E-Community Activity: Using Technology to Enhance Your Social Life

Send this message to the e-community of protégés and mentors.

Subject: Using technology to enhance your social life

As a graduate student with a hearing impairment stated, "I think the most successful people with disabilities are those who have developed social skills that allow them to interact effectively with people who don't have disabilities. This includes educating their peers about their disabilities and getting others to understand that they are people first."

The Internet can help you cultivate positive social relationships. Speaking ability and speed of communication are unimportant when communicating via email. Spell check features improve the quality of writing for those whose disabilities impact writing ability.

Below, people with disabilities discuss how technology has helped them achieve a successful social life. Read each statement and see how it applies to you.

  • The computer has become a real asset to my social life. Because of a voice impairment, it is sometimes difficult for me to communicate with people in person. However, with the advent of electronic mail, that is no longer an issue. Electronic mail allows me to communicate with friends without being hampered by my voice. Electronic mail also allows me to keep in contact with family members and friends who live out of state. (high school student with a speech impairment)
  • I have made many, many friends over the Internet—more than I have in "real" life. This includes people who have the same interests as me and who do the same work as I want to get into. (young person with a mobility impairment)
  • The Internet allows me to keep in touch with friends who live far away from me. I have received help from mentors through the 'Net. It is always great to have contact with people who can help you out with a problem or help you find what you are looking for. (college student who is blind)
  • I can communicate with my mother and father without having to pay long-distance charges. I also use a financial program to keep track of my checking account charges. (adult with a visual impairment)
  • I am deaf and I can't hear over the phone. I have to use a special machine and then call the operator. It takes a long time. When I use the computer to communicate, people don't even know that I am deaf. I just type the words. I like that. (high school student who is deaf)
  • I receive help from a mentor via email and spread some wisdom of my own. (college student with a mobility impairment)
  • I find it's difficult to make friends because people judge me before they know me. I'm quite shy, but to people who actually know me, I'm quite the 'hyper-hellion.' I think this has a lot to do with my disability, because it just turns into a label for me to wear. You try to explain your disability, which is part of you, and all you get back is sympathy. Making friends on the Internet allows me to escape my label. (high school student with a mobility impairment)

How has computer technology supported your social life and helped you give and receive help? For example, have you made friends on the Internet? Have you received help from a friend or mentor? Have you been a mentor to someone else?