Communications: the European Journal of Communication Research vol:37 issue:2 pages:129-151
In this article, we explore and contrast the uses and gratifications (sought and obtained) of the Internet for blind/visually impaired and deaf/hearing impaired individuals. The uses and gratifications approach integrates the different issues that surround disabled persons’ Internet use into one rich and coherent framework and therefore allows a better understanding of the relationship between benefits obtained from Internet use, underlying needs and the barriers that create gaps between the gratifications sought and obtained. Based on 21 in-depth interviews, our study shows that both visually and hearing impaired individuals use the Internet mostly for gathering information and for communicating with friends and family; meeting new people online was not a priority need. To a great extent these Internet uses are driven by the underlying need for independence and active agency. Although our visually and hearing impaired informants share this need, the two groups differ in the gratifications obtained from the Internet due to differential barriers that hinder their use.