Peer to Peer Accessibility in Social Networks

Over the course of the Christmas break the schedule for the CSUN conference was released. I will be contributing to three sessions (a discussion panel and two papers) all now highlighted on my diary page and available on the conference web pages. It looks like Abstracts will not be available until the event itself. As a result, I will publish mine here for preview and comment. Hopefully they will be of interest to general accessibility/social media readers as well as delegates. First up: Peer-to-Peer Accessibility in Social Networks, a paper exploring how web accessibility can be socially mediated by peers within social networks, using evidence from research with disabled students at UK Universities. The introduction is reproduced below, with a PDF of the full document (approximately 1,500 words) available below, both for download and embedded in Google’s PDF viewer. If you would like to read the paper in a different format, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Peer to Peer accessibility in social networks. 

This paper considers the influence of peers on disabled user’s experiences of accessibility in the social network Facebook. It highlights the positive role that friends can play in mitigating inaccessible systems. It also highlights the importance of social dynamics for acquiring access to digital domains. This contrary observation –  that disabled users with greater social resources will be better able to access and develop online social networks – suggests a digital divide that is, as yet, under researched. The paper uses findings from doctoral case study research with disabled students at UK universities to identify social aspects of accessibility and how these manifest in disabled students’ experience.

‘Peer-To-Peer Accessibility’ PDF


  1. Susannah Fox

    Thanks very much for highlighting this paper on Twitter. I’m always on the look out for comparison studies, as well as researchers who are diving more deeply into a topic than I can — your paper fits both descriptions.

    Here’s what I can offer:

    A Pew Internet report based on a September 2010 national telephone survey in the U.S. which measured how many American adults live with a disability (using our federal government’s survey questions to define the groups) and how many use the internet

    A commentary and discussion I wrote after the report was released

    In addition, our research consistently finds that half of health searches are conducted on behalf of someone else, not the person typing on the keys

    And indeed caregivers are a significant source of “second-degree internet access” for those who do not have access. Scroll down to the second table on this page:

    I hope this data is useful to you. Please let me know if you have questions about it.

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