This research explores how the technological affordances of emerging social virtual environments and VR platforms where individuals from an online disability community are represented in avatar form, correspond to these users’ development of embodied identity, ability, and access to work and social communities. The visual attributes of these avatars, which can realistically reflect the user’s physical self or divert from human form entirely, raise interesting questions regarding the role identity plays in the workplace, be it gender, race, age, weight, or visible disability. Additionally, the technology itself becomes fundamental to identity as the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), motion capture, and speech-to-text/text-to-speech technologies create digital capabilities that become part of an individual’s identity. This raises further questions about how virtual world technologies can both increase and potentially create barriers to accessibility for individuals who find freedom in their technologically embodied surrogates.



Author ORCID Identifier

Donna Davis 0000-0002-2140-9361