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.
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: slewth.co.uk. 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.
For the first time, the 2010 biennial 5th International Disability Studies Conference will broadcast their keynote speakers between the 7th – 9th September, 2010. This conference, held in the UK in alternate years with the Nordic Network on Disability Research, is arguably Europe’s foremost conference on disability studies, so the opportunity to view from afar is very welcome.
In this post, I introduce speakers and their presentation times. This information is available via the conference website, however, as the conference pages do not link to external websites, and information about the speakers and their topics are listed across different media, for my own benefit I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing, linking and extending speaker information here. Please note, all links open in a new window. All times given are British Summer Time (GMT +1 hour).
Tuesday 7th September: 11:30-12:30 GMT. Caroline Gooding: Equality Consultant and Special Adviser to RADAR
Title: “Will the new equality duty deliver progress for disabled people?”
Abstract: Great claims were made for the disability equality duty when it was introduced in 2005. The race, disability and gender equality duties share a common ambition to root out institutional discrimination and change the culture of public sector organizations. Each of the three equality duties was framed slightly differently, with the disability equality duty having a greater emphasis on the involvement of disenfranchised groups and a clearer delineation of what improved equality would mean.There were some initial indications that the disability duty had begun to deliver on its ambitious agenda. However, the duties rely on the Equality and Human Rights Commission for effective enforcement. The operational difficulties experienced by that body, coupled with its failure to provide a unifying understanding of equality for the different groups with which it is concerned, appears to have led to a faltering in the momentum.The introduction through the Equality Act 2010 of a unified equality duty extending to sexual orientation, age and religion and belief presents a new challenge for those working to promote disability equality, with concerns that it waters down the overall requirements placed on public bodies, and fails to clearly reflect the distinctive barriers confronting disabled people.
Caroline is a long term disability rights activist and for more than ten years was Chair of the Trade Union Disability Alliance. She was formerly Director of Diversity Works for London, and Special Advisor to the Disability Rights Commission where she led on the Disability Equality Duty, Goods and Services and Legislative Change. She is qualified and has practiced as a solicitor. Her publications include:
Disability Rights in Europe, from theory to practice Essays in European Law (2005);
Blackstone’s Guide to the Disability Discrimination Act (1995);
Enabling Acts Disabling Laws, Disability Rights in Britain and the United States (1994).
Abstract: In this seminar, Liz will talk about her work and discuss what it means to create new cultural representations of disability as a tool for change.
Liz is a writer-director working with film, audio and text. Interested in drama, life stories and experimental work, she is drawn to the potential of storytelling to trigger change. Described as “a director of real visual flair”, her work has been praised for its ability “to get under the skin of a subject”. Liz’s work has shown at Tate Modern and the British Film Institute, as well as on television and at festivals internationally. Through a four-year NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) fellowship, she explored ways to combine her creative practice and political activism. Liz is a graduate of the Skillset Guiding Lights scheme where she was mentored by Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty).
Liz is perhaps most famous for her performance on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, as part of Anthony Gormley’s One and Other project. The Guardian’s Top 10 From Trafalgar list, cites Liz’s protest as amongst the highlights. A film about Liz’s performance is linked below. You can also watch Liz’s hour on the Plinth in full via the British Library Archive.
EtCetera Issue 483 summarises the performance eloquently if you want to read about Liz and the Fourth Plinth. Writer Allan Sutherland says “Many of the plinthers have used their hour to espouse favourite causes, be it children’s charities, bee preservation or understanding of chess. But few if any have produced a piece of work as compelling as this, which will undoubtedly remain one of the most significant contributions to Gormley’s project. Apart from the importance of the content, it presented a series of memorable images, carefully choreographed to take advantage of space and time.
Abstract: Disability and Deaf arts are a way of promoting not only ‘arts for art’s sake’, but also to allow deeply held issues from the lives and experiences of disabled and deaf
people to be articulated and expressed through creative means. In an ever changing society, and one where social inclusion has been heralded as an achievement towards a more ‘culturally diverse’ Britain, the contribution of disabled and deaf communities have arguably not been elevated to the same level as other groups. In this talk, we will touch on such things as where it has the ‘movement’ come from, what has been its impact, who are its audiences and more significantly, where is it going?
“Deaf and Disability Arts are important because they allow us to make others think in a different way, breaking through perceptions and stereotypes in order to affirm our place in society.”
Ruth trained in performance arts, speech & drama, dance and mime at Liverpool Theatre School. Ruth has led workshops in Mime, Movement and Drama, and developed full-scale theatre productions. From 1992 Ruth has worked in arts administration and management including; business development for artists in the Creative Industries sector, managing start-up funds for artists, developing Disability Arts projects, and now, CEO of DaDa.
Ruth is passionate about Disability and Deaf arts being celebrated as cultural diversities in their own right. Ruth is also a board member of Liverpool 2008 Culture Company, Vice Chair of The Bluecoat Arts Centre, a council member with Arts Council England North West and co-opted Member of National Liverpool Museums Public Services Committee.
Wednesday 8th September 13:30-14:30. Adolf Ratzka: Activist for Independent Living
Keywords: Disability, Independent Living, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, policy
Title: “Beyond the Social Model of Disability: An emphasis on disabled peoples’ status as citizens and consumers is needed for self determination and full participation”.
Abstract: The success of disabled peoples’ struggle for self-determination and equal participation in society will ultimately depend on the model of disability to which disabled people themselves and society at large subscribe to. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other policy documents emphasize disabled peoples’ status as citizens. Adding the perspective of disabled people as consumers of services implies policies that use cash payments and demand-driven competitive markets for services where previously supply-driven government or quasi-public monopolies for services in kind existed. These developments will increase many disabled peoples’ freedom of choice and opportunities for self-determination and participation.
Adolf Ratzka is an internationally renowned activist for independent living. He is known for leading the Swedish Independent Living movement. He set up the pilot project on personal assistance, which was to become the model for the Swedish Personal Assistance Act of 1994. The then Minister of Social Affairs, Bengt Westerberg, invited Adolf to Parliament when the Act made into law. Adolf was the founding chair of ENIL, the European Network on Independent Living, which works for disabled citizens’ personal and political power, for self-determination and against discrimination.
In 1999 he was recognized by TIME magazine as European visionary for the new millennium, mainly for his pioneering work for cash payments replacing services in kind thereby promoting disabled people’s right to self-determination and freedom of choice. Adolf received the European Citizen Award from the European Anti-Discrimination Council in 2008. Also in November 2008 he led an international conference to celebrate twenty-five years of independent living in Sweden.
Keywords: Disability, policy, research, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, international development,
Title: Research and policy working together to improve the lives of disabled people worldwide
Abstract: Disability studies, which emerged from the disabled people’s movement, values engagement and praxis. Yet does it reflect the needs and priorities of the millions of disabled people in the world? Does it provide evidence of what works in policy and practice? The World Health Organization, in partnership with the World Bank, is developing the first ever global report on the situation of disabled people. The World Report on Disability aims to provide governments and civil society with a comprehensive description and analysis of the importance of disability, to characterize the responses currently provided, and to make recommendations for action consistent with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The available scientific evidence suggests that disability studies is far from achieving its potential, particularly in developing countries. This talk will highlight how the CRPD provides an agenda for action, explain why the ICF offers a way forward for applied research and look at how together, we can make a difference.
Alana Officer is a native of New Zealand. She holds a diploma in Applied Science (Podiatric Medicine) from the Institute of Technology in Sydney, Australia; a Master’s degree in Applied Science (research) from the University of Sydney, Australia; and a Masters degree in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Prior to joining WHO in July 2006, Ms Officer held a number of technical and managerial positions working on disability, rehabilitation and development in West and Central Africa, Europe, South Asia and the Western Pacific. Ms Officer was the Country Director for Handicap International (HI) in India.
Alana Officer joined WHO in July 2006, and is now Coordinator for the Disability and Rehabilitation Team. She oversees WHO’s work on disability and rehabilitation related to policies, medical care and rehabilitation, community-based rehabilitation, assistive devices and technologies, and capacity building. She is the executive editor of the World report on disability and rehabilitation due for release in 2009.
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.
Here’s my final offering, part 2 of ‘Ways to Attend a Conference for Less’. If you think I’ve missed something, or you have additions to make – please add your thoughts via comments. Contributions are more than welcome!
7. Be a Rapporteur
A rapporteur is a person appointed to investigate an issue or situation and report back to the appointing organisation. If you know of NGOs, charities, departments, committees, associations and agencies in your field that may be interested in a national event you are targeting, contact them directly. State that you are planning to attend Conference X and ask whether they would be interested in your acting as a rapporteur for them and – if so – whether the organisation would be able to supplement your attendance. It is highly unlikely that the organisation will pay your registration costs (they would most likely send their own people), however, you may be able to negotiate all or part of your travel costs in return for a report on the conference that pays close attention to the particular interests of your new sponsor.
Note: This is by no means an easy way to bring down your conference costs, as it requires careful organisation. As with ‘Be a Journalist’ (below) you may want to consider having a CV to hand, with proof of writing experience to demonstrate you have the skills necessary. Also, you will need to make sure that the conference sessions that you are interested in will be commensurate with the interests of the organisation sponsoring you.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you are supplying a professional service to your sponsor. Your note-taking will need to be of a high-quality, and you may need to dedicate substantial time to writing-up your report. On the other hand, this could be an excellent way of introducing yourself to potential sponsors (employers?!) and proving yourself to be both useful and professional.
8. Be a Volunteer
Those of you paying attention will have spotted the great Comment contributions from Karen about volunteering at conferences. Volunteering may ensure you can attend a conference for free, or at a reduced rate. This point merges with the next, but note that being a volunteer need not be the experience of a general dogsbody. If a conference is not delivered by an Events Management Company, there should be opportunities available.
9. Be a Conference Organiser
Closely linked to Volunteering, this Conference Organisation also recognises the value in getting involved in a conference at a more formative level. Routes into conference organisation may come for students in the form of Post-Graduate conferences, local Research Networks, or larger conferences organised within your department or by colleagues in your field. Unconferences offer another way in, for those wanting to get their hands dirty (thanks again to Karen on this!).
Organisational committees usually require regular meetings to arrange and discuss the finer points of organisation. If you are a post-graduate student, your role may depend on the networks you are involved in, or simply how pushy/assertive you are. You may be representing your host institution, relaying information or working to represent and involve your peers. If you are not a departmental or business insider with funds to deploy, remember you may have leverage in terms of your own expertise (Accessibility? Technology? Education? Other?) and your access to contributions ‘in-kind’. There are particular aspects of support that all conferences require, including helping hands to promote the event to relevant communities, Referees to gauge and review the quality of papers submitted, and session Chairs who introduce speakers, co-ordinate questioning and ensure that presentation slots run to time.
10. Be Self-Employed
Becoming self-employed is a significant step that should not be taken lightly. In effect you are setting up a small business which will entail managing your tax return, record keeping and invoicing amongst other things. However, as a freelancer [registered sole-trader] in the UK I’m able to offset business expenses against tax. Conferences, travel and subsistence (meals and overnight accommodation) make up part of my business expenses. Clearly there’s a balance to be struck here – as to claim for expenses you need to ensure enough taxable income to make this viable.
Substantial Freebies are relatively rare. Many conferences include a ‘goodie bag’ containing a memory stick with the conference proceedings therein, a journal or two and some note paper. However more notable Goodies do exist. Were you thinking of buying an iPad? Maybe you should’ve registered for this year’s Handheld Learning Conference . At between £495-£595.00, their early-bird registration is steep – but it includes a free iPad and a £100 voucher for the Game Based Learning Conference. Double trouble!
12. Attend Remotely
Attending a conference remotely is an increasingly viable option as conferences become ‘amplified’. Whilst conferencing from the comfort of your own home or place of work might not be as glamorous as jetting to distant climes for cocktails and parallel sessions, it’s difficult to find a more convenient option. Where else can you watch presentations in your pyjamas? Don’t answer that.
The term ‘amplified events’ was coined to describe ways in which networks and related technologies are being used to enhance the impact of, and access to, discussions and learning at events such as scholarly conferences.
Amplified events may make use of Twitter (as an event ‘back channel’), Slideshare (making presentation slides available), social networks, live video streaming, downloadable video and event ‘hashtags’ to allow content to be easily found. Blogrolls may combine all the online commentary posted after an event offering a ‘digested read’ of key speakers and sessions. From this point it’s increasingly possible to follow up such leads online, making connections with delegates without attending in person. Some events take place entirely within virtual spaces (although I must admit, my SecondLife avatar is getting a little dusty). Moreover, even those events that are not formally represented online may have been compromised by rogue Tweeters; counter-surveillance and wi-fi lock-down not withstanding. Read more about the benefits of amplified events on Brian Kelly’s blog
If you are unable to attend for any reason, developing your own strategies for navigating multi-media coverage makes observation and interaction possible. I increasingly find that tracking hashtags for key conferences in my field allows me to extend my Twitter network to incoporate new people that I might never have otherwise discovered. Of course, there are other benefits. For example, last year the Handheld Learning Conference 2009 made many of their presentations available to watch online and download via iTunes. This meant I was fortunate to be able to listen to a keynote by the Great Ray Kurtzweil whilst washing up with my Ipod in my pocket. This allowed me to multi-task though chores and with my work schedule unaffected. Listening to and viewing presentations in this way later informed my blog post about the conference’s inclusion strand.
As I veer wildly towards the close of my PhD and the conference season heaves into view, I’ve become aware that I’ve gained a lot of knowledge regarding the logistics and financing of conference attendance that other might find useful. For the average student or early career researcher conferences represent a double bind. Often you simply can’t afford to go. But more often you can’t afford not to.
Conferences are valuable for airing your research and gaining expert feedback, building the contacts and networks that help forge the precious academic reputations that often lead to publications and employment. Conferences also often give you social access to the Big Names you’ve been reading as well as a sense of community within your discipline – this can be particularly important for PhD students in the arts and social sciences, where research can be a lonely business.
In this post, I’m aware that – to a certain extent – I will be delivering a backstage view of hacks I’ve used. This is a no-holds-barred account of what I have done previously to get in to conferences where cost has been the bottom line. It’s not all pretty, although I like to think this demonstrates some of the tenacity and determination.
If you have any additions to this list, please post them as comments – it would be great to hear your thoughts. 6 more cost-cutters to follow next week….
1. Pick Your Conference
When choosing what conferences to attend, there are various internal equations you will need to complete relating to the reputation of the conference, it’s projected audience, distance, size and so on. There are certain trends in these factors that the discerning delegate-wannabe will want to note, for example, industry conferences tend to cost more; postgraduate and not-for-profit conferences, substantially less. Other factors may depend on the number of ‘star’ (read: ‘expensive’) speakers, sponsors backing the event, the calibre of the venue and disciplinary culture. You need to investigate this to find what is viable for you. Here are two further tips:
Factor in Transport and Accommodation Transport and accommodation can be huge financial commitments. Fortunately, many conference organisers are aware of this – leading sometimes to counter-intuitive outcomes. For example, I have found it cheaper to attend conferences in Norway and Sweden than in my home country of the UK. This has been true when I have benefited from lower Nordic registration prices, favourable exchange rates, budget flights, and cheaper accommodation. Another tip for Swedish conferences is pack your swimmies, every hotel has a sauna. For great tips of cheaper travel and accommodation visit moneysavingexpert.com, I’ve also benefited from TripAdvisor’s reviews, which frequently help discern better budget accommodation.
Let the conference to come to you Whilst some routes and destinations are cheaper than others, remember that many international conferences tour like the royal courts of old. If you break the bank to attend a conference in a far flung and exotic location, be prepared for the next years’ expo to roll onto your doorstep. Some major conferences purposefully alternate continents, if you can catch them whilst they’re close, you will save money, time and carbon.
2. Be an Early Bird
First thing’s first, if you’re able to plan ahead, you will benefit. Early conference registration can frequently result in substantial savings as many conferences offer an ‘Early Bird Discount’, this early registration allows the organisers to better gauge projected numbers and marketing and can save you approximately 20% on registration fees.
3. Be a Student
Some, but not all, conferences offer student discounts – however, these can be poorly signposted. If you are a student, be sure to check if a discount is offered – contact the conference organisers directly if no discount is offered.
As a student you may also be eligible to for a grant or bursary to attend. Again, these are not always brilliantly advertised. It could be a line of text on the website, or even an unspoken understanding. I’ve found this to be particularly true of Scandinavian countries.
Finally, this might sound extreme, but if you are self-employed, or a freelancer, the savings to be made through student status (and via education discounts on software etc) may actually mean it is worth taking on part-time study.
4. Be a Member
In many academic fields leading conferences are organised by associations. Association membership may get you a cheaper ticked at registration. It may also come with added benefits in terms of a journal subscription, discussion list access, and/or professional newsletter. In my experience, membership is often far less than the saving you will make on the conference fee. Moreover, many memberships are themselves discounted to students, unwaged and other groups.
5. Be a Presenter
Presenting, unfortunately, does not necessarily imply that you will get any concession on conference registration or fees unless you are a keynote speaker. Some conferences will bank upon the fact that many delegates will attend because they are presenting.
However, your own organisation or institution may have funding for you to present at a conference. At the University of Nottingham for example, funding is available from both departments and the Graduate School. Investigate what awards are available and plan strategically where the money will be best spent. You may also be eligible for a grant from another independent body or a research council if you have a studentship.
Further to this, look beyond the conference. If you intend to present – can you expand your trip to include other presentation opportunities. For example, presenting your research to businesses, universities, NGOs or government in the same area? These organisations may pay, or offer to supply travel costs or a maintenance allowance that makes the conference viable. Obviously this takes planning, but if you’re planning on going a long way, it makes sense to make the most of your trip.
6. Be a Journalist
If you’re confident of your writing skills and/or have any articles to prove your journalistic abilities, consider your target conference with an editor’s eye. Are there any Keynote or visiting speakers who might be news worthy? If so, it’s likely that Press will be there. As an expert and insider in the field, you are well placed to offer your services to any interested publishers. For example, in 2007 I interviewed Dr Peter Norvig for Custom PC. Norvig is Google’s Director of Research, he was visiting the UK for a keynote at the Association for Learning Technology conference. I interviewed him on the final day of the conference, having been queued up behind the BBC. Alongside the benefits of professional writing and publishing, my editor ensured I had a press pass, meaning I could sidestep the not-insignificant conference fee of £495. Really, it’s worth a try.
Since the UKOLN repository is a resource, rather than a discussion space, Brian has also provided an overview of the paper on his blog encouraging feedback and comments. Please feel free to contibute your comments. As Brian notes, aspects of the paper have garnered a lot of interest and we will be taking this forward, specifically in the provision of ‘amplified events’. Alongside this I hope to introduce a more precise analysis of disability as a cultural artifact in the context of accessibility. Can we export ‘Developed World’ accessibility whilst understanding disability as a social phenomenon? Can impairments and disabilities that differ between cultures be addressed apolitically, in the same way?
Yesterday was the first day of the Web 4 All interdisciplinary conference on Accessibility. David Sloan presented a joint paper written by myself and Brian Kelly. Although watching from afar, resources and connections are beginning to spin out of the event – even for those of us in different time-zones. David has posted his presentation slides on Slideshare, you can view them below, or alternatively, visit David’s slideshare page and view the slides with text equivalent.
On Monday the 7th Internation Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility begins in Raleigh, USA. This year’s conference theme is Developing Regions: Common Goals, Common Problems?. I’m pleased to say that a paper I’ve co-written with Brian Kelly (UKOLN, University of Bath) and David Sloan (Digital Media Access Group, School of Computing, University of Dundee) has been accepted for the conference. David will be presenting the paper on Monday 26th April at 11am (4pm GMT). I’ll link to our paper ‘Developing Countries; Developing Experiences: Approaches to Accessibility for the Real World’ as and when it becomes available following the conference.
If you’d like to follow the conference remotely, consider using micro-blogging site Twitter or Accessible Twitter, either as a registered user or bystander. I’ll be following David’s reports over the course of the W4A Web Accessibility Conference at @sloandr, as well as Brian’s during the parallel WWW conference via @briankelly.
Otherwise, you may have noticed it’s been pretty quiet here at Lewthwaite Towers as I press on with my PhD and complete my ‘Exploring Disability History’ teaching at Sheffield Hallam University. The last two months have been hugely rewarding, hopefully I’ll be putting more into the public domain over the next few weeks – not least because May 1st is Blogging Against Disablism Day! If you’d like to actively take part in this great online festival, be sure to visit the brilliant Diary of a Goldfish.