05/11/11 Lincolnshire teen to talk about social media risks for disabled people

Lincolnshire teen chosen to talk about risks of social media for disabled people


Logged in: Josephine Tolley will be attending a conference in Italy exploring how disabled people are using social media. Picture: John Jenkins

A teenager with cerebral palsy has been selected to speak about the risks of social media use to young disabled people at an international conference.

Josephine Tolley, 17, from Fiskerton, was one of two people selected to represent the UK at the event in Florence, Italy.

Taking place on Monday, November 28, and Tuesday, November 29, the conference will explore the use of ICT by young disabled people across the world.

Josephine is an A-level student at William Farr Church of England Comprehensive School.

She was chosen by The Alliance for Inclusive Education (Allfie), after getting involved in its Viper project.

In the scheme, 16 disabled young people research how services to their peers can be improved through user participation.

Josephine’s talk will explain how disabled people become vulnerable because they are often more willing to connect with strangers online than others.

The young speaker says this is a result of individuals being less involved in other social circles because of their disabilities.

She said: “Young disabled people can get into situations that it’s hard to get out of for emotional and physical reasons.

“For some of these young people, they don’t have as much of a social life and they rely on these social media sites, and are on them all the time.

“So if someone contacts them online, they are going to put themselves out there to make friends.

“But, at the end of the day, I think social media is a good way of able-bodied and disabled people integrating.”

Josephine’s grandmother, Anne Smith, of Broadway, Lincoln, said: “I think she’s wonderful.

“I’m really proud that she has been chosen for this, and the way my daughter has brought her up.

“She’s brought her up to live as normal a life as possible.”

Mrs Smith says Josephine does not let her disability get in the way of enjoying herself.

She said: “She will try anything. It’s never clouded her thinking.

“She’s very positive.”