For those of us with disabilities, the internet can be a place where we can feel free in a different way than we do in the physical world, without always being judged for our appearances first. Some of us can experience a freedom in not being hindered by physical inaccessibility.
For others of us, an internet that is inaccessible, difficult to understand or use creates even larger separation and exclusion.
Obstacles for participation
Pictures that are not described in text, speech that is not subtitled, or a very small percentage of everything being available in sign language—these are obstacles for participation. If done the right way, we can create possibilities for participation instead.
Studies have been done on internet use for those of us with disabilities, but there is a need for much more research to be done. The problem with reaching people with disabilities who do not use the internet is that there is no comprehensive and accurate picture of the situation.
For example, young people who have attended school for pupils with learning disabilities are farthest from digital participation. This is problematic because much of societal communication happens on the internet, which means that the opportunity to attain information and take part in the democratic society is more difficult.
Disabilities are not one thing
People with disabilities are not a homogenous group. A study by Begripsam shows that people with neuropsychiatric disabilities can much more easily navigate the internet than people with language difficulties. 70% of blind people experience difficulty in navigating the internet, while 40% of people with concentration difficulties experience difficulties with this.
Dyslexia and dyscalculia are often grouped together, even though these difficulties are very different. Knowing about different types of disabilities when developing new platforms is extremely important in order to reach and include everyone.
Everyone deserves to be met with respect based on their own conditions and abilities
Having a disability perspective on cyber hate means understanding intentional and unintentional violations. Curiosity about different disabilities, experiences, and diagnoses can be very positive and means that knowledge is being spread. But well-meaning questions can end up in oppression when the person experiences them as such.
Here are some examples of offensive actions on the internet against people with disabilities that you should avoid:
- When the first thing you do is ask private questions about their body, appearance, what the disability is due to, what the person has been through, what they can and cannot do
- Questioning the person’s disability, their need for assistance or accessibility aids
- Using patronizing or ableist expressions
- Writing offensive comments about the person’s appearance or abilities
All of these actions can lead to people with disabilities not feeling safe being themselves.
Tips on how to avoid violating or cyber hating a person with a disability:
- Support the subjected person’s experiences
- Do not assume anyone’s disability, diagnosis, or what someone can or cannot do.
Tired of no one understanding the problem?
Use our micro activism posters! Send it anonymously, hang it up in the coffee room, or spread it on your social media. Ableism is real!