Social network sites as tools of social inclusion for people with disability

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Lucia Ferlino
Stefania Manca


Despite the growing popularity of social network sites (SNS) among several sectors of the population, few studies have investigated the potential that these digital environments offer as tools of social inclusion for disabled people. This study presents the results of an online survey administered to people with disability in Italy in order to establish what SNS they mainly use and for what purposes, and to investigate the accessibility issues users experience. We collected 144 complete responses and primarily used descriptive statistics to illustrate the characteristics, self-reported behaviours, and experiences of use. The results reveal that the respondents mostly use Facebook, that they engage more with their nondisabled friends than with disabled ones, and that they mainly perceive SNS as an opportunity to find old friends and as a means for keeping updated about news and events related to their disability. Lastly, the most commonly reported problems in accessing and using SNS content are general problems of accessibility and Internet access. The limitations of the study are provided, along with indications for further research.

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