Emoticons as Self-Disclosure in Social Media and Its Meaning for People Who are Deaf

Eka Bagus Rachdito, Z. Hidayat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: The limitations in communication for people who are deaf or unable to speak are evident. Like other people with disabilities, they too seek to acquire knowledge, search for information and understand its content, but there are barriers to self-expression and self-disclosure. This study provides insights into opportunities for people who are deaf, yet are able to access digital communication technology. It analyses their use of social media and emoticons for messages and communication. Online interaction enables self-disclosure to other people with deafness, as well as to people without disabilities. Method: The study used a qualitative approach with a phenomenological design. The interpretation of data was carried out with 5 key informants from the deaf community and 12 members of the deaf community, who use social media applications and various types of emoticons for self-disclosure on WhatsApp and Facebook. Selection of various emoticons took place through in-depth interviews, observations, and analysis of the conversations among themselves as well as people without disabilities. Results: The findings show that the motives for using social media, emoticons, and communication technology are to build online interactions and enable self-disclosure among people who are deaf. The use of emoticons in social media helps people who are deaf to express their feelings towards others, to communicate with their families and build intimate interpersonal relationships, making it easier to get along in their community. The ability to interact and understand social media content and communication technology, in general, depends on their experience and ability to master and give meaning to signs, words, emoticons, and language. Conclusion: People with hearing impairment have had significant benefits from using social media and communication technology. Access to information and knowledge about the personal lives of individuals and their communities, through social media, has added cohesiveness within the community of people who are deaf. By using various emoticons, people with hearing impairment can apply signs, words, and symbols to express emotions and feelings. This makes the meaning of a sentence or interaction between individuals more robust and precise, creates stronger messages, and at the same time can be a medium for self-disclosure. However, due to difficulty in distinguishing between messages on social media that may be true or false, people who are deaf tend to feel at times uncertain and confused.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-62
Number of pages23
JournalAsia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication technology
  • Deafness
  • Emoticons
  • People with disabilities
  • Self-disclosure
  • Social media


Dive into the research topics of 'Emoticons as Self-Disclosure in Social Media and Its Meaning for People Who are Deaf'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this