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#2 ‘Identity and Disability’ by Nick Watson

04/04/2011

The second post in my solo April blog festival.

WATSON, N. (2002) Well, I know this is going to sound very strange to you, but I don’t see myself as a disabled person: identity and disability. Disability & Society, 17, 5, 18.

Disability and Society

Disability and Society

In March 2011 Aleks Krotoski, UK technology journalist and researcher wrote a piece about Disability and the Internet for the Observer. Although I recognised many of her arguments and observations, I disagreed with several key aspects of her analysis. In particular, her assertion that disabled people ‘pass’ as non-disabled online. Hers is a very blunt statement – and it is this concern, that disabled people who do not present themselves (or see themselves) as disabled online might in some way be complicit in maintaining, rather than challenging a disabling status quo that Watson’s research tears into.

Here Watson challenges a ‘passing’ interpretation of the actions of disabled people – presenting disabled people’s own accounts and identifying in the process an opposite interpretation, a political assertion of disability as normal. Watson’s research gives important nuance to this crucial area. For anyone writing, designing or researching disability and technology – this paper makes essential reading.

Note: My PhD explores this territory with respect to Social Networks. For an additional alternative reponse to Kotoski’s article, see how Ouch’s Disability Bitch goes into CyberSpasm

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