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Towards Inclusive Avatars: Disability Representation in Avatar Platforms

by   Kelly Mack, et al.

Digital avatars are an important part of identity representation, but there is little work on understanding how to represent disability. We interviewed 18 people with disabilities and related identities about their experiences and preferences in representing their identities with avatars. Participants generally preferred to represent their disability identity if the context felt safe and platforms supported their expression, as it was important for feeling authentically represented. They also utilized avatars in strategic ways: as a means to signal and disclose current abilities, access needs, and to raise awareness. Some participants even found avatars to be a more accessible way to communicate than alternatives. We discuss how avatars can support disability identity representation because of their easily customizable format that is not strictly tied to reality. We conclude with design recommendations for creating platforms that better support people in representing their disability and other minoritized identities.


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