Global Approaches to Learning and Accessibility

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about globalised approaches to web accessibility. Much of the web, its infrastructure, standards, models, resources and code are knitted together in what is known as the ‘global North’. Importantly, the vast majority of disabled people live in the ‘global South’. As a result, a growing concern is that Northern views of the web and disability are implicitly exported to Southern users and developers, whose knowledge and understanding is undervalued, or colonised as a result; with potentially counter-productive outcomes for disabled users. This is an unclear picture, because in real terms, there is very little evidence as to disabled people’s uses of technology globally. Pockets of research exist, but these tend to be within industrialised, urban situations, rather than within low-income or emerging economies – even within this frame, the comparability of data and definitions of disability vary widely.

Within UK disability studies, there is an increasing movement towards recognising how eurocentric and Northern the discipline is. I have been thinking a lot about the intersection between disability studies and accessibility – and how one might inform the other. Important thinking points are becoming more visible in the disability studies literature, but this is not always available to designers, developers or web accessibility educators. I highlight the following reading list associated with a forthcoming course (and attendance grant) recently highlighted on the Disability Research discussion email list: Disability and Poverty in the Global South: Activating European Movements for Change. I recommend joining this list. I should also state that the readings below are only a small snippet of a growing literature.

The reading list includes:

The course itself has the following details:

Disability and Poverty in the Global South: Activating European Movements for Change

The recent World Report on Disability estimates that some one billion people around the globe are disabled and some 80% live in the global South. Around 20% of the world’s poorest are disabled people. This course builds on the EU development policy and its commitment to raising awareness of development issues, promoting development education and mobilizing support for poverty reduction. A transnational panel from academia and civil society will help to engage critically and discuss these themes. Come and share your experiences and reflections on the island of Malta in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

This short course is organised by Integra Foundation (Malta) in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) (UK). Apply for a Grundtvig grant (adult education) to participate in the training “Disability and Poverty in the Global South: Activating European Movements for Change”- in Malta- ALL COSTS COVERED (Course fees, flight, accommodation and food).

Guest speakers include: Dan Goodley (University of Sheffield) and Shaun Grech (Manchester Metropolitan University). For more information on this Grundtvig course, please follow these links: Course information and Course venue and accommodation (PDF)

Eligibility criteria

  • – Any adult interested in lifelong learning opportunities, or who is working in the sphere of adult education e.g. civil society, policy makers, voluntary groups etc.
  • – A national of any EU country, or of Lifelong Learning Program participating countries- Turkey, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein.

If you would like to participate, please download the Registration form ( and return by email to

We will then advise you on the simple process to apply for the grant. Deadline for applications:16th September 2012!

Should you have any questions on the grant application or the course, please feel free to contact Maria Pisani

I hope this is of use.

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