VirtuAssist: increasing the autonomy of persons with cognitive disability in working environments

People with learning difficulties or memory problems face barriers in the working environment because they need extra supervision. New environments, unfamiliar equipment and changing of tasks can be especially challenging.

VirtuAssist provides real-time guidance to operate working equipment so people can work with minimal supervision in these challenging environments. VirtuAssist combines cutting-edge technologies such as computer vision, pointing gesture recognition, machine learning and task modelling with smart-glasses. This personalises information and interaction to the end-user’s needs and preferences in a fun and effective way. 

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The African Disability Rights Yearbook has been published!

The first volume of the African Disability Rights Yearbook has been launched on 5 November 2013 by the Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria. The Yearbook is the first peer-reviewed journal in the African region to focus on issues at the intersection between disability and human rights against the backdrop of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The African Disability Rights Yearbook will be published annually. The Yearbook is available online free of charge at: 

One of the DREAM ESRs, Magdi Birtha (CDLP, NUIG) has a chapter published in this very important publication:

‘Nothing about CRPD monitoring without us’: A case study on the involvement of the disability movement in policy-making in Zambia. 


Zero Project 2014 – Accessibility: Call for nomination of Innovative Policy and Practice

The Zero Project´s mission is to support the rights of persons with disabilities, as stated in the UN Convention adopted on 13 December 2006. Its main activity is to research the most outstanding Innovative Practices and Innovative Policies worldwide by engaging leading experts in the nomination and evaluation process. The selected practices and policies will be presented in the Zero Project Report, on its website and at the Zero Project Conference.

The Zero Project’s research is based, among others, on nominations of both Innovative Practice and Innovative Policy that address the issue of accessibility and persons with disabilities.  Their approach to accessibility is in accordance with Article 9 of the UNCRPD and covers the areas of built environment, access to information and communication, transport, products and services and several others.

The Zero Project will welcome any contributions of Nominations of Innovative Practices and Policies by any person or organization that is interested.

Here is a link to the documents on the Nomination of Innovative Practices and Policies

The procedure that follows the receipt of the nomination is described on the website as well. The deadline to submit nominations is the 19th of August 2013.

Launch of the European collaborative portal on Assistive Technologies and inclusive solutions

ATIS4all logoThere is a growing concern throughout Europe about the difficulties faced by the organisations involved in the ICT Assistive Technology (AT) field. The ATIS4all collaborative portal is the result of an EU-funded project, which aims to benefit all the key actors in the chain value of ICT ATs and accessibility products (from research centres to the end-users). It is an open and collaborative portal that offers reliable information on ICT ATs, inclusive solutions and R&D initiatives, and fosters online discussion, exchange of knowledge, expertise and sharing of information among its different portal members. Continue reading

DREAM Early Stage Researchers presenting at NNDR Conference 2013

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Seven Early Stage Researchers from the DREAM network attended and presented at the Twelfth Nordic Network of Disability Research Conference in Turku, Finland 30-31 May 2013.

Keynote speakers at the conference included Eva Feder Kittay, Professor of Philosophy, Stony Brook University; Dan Goodley, Professor of Disability Studies and Education, University of Sheffield; Jan Grue, Postdoctoral Fellow in Linguistics, University of Oslo, Norway; and Kalle Könkkölä, Executive Director of the Threshold Association, Helsinki, Finland.

Over the two days, the ESRs presented abstracts and posters and got to meet various disability academics from around the world. The following is a list of each ESR and the title of their presentations:

  • Anna Arstein-Kerslake: An empowering dependency: Exploring the role of supported decision-maker.
  • Magdi Birtha: “Nothing about CRPD monitoring without us” – case study on the involvement of the disability movement in policy-making in Zambia.
  • Ciara Brennan: “Theorizing the economics of independent living: Commodification of human rights in Iceland in a Nordic context” with Rannveig Traustadóttir and “The CRPD, independent living and user-led personal assistance”.
  • Ieva Eskyte: Shopping Accessibility: between the ideal and the real.
  • Robert Huffaker: Legal Framework on eAccessibility: A legislation review.
  • Carly Toepke: Participation and inclusive education under the UNCRPD.
  • Betül Yalcin: Employer attitudes towards employment of disabled people: a comparative analysis in the European context.

Rune Halvorson, PI from NOVA, presented “New policies to promote youth inclusion in the labour market? Disability in the Nordic welfare states”.

Rannveig Traustadóttir, PI from the University of Iceland, presented “Implementing and monitoring the CRPD” and “Childhood disability, space, place and identity” and chaired the symposiums titled “Implementing the CRPD” and “Childhood and Disability”.

Survey: Costs and Benefits of eAccessibility

One Early Stage Researcher, Robert Huffaker, has been undertaking a study interviewing companies who make sure their products are accessible, especially their websites, mobile apps, and self-service terminals and gathering data on the costs and benefits they have experienced in the accessibility process.

If you are a web manager who knows a bit about the costs and benefits experienced in your organization’s website, you are invited to take part in his survey.

If you manage websites, the survey for you is here: WebsiteA11yCBA

If you manage mobile apps (iOS, Android, etc), the survey is here:

If you manage a self-service terminal, the survey is here:

It will ask questions about you, your organisation, your website/app/terminal, accessibility and costs and benefits you have experienced. It takes around 20 minutes to complete.

The purpose of this survey is to build the business case of eAccessibility. This study is funded by the Disability Rights Expanding Accessible Markets (DREAM) Marie Curie Training Network and is led by Fundosa Technosite in Madrid, Spain and Kanchi in Dublin, Ireland.

If you have any suggestions or questions, or if you want to see the resulting deliverable stemming from the survey results, you can contact Robert Huffaker at:

r.huffakerjr1 (at)

Launch of Volume 3 of the European Yearbook of Disability Law at the European Parliament


On Tuesday 9th April 2013, the third volume of the European Yearbook of Disability Law was launched at a research colloquium at the European Parliament. The European Yearbook of Disability Law is published by Intersentia .The Yearbook is part of the ongoing research programme of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP) at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) and the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights at Maastricht University. The editors of the Yearbook are Professor Gerard Quinn (Director of the CDLP), Professor Lisa Waddington (who holds the European Disability Forum Chair of European Disability Law at Maastricht University) and Dr. Eilionoir Flynn (Senior Researcher at the CDLP).

The event was co-chaired by Marian Harkin (MEP) and Mairead McGuinness (MEP), who praised the editors for the excellent contribution which the Yearbook is making to the debate on disability issues. The event was well-attended by academics, students and representatives of non-governmental organisations. The keynote address was provided by Anna Lawson, Senior Lecturer at Leeds University, who spoke about the “Role of the Academy in Advancing Positive Reform.” The president of the European Disability Forum, Yannis Vardakastanis, addressed the role of civil society in transforming the research agenda. Gábor Gombos, Adjunct Professor at NALSAR Law University, India and at NUI Galway, concentrated on the role of emancipatory research in future disability policy-making. Professor Lisa Waddington provided a timeline of developments in disability research, in her presentation entitled “The Law Looking Outward:  The Past and Future of Legal Research on Disability in Europe.” In addition, Professor Rannveig Traustadóttir, Director of the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Iceland, addressed the means by which research in the field of social science can be harnessed to inform the research agenda in the disability arena. Finally, Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero, Deputy Head of the Unit for the Rights of People with Disabilities at the European Commission, looked at the perspective of policy-makers and, in particular, the research requirements of the European Commission on the subject of disability. An open Forum was then held on the issue of harnessing scholarship across disciplines to help drive the European reform agenda. The event was closed by the rapporteurs, Professor Quinn and Dr. Flynn. Overall, the event proved to be a huge success. It provoked stimulating discussions among the participants and provided fascinating insights into the past and future of disability research.

Reminder: Invitation to submit articles to the European Yearbook of Disability Law

The editors of the European Yearbook of Disability Law welcome submissions of articles for inclusion in volume 5 of the series. The Yearbook contains a series of articles on current challenges and developments from analysts and academics working in the field of disability law, and is a highly-regarded, peer-reviewed journal in this field.

The Yearbook aims to provide critical insight into the evolution of European disability law and policy and offers analysis of pressing challenges in a broad range of fields. DREAM ESRs are ideally placed to submit articles to the Yearbook, given the Network’s work in the area of European disability law and policy reform in light of the UN CRPD. Previous articles included in the Yearbook have addressed topics such as: reasonable accommodation, inclusive education, digital and telecommunication accessibility, multiple discrimination, the implementation and monitoring of the UN CRPD, and the intersectionality of the UN CRPD, to name but a few areas discussed.

Articles may address for example, aspects of European Union or Council of Europe law, or undertake an analysis of disability law across European countries.

The next deadline for submission of articles is 28 February 2013, with a view to publication at the end of 2013. Authors are encouraged to contact a member of the editorial board to ensure their article falls within the scope of the Yearbook. All suitable articles are subject to peer review. Articles should be between 10 000 to 12 000 words in length, and authors are asked to provide an abstract of 150-200 words. Submission of an article will be taken to mean that the manuscript has not been published, accepted or submitted elsewhere.

If you are interested in submitting an article to Volume 5 of the Yearbook, please contact one of the editors:

Professor Lisa Waddington

Email: lisa.waddington[at]


Dr. Eilionóir Flynn

Email: eilionoir.flynn[at]


Charlotte May-Simera (research assistant)

Email: charlotte.may-simera[at]

Woman With Disability May Be Forced To End Pregnancy

In a case that’s drawing national attention, a court in Nevada may decide whether or not a woman with intellectual disability should continue her pregnancy.

The 32-year-old woman, whose name is being withheld for her privacy, was living in a group home when she became pregnant. It is unknown who the father of the child is, exactly what circumstances surround the baby’s conception or if the woman would like to continue the pregnancy.

Now, a judge is weighing whether or not the woman, who is said to have the mental abilities of a 6-year-old, should be forced to terminate against the wishes of her adoptive parents who are Catholic.

Doctors who testified in court expressed varying opinions about whether or not proceeding with the pregnancy would pose risks to the woman’s health, reports KOLO, the Reno, Nev. ABC affiliate.

Washoe district court_Abortion hearing


Voting Rights and Personal Assistance in Iceland

Thursday 11th October 2012 marked a step forward in civil and political rights for disabled people in Iceland. The Icelandic Parliament voted in favour of an amendment to electoral laws which will enable people to be accompanied by their personal assistant in polling booths. The move follows complaints that disabled people were denied privacy in the Presidential election held in June of this year. Personal assistants were refused access to the polling booths. Instead, people were accompanied by an employee of the polling station. The result was announced at a Conference on the implementation and monitoring of the UN CRPD held in Reykjavik on the same day as the vote.