1st Edition

Disability Rights Advocacy Online Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity

By Filippo Trevisan Copyright 2017
    268 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    268 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Disability rights advocates in the United Kingdom and the United States recently embraced new media technologies in unexpected and innovative ways. This book sheds light on this process of renewal and asks whether the digitalisation of disability rights advocacy can help re-configure political participation into a more inclusive experience for disabled Internet users, enhancing their stakes in democratic citizenship. Through the examination of social media content, Web link analysis, and interviews with leading figures in grassroots groups on both sides of the Atlantic, Filippo Trevisan reveals the profound impact that the Internet has had on disability advocacy in the wake of the austerity agenda that followed the 2008 global financial crisis. In Britain, a new, tech-savvy generation of young disabled self-advocates has emerged from this process. The role of social media platforms such as Facebook in helping politically inexperienced users make sense of complex policy changes through the use of personal stories is discussed also. In addition, this book explains why British disability advocates adopted more innovative and participatory strategies compared to their American counterparts when faced with similar policy crises. This book reviews the implications of this unexpected digital transformation for the structure of the disability rights movement, its leadership, and the opportunity for disabled citizens to participate fully in democratic politics vis-à-vis persisting Web access and accessibility barriers. An original perspective on the relationship between disability and the Internet, and an indispensable read for scholars wishing to contextualize and enrich their knowledge on digital disability rights campaigns vis-à-vis the broader ecology of policymaking.

    Chapter 1 – Disabled People, Citizenship and New Media

    Chapter 2 – Online Mobilisation in Times of Crisis

    Chapter 3 – Keep Calm and Tweet On: British Disability Advocacy Goes Digital

    Chapter 4 – Policy Issues and Storytelling on Facebook

    Chapter 5 – Communication Flows, Leadership and The Emergence of "Peer-Mediated" Citizenship

    Chapter 6 – One Size Fits All? British Innovators and American "Conservatives"

    Chapter 7 – New Directions in Disability Rights Advocacy


    Filippo Trevisan is Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, DC, where is also Deputy Director of the Institute on Disability and Public Policy. His research interests include new media technologies, political participation, grassroots advocacy, disability and inequality.

    "Disability concerns us all – and this nuanced, rigorous, timely account charts for the first time the politics of disability advocacy and new media. Essential reading."Gerard Goggin, University of Sydney, Australia

    "Trevisan has produced a persuasive, empirically-rich study that makes an important contribution to how we understand the contemporary disability rights movement, not just in the UK, but around the world.  This study illuminates the role of social media in formulating and advancing a rights-based policy agenda, and how the Internet can be used to combat the stigma sometimes still surrounding persons with disabilities. The result is a fascinating read for disability experts, but also more broadly for scholars of progressive political movements."Derrick L. Cogburn, School of International Service, American University, USA

    "Filippo Trevisan’s Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global connectivity (2017) is an especially timely study … It addresses gaps in disability Internet studies that tend to focus on barriers to access rather than the Internet use of the majority of disabled people who regularly go online. Case studies show how different e-advocacy strategies support different levels of inclusion. And the book’s detailed analyses offer a wealth of future directions for scholars and advocates. Given the urgency of crises faced by people with disabilities and others around the world, Trevisan’s nuanced account is essential reading for anyone interested in online mobilization for progressive social change."Jessica M. F. Hughes, Information, Communication & Society

    "Disability Rights Advocacy Online is a book by Filippo Trevisan that has been badly missing from disability studies. […]Trevisan’s excellent book will inspire researchers to build on the best traditions of disability studies and do more work in this multidisciplinary, fertile area for inquiries."Gabor Petri, Disability & Society