Social media is popularly seen as an important media for people with disability in terms of communication, exchange and activism. These sites potentially increase both employment and leisure opportunities for one of the most traditionally isolated groups in society. However, the offline inaccessible environment has, to a certain degree, been replicated online and particularly in social networking sites. Social media is becoming an increasingly important part of our lives yet the impact on people with disabilities has gone largely unscrutinised.
Similarly, while social media and disability are often both observed through a focus on the Western, developed and English-speaking world, different global perspectives are often overlooked. This collection explores the opportunities and challenges social media represents for the social inclusion of people with disabilities from a variety of different global perspectives that include Africa, Arabia and Asia along with European, American and Australasian perspectives and experiences.
Katie Ellis is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Internet Studies and convener of the Critical Disability Studies Research Network at Curtin University. Her research focuses on disability and the media extending across both representation and active possibilities for social inclusion. Her books include Disability and New Media (2011; with Mike Kent), Disabling Diversity (2008), Disability, Ageing and Obesity: Popular Media Identifications (2014; with Debbie Rodan & Pia Lebeck), Disability and the Media (2015; with Gerard Goggin), and Disability and Popular Culture (2015).
Mike Kent is the head of department and a senior lecturer in the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University. His main research interests focus on the two overlapping areas of people with disabilities and their access to communications technology as well as tertiary and online education. He is co-author, with Katie Ellis, of Disability and New Media (Routledge, 2011), and co-editor (with Tama Leaver) of An Education in Facebook? Higher Education and the World's Largest Social Network (Routledge, 2014). His current research includes the forthcoming books Massive Open Online Courses and Higher Education: Where to Next? (Routledge) with Rebecca Bennett and Chinese Social Media Today: Critical Perspectives (Routledge) with Katie Ellis and Jian Xu.