On Thursday evening last week I made a short presentation at the a11yLDN (Accessibility London) MeetUp on Aversive Disablism and Hierarchies of Impairment, two concepts from Disability Studies that I believe have powerful applications for web accessibility practitioners and activists amongst others. This was a great collaborative event, with diverse presentations from some excellent speakers. Despite working on a shoestring, organisers have now made videos of each presentation available on Vimeo. My talk is embedded below.
Mine is a pocket size talk at 10 minutes, unfortunately the sound quality is quite low in places so if you want to know more about Avserive Disablism and Hierarchies of Impairment in an alternative format please consider at the following links:
Other presentations from the a11yLDN event are available on the A11yLDN video account. I highly recommend having a look at the presentation schedule from the day on the Accessibility London Website and browsing the videos according to your interests. In addition, you may want to subscribe to the website feeds, twitter or follow the organisers (Makayla Lewis and Graham Armfield) twitter accounts – as there are plans to repeat the event on a monthly basis, with the next meeting due in January.
To take advantage of Routledge’s free Education journal access over the course of April 2011, I’m presenting papers to highlight research with powerful applications in the fields of technology, disability and education. Comments and suggestions are, as always, welcome.
Aversive Disablism is a little-known social phenomenon that exerts huge influence in the lives of people with disability. Deal’s paper highlights the importance of understanding and challenging this form of subtle disablism to ensure (amongst other aims) that design communities responsible for our built (or digital) environment do not perpetuate a society that actively disables people with impairments. In this sense, aversive disablism represents an important concept, without which any vocabulary of disability or design is incomplete. I drew on this paper for my 2010 Blogging Against Disablism post and Web4All joint paper with Brian Kelly and David Sloan last year, applying Deal’s arguments to incorporate online environments. Deal writes lucidly for a broad audience, as such this paper represents essential reading for all.
Consider Goggin and Newell’s groundbreaking 2003 book Digital Disability. This identifies the outcomes of web developer’s disregard for disabled users requirements as “doing production”, resulting in a disabling web that enacts disability. The authors arguments are developed for contemporary Web 2.0 discourse by Ellis and Kent (2010) in their book Disability and New Media. Ellis and Kent develop this notion of “doing production” with regard to Social Networking Sites – their insights into the structural production of disability in social networks, I feel, resonates strongly with Deal’s notion of aversive disablism.