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Disability Discourses for Online Identities

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Beneficial effects of the online medium have been reported for disabled people in terms of providing a 'levelling ground' where they can be treated on their merits as a person, rather than as a disabled person. If this occurs because impairment is invisible online, how then are disabled people managing disability disclosure within this social context? This paper addresses this issue discursively. Participants were recruited from various disability organisations in New Zealand and were invited to take part in an online interview. A 'choice to disclose' repertoire was identified and was organised around three key resources: relevance, anonymity and normality. Embedded within each resource is the idea that the presence or absence of impairment is constructed as a feature controlled by the individual. Positioning identity within a subjectivity removed from impairment was made possible through these resources and was valued by participants. Political implications associated with the absence of impairment are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2002

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