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Recommended read: Lewthwaite, Sarah (2011) Disability 2.0, student dis/connections: a study of student experiences of disability and social networks on campus in higher education. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

Abstract: 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.

More than 100 teachers from across Europe participated in the SMILE (Social Media in Learning and Education) action and undertook a pedagogical journey to explore jointly the challenges and opportunities involved when using social media in learning and education.

The outcomes of the project, funded by a Digital Citizenship Research Grant from Facebook, are now published in a digital handbook. You can find pedagogical materials and resources from the learning laboratory with many valuable reflections and suggestions on some critical aspects of the use of social media as regards school policies, pedagogical principles, professional development, responsible use and challenges to adoption.

Unfortunately, the accessibility aspect was entirely ignored in this project. Improving the Accessibility of Social Media in Government is an excellent article that does address accessibility concerns of social media.

Have you ever observed how people with disabilities are experiencing your content on social media? Is someone who uses a screen reader or other assistive technology able to understand your content on Twitter or Facebook? Following video is a 20-minute sprint where you’ll learn specific tips for making your social media content more accessible. The video goes through tools and tactics you can use to help make sure your social media engagements are readable for all your communities.
Presenter: Scott Horvath, USGS
Produced by DigitalGov University, an initiative of the General Services Administration.
Source: DigitalGov University

Don’t forget to follow us now also on our Facebook page.

Facebook opening page AccessForAll

Facebook opening page AccessForAll

Using social media is for everyone, also for people with disabilities. However, many accessibility issues arise, which were strikingly discussed in the presentation “Social Media Accessibility: Where Are We Today? A modest attempt at awaking the giants” by Denis Boudreau at CSUN 2012.

Media Access Australia now released a nice list of guidelines how a person with disabilities can use YouTube (guidelines) , Twitter (guidelines) and Facebook (guidelines).

The http://www.facebook.com/Aegis.Accessible page is the place to be the next 3 days when you want to follow live the progress of the AEGIS Conference and Workshop on 28-29-30 November 2011 in Brussels, Belgium.

The event will bring together both end-users (people with disabilities) as well as platform and application accessibility developers, representative organisations, the Assistive Technology industry, and policy makers.

Since 2008, the AEGIS consortium (comprising companies such as Vodafone Foundation, Research in Motion, Oracle, and research groups from Cambridge University and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, etc.) has been developing an Open Accessibility Framework – comprising open accessibility interfaces, user interface components, developer tools, end-user applications and prototype accessibility solutions for desktops, rich Internet applications and mobile devices.

The workshop on 28 November will focus on the realisations of the AEGIS (Open Accessibility Everywhere: Groundwork, Infrastructure, Standards) project and provide attendees the opportunity to try out all outcomes of the project. The demonstrated products offer barrier-free access to desktop, mobile and web applications, are open source based and will be freely available.

The conference on 29-30 November will gather a wide array of experts and users in the area of Assistive Technology to discuss scientific and policy developments in accessible technology; showcase relevant projects and initiatives in the area of assistive technology.

The event is free of charge, and registration is open for everyone, but space is limited. For that reason, registrations will remain pending until you receive a confirmation.

Both events take place at the Diamant Conference and Business Centre, Boulevard A. Reyerslaan 80, 1030 Brussels.

This event comes ahead of the European Day of People with Disabilities that is marked by the European Commission via a policy conference (1-2 December 2011), in close cooperation with the European Disability Forum (EDF).