Tagged: web accessibility

Disability and Rehabilitation: Special Issue on Universal Design

Disability and Rehabilitation have published a Special Issue on Universal Design (vol 36, no. 16, 2014), edited by Rob Imrie and Rachael Luck. This includes my paper Web accessibility standards and disability: developing critical perspectives on accessibility‘ (abstract follows below). If you would like to download the paper, but do not have access to the journal you can access one of 15 ePrints I have to give away (this access has now expired 22/01/2015). Alternatively, get in touch with me directly via selewthwaite [at] gmail.com. Here are the details:

Abstract: Web accessibility standards and disability: developing critical perspectives on accessibility.

Purpose: Currently, dominant web accessibility standards do not respect disability as a complex and culturally contingent interaction; recognizing that disability is a variable, contrary and political power relation, rather than a biological limit. Against this background there is clear scope to broaden the ways in which accessibility standards are understood, developed and applied.
Methods: Commentary.
Results: The values that shape and are shaped by legislation promote universal, statistical and automated approaches to web accessibility. This results in web accessibility standards conveying powerful norms fixing the relationship between technology and disability, irrespective of geographical, social, technological or cultural diversity.
Conclusions: Web accessibility standards are designed to enact universal principles; however, they express partial and biopolitical understandings of the relation between disability and technology. These values can be limiting, and potentially counter-productive, for example, for the majority of disabled people in the “Global South” where different contexts constitute different disabilities and different experiences of web access. To create more robust, accessible outcomes for disabled people, research and standards practice should diversify to embrace more interactional accounts of disability in different settings.

Imrie and Luck’s special issue is a landmark collection in the conceptual development of Universal Design.  Amongst the papers, ‘Parallels and problems of normalization in rehabilitation and universal design: enabling connectivities’, by Barbara E. Gibson is available as an Open Access PDF. Other titles include:

  • ‘Designing inclusive environments: rehabilitating the body and the relevance of universal design’, by Rob Imrie, Rachael Luck
  • ‘Universally design social policy: when disability disappears?’ by Jerome Bickenbach
  • ‘Universal design and the challenge of diversity: reflections on the principles of UD, based on empirical research of people’s mobility’ by Myriam Winance
  • ‘Universal Design and disability: an interdisciplinary perspective’ by Inger Marie Lid
  • ‘DeafSpace and the principles of universal design’ by Claire Edwards and Gill Harold
  • ‘About the nature of design in universal design’ by Ann Heylighen
  • ‘Situating universal design architecture: designing with whom?’ by Paul Jones

Further presentations and podcasts from the series of seminars that led this this special issue are available via the universalising design project website which rewards exploration. Comments and questions, as ever, are welcome! 

Peer to Peer Accessibility in Social Networks

Over the course of the Christmas break the schedule for the CSUN conference was released. I will be contributing to three sessions (a discussion panel and two papers) all now highlighted on my diary page and available on the conference web pages. It looks like Abstracts will not be available until the event itself. As a result, I will publish mine here for preview and comment. Hopefully they will be of interest to general accessibility/social media readers as well as delegates. First up: Peer-to-Peer Accessibility in Social Networks, a paper exploring how web accessibility can be socially mediated by peers within social networks, using evidence from research with disabled students at UK Universities. The introduction is reproduced below, with a PDF of the full document (approximately 1,500 words) available below, both for download and embedded in Google’s PDF viewer. If you would like to read the paper in a different format, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Peer to Peer accessibility in social networks. 

This paper considers the influence of peers on disabled user’s experiences of accessibility in the social network Facebook. It highlights the positive role that friends can play in mitigating inaccessible systems. It also highlights the importance of social dynamics for acquiring access to digital domains. This contrary observation –  that disabled users with greater social resources will be better able to access and develop online social networks – suggests a digital divide that is, as yet, under researched. The paper uses findings from doctoral case study research with disabled students at UK universities to identify social aspects of accessibility and how these manifest in disabled students’ experience.

‘Peer-To-Peer Accessibility’ PDF