The visual anonymity associated with online interaction offers people with disabilities the potential to participate in social interaction beyond the stigma of a disabled identity. In problematizing traditional notions of reality, however, the online medium also has the potential to become a deceptive social space where people with disabilities become victims of malevolent acts. Considering the dilemma surrounding the choice to participate, this study investigates how people with disabilities are managing issues of deception and harm in online contexts. A discursive psychology framework is utilized. The research was conducted in New Zealand where 21 participants with physical and sensory disabilities volunteered to participate in an online interview. Two different repertoires enabled people with disabilities to manage the dilemma of engaging in a medium where there is potential for benefit and harm. A keeping safe repertoire deployed three safety strategies to protect participants from deceptive acts. Data from several participants was also categorized under a qualified deception repertoire. This allowed participants to access new subjective experiences outside of a disabled identity and to extend their online engagement beyond keeping safe. Both repertoires maintained participants' integrity as online users.
Bowker, N., & Tuffin, K. (2003). Dicing with deception: People with disabilities' strategies for maintaining safety and identity online. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 8(2). Retrieved August 20, 2008, from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol8/issue2/bowker.html