Communities of participation: A comparison of disability and aging identified groups on Facebook and LinkedIn

Paul M.A. Baker, John C. Bricout, Nathan W. Moon, Barry Coughlan, Jessica Pater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-34
Number of pages13
JournalTelematics and Informatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance and support of researchers at the Workplace Accommodations RERC, Wireless RERC, and other associated centers. This is a product of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Workplace Accommodations, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the U.S. Department of Education under grant numbers H133E020720 and H133E070026, and the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wireless Technologies funded by NIDRR under grant number H133E060061. The opinions contained in this publication are those of the grantee and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Education.


  • Aging
  • Communications
  • Community
  • Disability
  • Participation
  • Policy
  • Social networks
  • e-Accessibility


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