The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Power, Power: The Internet and Government Disability Policy in the United Kingdom

Paper presenter: 
Power, D., School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland; Power, M., Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bond University, Queensland

People with disabilities represent a significant but often overlooked proportion of the British population (10 million people, 18%). They are publicly represented by organisations consisting of and managed by people with disabilities themselves (e.g., British Deaf Association) and organisations for their benefit, often managed or advised by people from the “helping professions” (e.g., Royal National Institute for the Deaf). Many community organisations attempt to influence government policy by both direct lobbying with government and its agencies. They use the media to gain awareness and support.

This paper investigates how a sample of key disability organisations use the Internet to inform their members, publicise their activities, describe the need for policy changes or new initiatives and encourage political action to redress what they see as inequalities. This paper examines the policy campaigning of major organisations representative of a range of types of disabilities as found on their websites and asks whether these campaigns influence government policy by examining a number of both central and local government initiatives to see the extent to which they reflect the campaigns of the organisations. The paper finds that disability organizations use websites to put their messages about disability issues and to put the views and standpoints of disabled people in the public domain and that in an election year they give clear instructions to disabled people on how to increase the power of their vote by actively participating in activities through which political parties will understand their views.

Des Power, Mary Power