Disability and Discourses of Web Accessibility

David published a paper in the journal, Information Communication and Society, in 2009, entitled, ‘Disability and Discourses of Web Accessibility’.

Abstract: Much of the World Wide Web remains inaccessible or difficult to access by people across a spectrum of disabilities and this may have serious implications for the potential use of the web for increasing social inclusion. We argue that the complexities of web accessibility are best analysed against a set of relevant discourses and that part of the reason for the obduracy of web inaccessibility lies in crucial gaps in engagement of these discourses, so that there is no clear avenue through which disabled people can engage effectively with the web accessibility issue to ensure their rights are met. We characterize the relevant discourses in terms of the digital divide discourse, the social construction of disability discourse, focusing on the historical relationship between disability and technology, the legal discourse where we briefly describe the burdens which disability discrimination demands of those who design websites and the web accessibility discourse, including a discussion of the development of web accessibility standards. We argue that there are crucial gaps in engagement of these discourses, signalling that important groups are not engaged with the dominant policy making agenda. Notably disability activists are not included in the standard making agenda of the web accessibility movement. Unless ways of including such groups can be found, we argue that the current state of web accessibility and hence the potential for social inclusion to be increased is unlikely to be ameliorated.


Adam, A & Kreps, D (2009) ‘Disability and Discourses of Web Accessibility’ Information Communication and Society  Volume 12, Issue 7, pp1041-1058 DOI: 10.1080/13691180802552940

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