It’s no secret that the internet has enabled our society to be more plugged in and connected with people than ever before. We know what our friends, family, and significant others are doing at all times, and we can easily reach them a number of ways should we need to: Facebook, text messages, Twitter, e-mail, phone calls, Snapchat, etc. The possibilities are endless!
This era of growing technology is readily available to almost anyone, anywhere, and the accessibility for using them are growing, as many of today’s devices and platforms have various accessibility features right when they launch. For example, iPhones have VoiceOver and speech options for people with impaired vision. They have hearing aid volume controls and flash features for those who are hearing impaired. And AssistiveTouch if you struggle with touching the screen.
Websites like Facebook have accessibility options as well, which may come as a surprise to people. For example, Facebook supports VoiceOver and screen readers, and they even have a form where you can submit any issue you may be having with an assistive feature / device not working with the site. Facebook also supports closed captioning, keyboard shortcuts, and text enhancers like zoom and bold. Facebook has expanded these options across their site as a whole ranging from your profile page to your news feed and even your messenger app.
As you can see, the internet as a whole is trying to bridge the gap and bring people together like never before. Everyone can feel connected with each other and be able to interact with one another; because of this the internet has created in my opinion, one big support group for people with disabilities. You can connect with people all over the world. There is bound to be someone with your interests, sense of humor, or world views, someone with your diagnosis who goes through the same thing you struggle with every day. The best part of all of this is it doesn’t matter what disability you have or how it affects you, you’re still able to find someone like you who will understand, support you, and be a friend.
The internet is also there in your time of need. Back when I was struggling with severe undiagnosed chronic pain, Cerebral Palsy support groups on Facebook, articles I’d found on various websites, blogs written by parents and fellow Cerebral Palsy people alike were what kept me going. These things supported me and pushed me to keep going back to doctors to find answers, and they provided me with suggestions when the medical team around me didn’t have all or any of the answers I needed. But perhaps most importantly and one of the things I hope the internet is most noted for moving forward in the future is that the internet let me know I was not alone.
I know that subjects like this seldom make the news, the news would rather focus on cyber bullying or cyber stalking, hacking, catfishing, etc. But actually the internet is beautiful and a way to feel validated as a person with a disability. We know that when we sign on we can be ourselves, we can talk about our struggles and our pain with people who understand. It is a place where we won’t feel judged for talking about how hard it is sometimes. The internet in my opinion has set people with disabilities free, by connecting us with each other.
What has the internet done for you?