Communication and Disability in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Katie Ellis, Gerard Goggin, Duc Dau

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


In this chapter, we provide a review of communication and disability during COVID-19 times. Grounded in frameworks from disability studies, media studies and critical public health research, we offer reflections on the turning points in the pandemic for communication and disability.

We locate our review of disability communication in Australia, discussing the ways in which people with a disability were overlooked in the pandemic’s early stages. In particular, we note that new technologies can at times reinforce the exclusion of people with a disability. In the face of such challenges, in the absence of a clear and comprehensive official plan for disability communication, disability advocacy groups, activists and influencers were proactive in creating an ‘enlivened disability public sphere’ with particular prominence on social media platforms.

Our key argument is that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed persistent and enduring social inequalities for people with disability. These inequalities have significant communicative and digital dimensions – and a hopeful legacy of the pandemic are the lessons about how these can be addressed in future. In particular, the pandemic underscores the need for better communication regarding disability and fair access to communication resources and infrastructure for people with disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunicating COVID-19
Subtitle of host publicationMedia, Trust, and Public Engagement
EditorsMonique Lewis, Eliza Govender, Kate Holland
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-41237-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-41236-3, 978-3-031-41239-4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2024


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