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Communication Research and Practice


Edited By Adrienne Shaw and D. Travers Scott

This volume brings together a range of papers that fruitfully engage with the theme of the 2017 Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, held in San Diego, California: Interventions. Here "intervention" points to a range of communication practices that engage with a political event, social phenomena, industrial or socio-cultural practice, in order to alter and disrupt events and the norms and practices that contribute to their occurrence.  Interventions prohibit events from proceeding in a "normal" course. Interventions approach or critique practices and phenomenon resulting from tensions or absences occurring in: events, structures, (institutional governmental, media industry), discourses, and socio-cultural and subcultural events. Intervention presents the opportunity to explore boundaries, assumptions and strategies that appear to be different or irreconcilable, viewing them instead as possibilities for productive engagements. Communication interventions—in both research and practice—insert insights from diverse voices, marginal positions, emerging organizational practices and digital technologies, to broaden and enrich dialogue. Interventions bring complex reframings to events and phenomenon. Interventions seek to alter a course and effect changed practices in a range of spheres: governmental and social institutions, cultural and nongovernmental groups; industry and organizational life, new media and digital spaces, socio-cultural environments, subcultural groups, health environments, affective and behavioral life, and in everyday life.

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9. Exploring the Disability Digital Divide: Research That Impacts Interventions Through Policy and Practice (Susan B. Kretchmer / Tomasz Drabowicz)


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9. Exploring the Disability Digital Divide: Research That Impacts Interventions Through Policy and Practice


One of the most fundamental and significant worldwide challenges for interventions in the digital age is the digital divide. For twenty-four years since the recognition of the digital divide through social scientific research, large percentages of the populations of countries around the world have been persistently disconnected from the most vital technological advancement in communication in a generation and the myriad benefits and possibilities it facilitates, thus setting the life paths of those excluded on a course divergent from the trajectory of mainstream civilization.

At the same time, one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, are disabled and those with disabilities, “on average as a group, are more likely to experience adverse socioeconomic outcomes than persons without disabilities, such as less education, poorer health outcomes, lower levels of employment, and higher poverty rates” (World Bank, 2017). In addition, in the United States, the highest percentages of people with disabilities reside in Southeastern states (e.g., Alabama and Mississippi); non-Hispanic black and Hispanic adults are more likely to have a disability than white non-Hispanic adults; and disability is more common among women than men (CDC, 2015).

In terms of Internet (non-)use by various demographic groups, the disability digital divide in the United States is one of the largest and the most intractable. In 2015,...

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