How the Internet Has Helped Me as a Person With a Disability

It’s no secret that the Internet has enabled our society to be more plugged in and connected with people than ever before. We may know what our friends, family, and significant others are doing at all times, and we can easily reach them in a number of ways should we need to: Facebook, text messages, Twitter, email, phone calls, SnapChat, etc. The possibilities are endless!

This era of growing technology is readily available to almost anyone, anywhere, and that includes people with disabilities. Many of today’s devices and platforms have various accessibility features built in. For example, iPhones have VoiceOver and speech options for people with impaired vision. They have hearing aid volume controls and flash features for those who are hearing impaired, and AssistiveTouch if you struggle with touching the screen.

Websites like Facebook have accessibility options as well, which may come as a surprise to people who aren’t aware of them. For example, Facebook supports VoiceOver and screen readers, and they even have a form where you can submit any issue you may be having with an assistive feature or device not working with the site. Facebook also supports closed captioning, keyboard shortcuts, and text enhancers like zoom and bold. Facebook has expanded these options across their site as a whole, ranging from your profile page to your news feed and even your Messenger app.

The Internet as a whole is trying to bridge the gap and bring people together like never before. Everyone can feel connected with each other and able to interact with one another. I’ve found that the Internet offers many sources of support for people with disabilities. There is bound to be someone out there with your diagnosis who goes through the same things you do every day. Thanks to the Internet, it doesn’t matter what disability you have or how it affects you, there’s someone like you who will understand, support you, and be a friend.

The Internet can be there in your time of need. Back when I was struggling with severe undiagnosed chronic pain, cerebral palsy support groups on Facebook, articles I’d found on various websites, blogs written by parents and fellow cerebral palsy people alike were what kept me going. These things supported me and pushed me to keep going back to doctors to find answers, and they provided me with suggestions when the medical team around me didn’t have all or any of the answers I needed. But perhaps most importantly, the Internet let me know I was not alone.

I know the positive side of the Internet seldom makes the news. They would rather focus on cyberbullying, cyberstalking, hacking, catfishing, etc. But actually the Internet can be a beautiful way to feel validated as a person with a disability. We know that when we sign on we can be ourselves; we can talk about our struggles and our pain with people who understand. It’s a place where we won’t feel judged for talking about how hard it is sometimes. I believe the Internet has set people with disabilities free, by connecting us with each other.

What has the Internet done for you?

This story originally appeared on Cerebral Palsy News Today.

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