People with disability and new disaster communications: access and the social media mash-up
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This article explores how a lack of access to increasingly complex and overlapping digital communications platforms in times of disaster for people with disabilities has the potential to make already life-threatening situations considerably more dangerous. As we are increasingly coming to rely on a social media mash-up of digital platforms to assist in communications during disaster situations, the issue of accessibility for people with disabilities is as dire as if it was high ground during a tsunami or transport during a typhoon. The contemporary social media environment is characterised by a complex and overlapping network of complementary platforms, populated by user-generated content, where people communicate and exchange ideas. In this environment, YouTube videos are posted to Facebook and embedded in blogs, and Twitter is used to link to these other sites and is itself embedded in other platforms. These networks are increasingly supplementing and supplanting more traditional communication platforms, such as the television and radio, particularly in times of disaster. The concern of this paper is that the elements from which this mash-up of communications channels is made are not always accessible to people with disabilities. This evolving network of social media-based communication exposes the limits of existing Internet-based universal design.
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