Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 1991


Western Journal of Speech Communication 55:3 (Summer 1991), pp. 254–274.

doi: 10.1080/10570319109374384


Copyright © 1991 Western States Communication Association; published by Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


Persons with physical disabilities were studied to determine how they communicate when they perceive able-bodied persons are expecting or demanding disclosure about their disability in new relationships. An interpretive analysis was performed on 350 pages of transcripted data from interviews with disabled adults. The results showed that disabled persons were able to describe the communication of able-bodied others and their attributions when disclosure was demanded or expected. This study revealed communication strategies disabled persons use to manage disclosure. These strategies were discussed as regulating privacy boundaries, whereby disabled persons seek to be acknowledged as “persons first” by controlling dissemination of private information.