creating communities online

What did we do before the internet?

The internet has replaced looking up a number in the phone book, queuing in line at the bank, waiting on hold, doing your research at the library.

For people living with disability, the internet has made huge changes. In the last 15 years, accessing information has been revolutionised – and as a result, those with limited mobility, hearing loss, vision impairment or the need for plain English websites can access information in more ways than ever before.

Here at projectABLE we’ve been keeping a close eye on the online community and disability – how inclusive the web is, how accessible it is, and in the best cases, how empowering it can be.

Bloggers have in recent years kind of become the new rock stars, and where rock stars with disability on stage have been somewhat lacking, they now make up for in waves online.

Some blogs, advocacy groups and communities we’ve come to love at projectABLE:

  • Stella Young on The Drum – Stella Young, a Melbourne based activist, is a blogger, comedian, activist in disability and editor of ABC’s online disability publication Ramp Up.
  • Ramp Up is produced by the ABC and is an opinion and news column for and about communities living with disability
  • Youth Disability Advocacy Service  – Established in 2006 and funded by the State Government, YDAS is the only disability advocacy service in Australia (and possibly the world) which exists specifically to represent and work on issues of concern to specifically young people with disabilities.
  • Disability Scoop is a US based online magazine covering a range of topics for and about people with disability
  • Enable is a UK based online publication covering many aspects of life when living with disability – travel, employment, the arts and more.

Have you found other similar online communities? Share with us your experience. We also regularly post interesting finds regarding disability on our Twitter and Facebook.

how can the web be made accessible?

Online communities allow us to publish our own thoughts and ideas as well as connecting with people near and far. People with disability have taken to social media networks and are making a big impact.

The internet, more than other types of media, is all about choice – what you search for and what you view is of your own choosing, so it’s important for people with disability that websites are accessible.

To make a website accessible, there may be options to change the way it looks, which may be increasing font size or adjusting colours for those with vision impairment, creating plain English options for those with an intellectual disability or making website functions, such as links, accessible by keyboard, for those with physical disability. A new program called Access iQ has just been launched, offering resources and guidelines to creating and promoting the need for accessible websites.

If you’ve been to one of our workshops or even participated in our Certificate Training Program, you would have heard about our online challenge, Is your community accessible? We want you to think about how communities, whether they are online or otherwise, are accessible or inaccessible to people with disability.

You can find about more about access and inclusion on our page of suggestions, Is your community accessible?

You can post what you’ve found (as well as photos and video) through our Share your experience form. To get you started, here are some great examples of how the internet can be made accessible: