Accepted paper:

'If my wheelchair can't take me there, my social media will': Youth with disabilities in higher education in Kenya and their activities on social media.

Authors:

Alice Gathoni (The Open University)

Paper short abstract:

The study reports on Kenya's youth with disabilities' activity on social media and how these activities impact their current participation and future possibilities to live the kind of 'life they value' as young people.

Paper long abstract:

This paper reports on an ongoing PhD study that seeks to understand youth with disabilities in higher education in Kenya and their activities on social media. The participants in this study represent a small group of youth with disabilities in higher education who have defied the odds and broken through the country's elitist educational system that continues to leave behind a significant number of youth with disabilities and consequently reduces their opportunities to participate in development in adulthood. This participatory study is framed within Sen's capability approach and explores these youth's activity on social media and how these activities impact their current participation and future aspirations in life. The study worked with seven participants (20 - 24 years) from three universities in Nairobi. Data was collected in three phases and employed integrated methods including: informal conversations, social media diaries, social media maps, life-story interviews and a self-directed photography session. This presentation will focus on the participants' social media activities in the context of their educational journey in relation to their; choice of social media, what they value about social media and the people and networks they engage with. It will in turn consider how these participants' activities on social media impact their social capabilities. Emerging data suggest that social media expands the participants capabilities for advocacy, confidence, knowledge, social relations, income generation, individual agency and voice which are key to pursuing the kind of 'life they value' as young people. Implications for policy and practice will also be discussed.

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