To catch up on all the contributions to this great online festival, I urge you to visit the Blogging Against Disablism Day 2012 webpages . There you will find a huge (and still growing) number of thought-provoking articles from across the world. As Goldfish states:
This is the day where all around the world, disabled and non-disabled people blog about their experiences, observations and thoughts about disability discrimination. In this way, we hope to raise awareness of inequality, promote equality and celebrate the progress we’ve made.
Once again, Goldfish has achieved a huge event – managing a great success. Three Cheers for Diary of A Goldfish!!
Our communications paper was written in collaboration. Martyn Cooper (Open University) was lead author, working alongside Brian Kelly (Bath University) David Sloan (Dundee University) and myself. Those of you with sharp memories will know that Brian, David and I worked together on a previous W4A paper, Developing Countries; Developing Experiences: Approaches to Accessibility for the Real World which won the John Slatin award for best communications paper back in 2010. Perhaps interestingly, I still haven’t actually met Brian (or Martyn), but I’m sure that day will come!
“A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Putting People and Processes First” will be publicly available next month. The paper itself argues that web accessibility is not an intrinsic characteristic of a digital resource by highlighting political, social and contextual factors that shape user experiences in combination with technical aspects. As a result, it can be inappropriate to develop legislation or focus on metric that deal with the properties of a resource regardless of context. From this point we describe the value of standards such as BS 8878 and use a case study illustrating how learning analytics could provide data to support the improvement of inclusive learning resources, developing a broader perspective of the resource in-use.
Brian Kelly will deliver a post on the UK Web Focus blog which will discuss these ideas, and the challenges which are presented to legislators, policy makers and practitioners who develop practices based on a view that web accessibility is an intrinsic property of a resource at a later date. Watch that space!
This week the 27th International Technology and Persons with Disabilities (CSUN 2012) conference begins in San Diego. 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 papers will not be available until after event itself. As a result, mine are available here for preview and comment. Hopefully they will be of interest to general accessibility/social media readers as well as delegates. First up (and previously blogged) was: “Peer-to-Peer Accessibility in Social Networks“, a paper for a session that will be exploring how web accessibility can be socially mediated by peers within social networks, using evidence from research with disabled students at UK Universities. Second, a preview of the panel discussion “Does Accessibility have to be Perfect?” has been previewed for discussion over at Henny Swan’s blog. Please head over there and check it out.
Finally, I will be presenting a paper on aspects of the MyUI.eu project. The paper is entitled “Interaction Design for Older People”. Beneath this rather generic title, I will be specifically focussing on the tensions raised by multiple perspectives on disability and aging in interdisciplinary work. The paper’s introduction is reproduced below. A PDF of the full document (approximately 1,000 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.
Interaction Design for Older People
This paper highlights an approach to promoting e-Inclusion which focuses older users in context. It is based on research conducted as part of the user-centred, collaborative work of the MyUI project (Mainstreaming Accessibility through Synergistic User Modelling and Adaptability). The research has raised important conceptual issues during its conduct, particularly regarding the ‘practical ethics’ of modeling disability and age-related impairments. In short, there is no neutral language with which to describe disability [1, 2, 3], as such all research is conducted through a particular ideological lens. In this interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research, the application of critical perspectives, grounded in social theory and disability studies, has offered fresh insight into the conception of impairment and disability amongst the technically-based prerogatives of human factors and HCI research. This paper introduces the MyUI project and the value of applying post-structuralist approaches from critical disability studies for human factors research.
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.
This post is a trailer for a new book ‘Rhetorical AccessAbility: At the Intersection of Technical Communication and Disability Studies’, edited by Lisa Meloncon at the University of Cincinnati. I penned a chapter for this book in collaboration with Henny Swan. Together we consider ‘Web Standards and the Majority World’, taking a socio-cultural look at the values that web standards convey to a global audience. In particular we were interested in examining the ways in which Web Standards can export Minority (that is developed/Northern/post-industrial) notions of disability to the Majority world, with potentially counter-productive results. We make our arguments by attending closely to Web Standards as a form of technical writing through the lens of critical disability studies and research. Disability scholars might be interested to know that aspects of this chapter were informed by MMU’s Disability and the Majority World conference, a recently inaugurated event that seeks to globalize disability studies.
Publishers Baywood have now listed Rhetorical Accessibility as available for pre-order as part of their Technical Communications Series (Edited by series editor Charles H. Sides). The publishers’ book summary follows. Further details (including a table of contents and Author information) will become available from Baywood over the next few weeks via the Rhetorical Accessibility pages.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Rhetorical Accessability is the first text to bring the fields of technical communication and disability studies into conversation. The two fields also share a pragmatic foundation in their concern with accommodation and accessibility—that is, the material practice of making social and technical environments and texts as readily available, easy to use, and/or understandable as possible to as many people as possible, including those with disabilities. Through its concern with the pragmatic, theoretically grounded work of helping users interface effectively and seamlessly with technologies, the field of technical communication is perfectly poised to put the theoretical work of disability studies into practice. In other words, technical communication could ideally be seen as a bridge between disability theories and web accessibility practices.
While technical communicators are ideally positioned to solve communication problems and to determine the best delivery method, those same issues are compounded when they are viewed through the dual lens of accessibility and disability. With the increasing use of wireless, expanding global marketplaces, increasing prevalence of technology in our daily lives, and ongoing changes of writing through and with technology, technical communicators need to be acutely aware of issues involved with accessibility and disability.
This collection will advance the field of technical communication by expanding the conceptual apparatus for understanding the intersections among disability studies, technical communication, and accessibility and by offering new perspectives, theories, and features that can only emerge when different fields are brought into conversation with one another.
Intended Audience: Scholars and practitioners of technical communication, disability studies, rhetoric, and usability/user experience. Suitable for advanced undergraduate and graduate classes in: web design; document design/information design; topics courses in technical communication and disability studies; cultural studies courses in internet or digital culture; introduction to the field of technical communication; research methods; and rhetorical theory.
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.
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.com. 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.
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.
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.
There has been a blogging hiatus here at Lewthwaite Industries, but perhaps with the best reasons. In May I submitted my corrections and in June I joined the pass list, submitting hardbound copies of my thesis in June (with thanks to the excellent Print Quarter in West Bridgford). In July I will be graduating and receiving my PhD. Whilst this has been taking place I’ve been working with Nottingham’s Human Factors Research Group, contributing to the MyUI project, a European project dedicated to developing adaptive interfaces for older users. I’ve also been developing publications from my thesis along with further research options on disability and social networks – but more on both of these developments later. Perhaps most importantly, it’s time to introduce my thesis: “Disability 2.0: Student dis/Connections: a study of student experiences of disability and social networks on campus in higher education”. Here’s the abstract, a slightly expanded version is included on my ‘research’ pages above:
For many young people, social networks are an essential part of their student experience. Using a Foucauldian perspective, this qualitative study explores the networked experiences of disabled students to examine how dis/ability difference is ascribed and negotiated within social networks. Data comprises 34 internet-enabled interviews with 18 participants from three English universities. Accessible field methods recognise participant preferences and circumstances. Data is analysed using discourse analysis, with an attention to context framed by activity theory. Disabled students’ networked experiences are found to be complex and diverse. For a proportion, the network shifts the boundaries of disability, creating non-disabled subjectivities. For these students, the network represents the opportunity to mobilise new ways of being, building social capital and mitigating impairment.
Other participants experience the network as punitive and disabling. Disability is socio-technically ascribed by the social networking site and the networked public. Each inducts norms that constitute disability as a visible, deviant and deficit identity. In the highly normative conditions of the network, where every action is open to scrutiny, impairment is subjected to an unequal gaze that produces disabled subjectivities. For some students with unseen impairments, a social experience of disability is inducted for the first time. As a result, students deploy diverse strategies to retain control and resist deviant status. Self-surveillance, self-discipline and self-advocacy are evoked, each involving numerous social, cognitive and technological tactics for self-determination, including disconnection. I conclude that networks function both as Technologies of the Self and as Technologies of Power. For some disabled students, the network supports ‘normal’ status. For others, it must be resisted as a form of social domination.
Importantly, in each instance, the network propels students towards disciplinary techniques that mask diversity, rendering disability and the possibility of disability invisible. Consequently, disability is both produced and suppressed by the network.
I have a huge list of people to thank for insight and support over the course of my doctoral study – I also have a substantial bibliography (although I’m sure this can only get larger). Danah Boyd already maintains a substantial bibliography of social networking research, and there are significant accessibility reading lists freely available through several institutions – however, I will be developing a ‘disability’ and ‘network’ specific library here at 32 Days over the coming weeks, as this is a literature I’ve received a lot of requests about and I’m sure it will serve other researchers developing the field. I’m currently looking into the best ways to share my work whilst observing copyright obligations for the publications I have in train. Once again, more on that later.