Category: accessibility

EVENT: Introduction to Tools for Social Media Research

I’m delighted to be presenting on accessible digital methods as part of the Social Research Association/NSMNSS Network’s one-day session introducing tools for social media research (October 11th in London). I’m in good company and looking forward to this event. Full details follow below:

The SRA has teamed up with the #NSMNSS network to present a one-day session in October on tools for social media research. There are 8 expert speakers:

  • Steven McDermot, University of the Arts London – Critically Engaging with Social Media Research Tools
  • Wasim Ahmed, University of Sheffield – Introduction to NodeXL
  • Luke Sloan, Social Data Science Lab, Cardiff University – Democratising Access to Social Media Data – the Collaborative Online Social Media ObServatory (COSMOS)
  • Gillian Mooney, University of Leeds – Using Facebook as a Research Tool
  • Phillip Brooker, University of Bath – Doing Social Media Analytics with Chorus
  • Sarah Lewthwaite, NCRM University of Southampton – Developing inclusive and accessible digital methods: engaging critically with your digital toolbox
  • Yeran Sun, Urban Big Data Centre, University of Glasgow – How to use R and QGIS to find out tourism hotspots in cities
  • Francesco D’Orazio, Pulsar – The Visual DNA of car brands in social media

The speakers will introduce a mix of (mostly) free-to-use tools, demonstrating with real examples how they can be used in the analysis of a range of social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, and Flickr. They will cover both quantitative and qualitative social media analysis techniques, including the analysis of both text and image data, network analysis, geographical analysis, and more.

The event will benefit social researchers who want to find out more about what this new methodology can offer, and social media researchers wanting to learn about tools and techniques.

Date & time: 11 October 2016, from 10am to 5pm
Venue: Friends House, Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ.
Price: £115, or £95 for SRA members. (includes lunch & refreshments)
Registration: please book on the SRA website
Delegate places: 80

With best regards,

pp. SRA events group

pedagogical culture for accessibility education

This week marked the 13th International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility conference (Web For All, #W4A2016 as it’s also known), this year hosted in Montreal, Canada.  I’ve co-authored papers for the conference before in 2010 Brian Kelly and David Sloan (Developing countries; developing experiences: approaches to accessibility for the real world)  and again in 2012 with Martyn Cooper, David and Brian (see A challenge to web accessibility metrics and guidelines: putting people and processes first). This year’s theme was ‘Education for All on the Web’ and on Monday David Sloan presented our joint communication paper ‘Exploring pedagogical culture for accessibility education in Computing Science‘, which focused on the teaching and learning of accessibility in higher educaton.

David Sloan presents our research on the pedagogical culture of accessibility at W4A 2016 in Montreal, Canada.
David Sloan presents our research on the pedagogical culture of accessibility at W4A 2016 in Montreal, Canada. Image by @LuzRello

Here’s the abstract:

This paper identifies some of the challenges of teaching and learning accessibility through the lens of pedagogy (which deals with the theory and practice of education). We argue that accessibility education in computing science presents a set of unique and challenging characteristics for those engaged in accessibility capacity building. Significant moves are being made to embed accessibility within academic curricula and professional domains. However, through a qualitative thematic review of the accessibility pedagogic literature, we find that the field lacks the pedagogic culture necessary to support widespread excellence in teaching and learning. Nonetheless, our review identifies aspects of this small but important literature that indicate how a pedagogic culture for accessibility can be stimulated through research, debate and discussion, to promote a more pedagogically-grounded approach to the field as a whole.

An open access copy of the full paper is available on the Southampton ePrints repository (accessible PDF). We’ve also published the full bibliography of the 2005-2015 papers we reviewed as part of our exploration of the literature. David has added our slides to slideshare (see below).

I’m planning to continue developing this line of thinking and research. If this is an area you’re interested in, or working on, please get in touch.

Edge 3 Conference @ Microsoft London

Edge London Logo
Edge London logo

I’ve been invited by FT Labs to participate in the Accessibility panel scheduled as part of the third Edge conference at Microsoft in London on Friday March 21st, 2014.  In their own words:

Edge is a new kind of non-profit one-day conference on advanced web technologies for developers and browser vendors, raising funds for CodeClub.

The conference is hosted by FT Labs, Microsoft and Google in a collaborative spirit and intended for an expert audience. After the event, all panels, questions, discussions and so forth will be made publicly available. More information is available on the Edge London website. Follow @EdgeConf on Twitter for updates.

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

A11yLDN MeetUp: Video now on Vimeo

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.

a11yLDNmeetup 01.12.2011: Disability Studies and Accessibility: Two Critical Concepts by Sarah Lewthwaite from a11yLDN on Vimeo.

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.

Event: #a11yLND Meetup December 1st 2011

Accessibility London Meetup
Accessibility London Meetup

A quick update for you this morning: firstly, welcome to my new blog – I’ve been migrating 32 Days Remaining to Slewth Press at a new and bespoke URL: This process will soon have its own dedicated post reflecting on the particular steps and plugins I’ve used  to make the WordPress work for me. In the meantime, any formative feedback is very welcome, so please consider a comment below, tweet or email via the Contact page.

Secondly: I’m delighted to announce that I will be delivering a lightning presentation at the Accessibility London (#a11yLDN) Meetup. I’ll be delivering at 10 minute talk on “Disability Studies and Accessibility: Two Critical Concepts”. During the presentation I’ll introduce Aversive Disablism and Hierarchies of Impairment and the relevance of these concepts for Web Developers.

The event is free and runs from 7pm-9pm on Thursday December 1st at City Univeristy, London. It features a very distinguished group of presenters and looks to be a very interesting and stimulating event. To find out more visit or register visit event bright who will release the final batch of tickets today. In case it’s useful, please note, in addition to the Accessibility London website, there is also a twitter account @a11yLDNMeetUp for live updates and further links. I hope to see you there.

Feel Good (Braille) Business Cards on a Budget

I recently ordered a new set of business cards to match my new prefix (Dr) and new email address. Previously I’ve relied on institutional business cards – however, as I’m now freelance, significant decisions have had to be made regarding content, design, usability and accessibility. Cost and convenience have also been important. As with all such things, time was short as I noticed several impending events careering towards me; (see my Twitter account @slewth for forthcoming tweets from the a11yLDN unConference on Weds 21st Sept 2011).

The need for speed led me to Moo supply a huge range of designed templates, with options for those wanting to make their own. They print to both Premium and high quality Green standards.  They can rush a print job and supply a sprint delivery also.

I chose the Less is More design by Jonathan Howells on several grounds: it uses a large, legible font, the contrast is reasonable and, importantly, there’s plenty of analogue hack space on the reverse.  The cards arrived today – so I’m halfway there.

Less Is More business card
The front of my new business card using large black and white text on a mid tone grey background.
Less is More business card: reverse view
Less is More business card reverse view: the words 'My Card' and a large blank space that I intend to hack.

As committed readers will know, I also want braille for my business cards.  My previous investigations in this area have led me to Azzabat, who have supplied me with transparent braille stickers that can be applied over a standard business card (or anything else). Azzabat frankly rock the opposition.

University business card with braille sticker
My previous university business card with transparent braille sticker overlaid. Braille on this side represents my name, phd status and the LSRI over four lines.
University business card with braille: reverse view.
My university business card with braille label: reverse view. Four lines of embossed braille give my phone number (top line) and email address (over next three lines).

There are no set up fees, customer service is excellent and I recommend them highly, especially for institutions and other organisations. Importantly, as their labels are clear, they can be stuck to both sides of a business card (as pictured) – this is vital given the large (36 size) font necessary for braille  – as it allows more space for contact information to be represented.  Azzabat have a minimum order of 100 units with labels retailing at £0.85 ($1.33) per unit. This is well below other equivalent brailling services for business cards, but on this occassion I needed a cheaper option.

As a result, I’m taking a D.I.Y. approach. With a view to creating my own (opaque) labels  for the reverse of my new cards. I’ve just ordered the RNIB‘s Braille King Pocket Frame.  This is a small device that allows the user to create braille. The demonstration video below shows how it is used.

The Braille King Pocket Frame retails at £14.39 ($22.5). I’m really looking forward to trying this out. I’ll post the results back to this blog when the device arrives. Comments, as always, are welcome.

Viva Result: Minor Corrections

Great news! On Monday morning I completed my Doctoral Viva – the examination of my PhD thesis “Disability 2.0: Student dis/Connections. A study of student experiences of disability and social networks on campus in Higher Education.” My examiners were accessibility, disability and education expert Prof. Jane Seale (Plymouth University) and identity and methods specialist Dr Kay Hawe (University of Nottingham).

I’m pleased to report that my research exploring students’ experiences of the socio-cultural aspects of disability in social networks has been accepted, and I have been awarded my PhD pending minor corrections. I will complete these corrections over the next three months. Huge thanks go out to everyone involved, especially my supervisors, Dr Charles Crook and Dr Gordon Joyes.

If you would like more information about my research in advance of the publications of the thesis and related documents, please get in touch with me directly via

W4A 2010: a web accessibility conference report from the Google W4A student award winners

My joint paper at the W4A2010 has been reported in ACM SIGWEB Newsletter, in the ‘W4A 2010: a web accessibility conference report from the Google W4A student award winners’.  If, like me, you were unable to attend this year, the conference  award winners Maia Naftali (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina) and Willian Massani Watanabe (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil). Maia and Willian have kindly provided their reactions on the conference.

2010 saw the launch of the W4A student award scheme, supported by Google, to enable two promising web accessibility research students to attend W4A, the annual International Cross-Disciplinary Research Conference onWeb Accessibility. Students, this is definately worth checking out for W4A 2011 conference in Hydrabad, India,  if your research relates to Accessibility.

In other news, I’m now nearing submission – so don’t expect any updates imminantly, however – I’m looking forward to hearing more about two forthcoming conferences that I won’t be attending, the ALT-C 2010  and the Disability Studies Conference in Lancaster. Both fall on the same dates, 7th-9th September, I’m hoping to surveille them both – fingers crossed for web/twitter coverage.

Digital Election Special

Yesterday Alex Watson (@Sifter) published Use the Internet to Decide How to Vote on bit-tech. The article identifies various resources, from checking your voter status at to researching your current MP at They Work For You.

With less than 24 hours till polling, this post is a little late, but I’d like to highlight a couple of excellent resources the have emerging from digital accessibility communities via Twitter.

First up, consider the excellent work by Elena Newly (via Twitter @AutismWales) who has worked to provide Easy-Read summaries of all the political Parties’ manifestos. These Easy-Read documents are designed for learning disabled adults and those involved with the LD community. She has also created an Easy-Read Summary of the second TV Leaders’ Debate.

Secondly, consider the election resources available from the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust . This has included a schedule of signed programmes and two key Election broadcasts available online:

The first election special deals with the voting process.

The second election special ‘Your Country Needs You’ focuses on making an informed decision.

If you know of other digital resources I’ve missed, please add a comment below.