The Promise of Technology? Digital Inclusion and Exclusion of Disability in China

15/10/2018 (Thursday) 13:00-14:00 E21-G002

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are increasingly important for people with disabilities (PWDs), suggesting digital inclusion as a possible social mechanism against the social exclusion of disability. This study suggests a more complicated relationship between ICTs and disability. Situated in a Chinese context and based on research methods of ethnographic participant observation and in-depth interviews, this study explains why and how social exclusion of disability in China leads to PWDs’ exodus to the Internet, where they find a possible habitat of digital and social inclusion notwithstanding the risk of more profound social exclusion. The study finally argues that the Internet habitat of PWDs is both a material enclave and a discourse heterotopia for understanding Chinese society, disability and ICTs. In addition, future studies should further include PWDs in this field.