital role in our current lifestyles. This lack of investigation reveals a gap in the literature on inclusiveness. Consequently, this study aimed to explore the presence and voice of young people with a disability on the Internet, especially on Google Australia. The Google search engine was used to search for stories written by young people with a disability. The study was a mixed methods study using grounded theory analysis. The study adopted a constructivist epistemology as the underlying philosophical assumption. Internet-based self-reported stories of people with a disability, which were shared by the authors, were the source of the data. The data were collected during the month of December 2017 to address whether young people with a disability have a presence and a direct voice on the Internet. The stories of these young people with a disability were selected through selection criteria following a systematic procedure and were thematically analyzed. There were several key findings in this study. Firstly, the presence of young Australians with a disability on the Internet was very low and comprised 12% of the total sampled websites. Moreover, the number of self-reported stories, on the Internet, of young Australians with a disability was also low, which indicated only a small percentage (3%) of direct voices. The current practices involving the direct voice of young Australian people with a disability on a website was formed or influenced by the individual organization in 62% of cases. Furthermore, 82% of private organization websites incorporated the presence and voices of people with a disability in various topics. Most of the website authors preferred that their gender, ages and backgrounds were not disclosed. In addition, there were a variety of topics presented in the information and narratives shared by people with a disability. Such as employment, independent living or living in a nursing home, disability services, self-advocacy, relationship and reproductive health. Moreover, only 6 out of 27 websites had relevant stories that revealed significant information about people with a disability and their life. Finally, people with a disability highlighted the importance of leading a life similar to that lived by people without a disability. There was a sense of being empowered in sharing their stories. This study highlights directions for future research including recommendations for practices for better inclusion, such as, inclusion in the digital world, studies on being normal for people with a disability, and advocating for direct voice of people with a disability on the Internet.

Keywords: Internet inclusivity, Young People with a disability online, Young People with Disabilities

Subject: Special Education thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2018
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Grace Skrzypiec