Communication-oriented Internet technologies and activities such as social media sites and blogs, have become an important component of community and employment participation, not just in the specific function of activities, but as a link to larger communities of practice and professional connections. The occurrence of these activities, evident in their presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and other online communities, represents an important opportunity to reframe and re-conceptualize manifestation of communities especially those in which distributed networks and communities substitute for geographic proximity, offering new opportunities for engagement, especially those who might be functionally limited in terms of mobility.
For people with disabilities, as well as the aging, increasingly interacting online, the readiness of social networking sites to accommodate their desire to participate in conjunction with their readiness as users to maximize the potential of platform interfaces and architecture, are critical to achieving the medium’s potential for enhancing community and employment benefits. This essay explores representation/presence of disability and aging using as frames, Facebook and LinkedIn groups. Target identity/member groups on Facebook and LinkedIn were cataloged to explore the presence and representation of disability and aging identities in a socially networked setting.
The groups for this study were identified using the search feature designed into the platform architecture, which allow a user to search on specifically designated entities or keywords. Findings suggest that from a policy perspective, institutions need to be cognizant of population characteristics as well as platform opportunities implementing advocacy and relevant support services for people with disabilities and older adults to full ensure engagement and participation.