Category: Disability

Disability Research Forum


Two pieces of news today. Firstly, on September 30th I submitted my PhD thesis “Disability 2.0: Student dis/Connections. A study of student experiences of disability and social networks on campus in Higher Education”. As a result, from this point forward I will be showing my blog a little more TLC. However, my second piece of news may distract you from a revived and refreshed 32 Days Remaining! The all *NEW* Disability Research Forum blog now also vies for your attention. I heartily recommend the DRF blog to you for UK disability research news and updates on the Research Forum’s own activities. They are always welcoming to new members, so if you want to present, lead a discussion or simply participate from afar, the blog is a great place to start.

Disability Research Forum 2010-2011


I recently recieved this call on behalf of the Disability Research Forum. They write:

Now into its sixth year, the Disability Research Forum (DRF) continues to foster informal networks of disability scholars and provide researchers with opportunities to present their work in a friendly and encouraging environment. 

Dates for upcoming seminars are below (we have tried to vary the day and time of the meetings to allow a range of people to attend). 

  1. Thurs. 14th October 2010: 11.30am-1.30pm
  2. Mon. 15th November 2010: 12pm-2pm
  3. Tues. 14th December 2010: 12pm-2pm
  4. Tues. 15th February 2011: 1pm-3pm
  5. Fri. 25th March 2011: 11.30am-1.30pm
  6. Tues. 12th April 2011: 2pm-4pm

If you, or anybody you know, would like to present at a DRF seminar please get in touch.  Alternatively, let us know if there is an issue/article/academic book you’d like to facilitate a round table discussion on.   Even if you do not intend to present, feel free to come along, listen and share your thoughts.  

This year we are also planning to hold some seminar-days – details of these will follow shortly  … and remember 14th-15th September 2011 sees the return of the hugely successful ‘Normalcy and the Mundane’ Conference at Manchester Metropolitan University.

These informal seminars are held in Room 10111 (First Floor) Arundel Building, Charles Street, City Campus, Sheffield Hallam University, S1 1WB. 

For lunchtime slots, please feel free to bring your own food and drink.

For more information (including access information) please contact: Dr Rebecca Mallett.

We are always thrilled to have new faces so please spread the word by circulating this as widely as possible – thank-you

Disability Studies Conference 2010 Webcast Programme


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.

Presentations can be viewed live via:  http://www.lancs.ac.uk/iss/digital/disability/. Note: The conference will be broadcast in Flash ‘to maximise browser compatibility’ so it’s time to put down your iPhone.

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

Keywords: Disability, Law, Employment, Rights, Discrimination

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).

Tuesday 7th September: 17:30-18:30. GMT, Liz Crow: Writer, director and producer at Roaring Girl productions

Liz Crow during Plinth Performance
Artist and Activist Liz Crow is pictured during her performance on the Plinth in Trafalgar Square. She wears a Nazi Uniform and is seated in a Wheelchair. This performance highlights the Nazis' Aktion T4 Program, an untold history of the holocaust during which the Nazis developed and deployed the machinery of the holocaust, killing some 275,000 disabled people.

Keywords: Disability, Arts, Film, Drama, History.

Title: “Resistance: transforming the future”.

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.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfswOExefgw]

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.

Wednesday 8th September 9:30-10:30. Ruth Gould: Chief Executive Officer DaDa (Disability and Deaf Arts)

Keywords: Disability, Arts, Deaf, Theatre

Title: “Disability Arts: Ghetto Blasting?”

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.

Thursday 9th September 11:30-12:30. Alana Officer: Coordinator for Disability and Rehabilitation, World Health Organisation

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.

 

W4A 2010 paper wins John Slatin Award


I’m delighted to say that my W4A 2010 paper, co-authored with Brian Kelly and David Sloan, has won the John Slatin award for Best Communication Paper.  The paper, Developing Countries; Developing Experiences: Approaches to Accessibility for the Real World is newly available online via the UKOLN repository.

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?

 

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 192.com 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.

Approaches to accessibility for the real world


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.


W4A Web Accessibility Conference


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.

If you’d like to know more about both Twitter and it’s role in facilitating my collaboration with Brian and David, Brian has blogged about our first virtual meeting.  

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.

Ann Craft Trust call for volunteer Web help


Yesterday I received an email from the Ann Craft Trust, a national UK charity which works to protect disabled children and adults with learning disabilities from abuse.

The Trust undertake vital work, as recent studies have shown that around 60% of adults with learning disabilities have experienced abuse at some point in their lives. There is also strong evidence that disabled children are significantly more likely to be abused than children who are not disabled.

The charity is looking for a web developer with the time and accessible web skills to do a piece of voluntary work, redesigning their website. This will involve creating a new template to tie in with the charity’s new branding. Visit the current Ann Craft Trust website to find out more about the charity and its work.

If you are interested or think you can help, please contact Charlie Heywood the Marketing and Development Officer for the Ann Craft Trust via Charlotte.Heywood@nottingham.ac.uk . Please copy and paste or forward this call to your networks.

<div class=”float-quote alignright”><a href=”http://www.robobraille.org/frontpage”>Robobraille</a> is a free ‘phenomenally powerful resource’. Users send a word processed document to an email address, the document is returned in DAISY format. DAISY, the Digital Accessible Information System, is a format for digital audio books for people who wish to hear and navigate written material presented in an audible format.</div>

Disability Research Forum


*News Flash*

Next week I’ll be opening a round table discussion at Sheffield Hallam’s Disability Research Forum (DRF) on ‘Defining Disability’, specifically I hope this session will help us understand what the process of definition itself does to our understanding. As always, the DRF is free to attend, so if you’re interested  participating you’re very welcome. The location is easily accessible and very close to the central station.  My session follows a presentation by Graham Grace-Gardener (Sheffield Hallam University) entitled ‘Is universal educational inclusion desirable and/or possible?’.  Abstracts are detailed below.

Monday 7th December 2009: 2pm-4pm (Arundel Building 10111, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield)

  •  ‘Is universal educational inclusion desirable and/or possible?’ Paper presentation by Graham Grace-Gardener (Sheffield Hallam University)

The Inclusive Education agenda has hit the hard places, how do we include the children at the extremes of acting out behaviour or those who have severe learning difficulties?  Is universal inclusion possible?  Is it desirable? Who makes these decisions?  What informs these decisions?  Can universal inclusion be obtained in a late capitalist post-welfare society? This paper will be a socio-political discussion of the inclusion agenda informed by the work of Herbert Marcuse. It will try to address whether a one dimensional view of the world, reinforced by globalisation, precludes the change needed to bring about universal inclusive education?  The session will be an informal sharing of initial thoughts around these points.

  • ‘Defining Disability: Using Taxonomies and Facets to understand what categories and definitions do’ Roundtable Discussion led by Sarah Lewthwaite (University of Nottingham)

Governments, legislation and models of disability and each advocate a certain perspective on impairment and disability. Each of these defines disability in its own way, with powerful effects on the lives of disabled people. In this open discussion I would like to introduce some developments from Information Architecture on the problem of category-making and definition to shed light on how definitions work. 

Foucault (1966) identified the ‘invisible power’ of categories, however Bowker and Star (1999) observe that critical discourse has not pursued this analysis. Whilst dominant definitions are challenged and negotiated, the nature of categorisation and its influence is not fully understood. I hope that, during a formative discussion, we can evaluate and identify potentially new approaches to defining disability within research and teaching.

Web 2.0 Accessibility


Last week I blogged about the InterFace Symposium in Southampton. As with many events, the organisers sought to enhance delegate experiences and communities using a mix of social networks and other Web 2.0 tools (a Ning social network, Micro-blogging with Twitter, online publishing with Scribd).  It can be difficult to quickly assess the accessibility of such services and make decisions as to which service is most appropriate – or at least it was until JISC TechDis and Southampton University pulled together to create Web2Access.

Web2Access is a great reference site for anyone wanting to make more informed decisions about applying web 2.0 tools in an accessible way.  The resource allows you to search for information in different ways. You can search by activity (for example, collaborative writing or ) and Web2 Access will then give you a percent score on the success of those applications in accessibility terms. So at time of writing Twitter scores an overall 88% , Accessible Twitter scores 95%, Facebook 69%, Ning 72%.  These ratings are subjecting and based on manual and automatic tests.  If you follow links for each individual service, you can discover more detailed information about how each service scores for users with different disabilities.  Alternatively you can browse by Disability or using the Search box on the website front page.   There are also useful pages describing how the sites listed have been tested, answering Frequently Asked Questions and linking to useful e-Learning resources.

If you are involved in organising teaching and learning and are wanting to make more use of Web 2.0 services in your e-learning activities, or if you are interested in how Web 2.0 can supplement your existing methods, or events in an accessible way, Web2Access provides a rule of thumb for most situations.