artphoto by splunge
artphoto by TheophileEscargot
artphoto by Kronos_to_Earth
artphoto by ethylene





Mecha Wiki

Metachat Eye


IRC Channels



Comment Feed:


30 September 2006

Ahoooooey MeCha: Looking for search terms for a particular type of academic study. I need cites to justify my cool project to funders. I KNOW it will work: how can I show it?[More:]
We're going to teach the families of very disabled people we work with to use the internet so they can understand their rights, learn specific medical and technical information, find and contact essential officials and agencies, find specialised products and services, and generally advocate for themselves. We'll provide basic technical support over email and phone, and refer them to experts when they need it to get back online.

We'll teach them to maintain and protect their computers, search effectively online, evaluate content and collaborate with each other using email lists and forums, with physical and online leaflets. We'll survey them to assess their needs and develop workshops.

Are there studies proving for any group with difficulties that this kind of internet literacy training works to empower people? I cast as broad a net as possible. Where can I search best for this information?

Posted here because I used my AskMe question for the week on campaigning stuff. :P
Are there studies proving for any group with difficulties that this kind of internet literacy training works to empower people?

AOL, MySpace.

/me ducks.
posted by orthogonality 30 September | 17:35
I just did a Google Scholar search for "disabled", "internet" and "technical support" and got what could be a few promising leads. Mind you, I'm a physical scientist, so I might be totally off on the wrong track. Sounds like a cool project.
posted by hangashore 30 September | 17:42
From the perspective of someone who is not only disabled (iow, me), but also has been on the internet for over 13 years, has a BS in CS from GA Tech, and has professional experience using the internet to research a broad range of fields...

I cannot answer your question at the moment but I will work on it. However, I have separated your list into two parts.

Part 1: learn specific medical and technical information, find specialised products and services

These two knowledge categories are widely available and easily searchable, therefore easily teachable.

One problem though, for the most common disabling conditions, the vast amount of information can be overwhelming, not only in quantity but also quality. A lot of information beyond the basics is conflicting, and a significant portion is just plain downright wrong.

Teaching someone how to evaluate this bulk of data is very difficult.

Part 2: understand their rights, find and contact essential officials and agencies, and generally advocate for themselves

I have spent three years searching for this type of information without success. Just trying to navigate through the disability section of the Social Security website is frustrating. Not only is it a jumbled mess, but the servers are overloaded and if you get bounced, you often must start over from the beginning. ... and that's just at the federal level.

On the other side of the coin is the private sector, disability insurance policies. I have only just recently dug up some information on how to handle disability insurance companies, and basically, it was horrible. One website even contradicted itself.

On top of all that, you have the hucksters trying to sell sham cures. They have swamped the major search engines with the web equivalent of infomercials, websites that appear to be written by qualified professionals but are no more than deceptive fronts.

I am, by most accounts, a fairly intelligent man, and I can be very determined when hunting down raw data and then analyzing it for weaknesses and gaps. In my opinion, because of the fraud and the low ratio of good/bad information, the web is virtually useless for the average disabled person trying to learn how to cope with their medical condition, the changes in their lifestyle, or their entitlements.

As for the discussion forums, just imagine a totally unmoderated AskMe.

I hate to burst your bubble. I really wish the internet situation was different. Just to give you one example of a question I have yet to find answered even moderately well, "When is it time for me to hire a disability lawyer?"

I have concluded that the answer is, "If you have to ask, it's probably already too late."
posted by mischief 30 September | 18:06
no way, baby || Moose eats a grape