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How I use the internet and online social media : experiences of young people who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

This thesis addresses a specific gap in the literature base regarding the self-reported experiences of using the internet and online social media by adolescents and young adults (young people) who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) within the UK. The research took a socially constructivist approach and used a qualitative methodology to conduct semi-structured interviews with twenty-five young people (aged 14-24) with complex communication needs. The data was collected over a period of eighteen months within a mainstream school, two specialist schools, four specialist colleges and an adult residential centre. The study is based within the context of adolescent development for young people who use AAC. Peer relationships are important to adolescents (Helseth & Misvaer, 2010) and Smith (2005) identified establishing friendships is difficult for young people who use AAC in light of their physical and complex communication challenges which increases the risk of loneliness. Using online communication technology can help mitigate feelings of loneliness with people who use AAC (Cooper, Balandin & Trembath, 2009), although significant barriers for access have been identified (McNaughton & Bryen, 2007). The views of young people who use AAC are under-represented on the topic of the internet and online social media. There are important legal obligations to seek the views of young people with disabilities (Article 12, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989; Article 21, United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006) but progress has been slow to include the voices of young people with significant communication impairment (Morris, 2003; Rabiee, Sloper and Beresford 2005; Wickenden, 2009). A grounded theory approach to data analysis generated nine categories, from which the core category identified was the desire to use the internet and online social media. A theoretical grounded theory is proposed which is also refined to offer a more accessible practical application version. The proposed ground theory is then used to explore whether outcome measures, focused on social inclusion within community 2 environments, may be applicable to perceptions of social inclusion within virtual communities. The key message of the thesis is that young people who use AAC have a clear desire to use the internet and online social media, as it is perceived to offer tangible benefits that are synonymous with identified outcome measures for community-based social inclusion, but they also face many challenges, especially regarding accessibility.
Date January 2013
CreatorsHynan, Amanda
PublisherManchester Metropolitan University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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