Authors: Thompson, Christine, Alison Bacon; Timothy Auburn.

Article: Disabled or differently-enabled? Dyslexic identities in online forum postings.

Publication: Disability & Society (Taylor and Francis). Volume 30, Issue 9, pages 1328-1344. Published online 27 Nov. 2015 | DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2015.1093460

This study presents a novel exploration into how people with dyslexia construct personal identities within anonymous, unsolicited, postings to an online discussion forum. An interpretational phenomenological analysis suggested three key identities: learning-disabled, differently-enabled and societally-disabled. These are discussed in terms of the extent to which they draw differentially on a discourse of disability as opposed to one of individual difference. The identities are to an extent malleable and overlapping according to context. Postings suggested overall that while some contributors constructed themselves as differently-enabled and celebrated dyslexia-related abilities, others sensed themselves having a disabled identity imposed upon them. Dyslexia is perceived as negatively construed within a society which promotes literacy and cognitive acuity as essential aspects of educational and social competence and where learning differences are poorly tolerated. In addition, this study highlights the potential of online forum contributions in the study of social influences in under-researched groups.

Tagged as: adult dyslexia, identity development, neurodiversity, and social construct


Christine Thompson, Alison M. Bacon & Timothy Auburn (2015) Disabled or differently-enabled? Dyslexic identities in online forum postings, Disability & Society, 30:9, 1328-1344, DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2015.1093460