DREAM Researchers Participate in Round-table Discussion on Human Rights and Disability

""DREAM researchers, Ieva Eskyte, Anthony Giannoumis and Magdi Birtha participated in a round-table discussion titled Human Rights and Disability: between choice and control at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas Lithuania on 21st October. The event aimed to facilitate  discussion and raise awareness on the importance of disability studies and disability rights.

The round-table addressed the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities stating,

Since the key message of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) is that disabled people have to exercise all human rights and fundamental freedoms equally with non-disabled citizens, the purpose of the meeting is to discuss disability and human rights issues in different contexts. For instance, different models of disability will be discussed from Scandinavian, British and Lithuanian perspectives. In addition, the relation between accessibility, disability movement and private markets will be analysed. Special attention will be paid to disability research, ethics and methods.

Practitioners, scholars and graduate students from a variety of disciplines presented their professional and academic experiences in the field of disability and human rights.

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The full program included,

  • Welcome &  Some Thoughts about Social Sensitivity, Reciprocity & Dialogue. Dean prof. Jonas Ruškus of Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Vytautas Magnus University, People with Disabilities and the Right to Reveal Potential. Ieva Danilevičienė, Vytautas Magnus University
  • The impact of family and friends social support on accepting mobility impairments. Laura Alčiauskaitė, dr. Liuda Šinkariova, Vytautas Magnus University
  • A comparative case study of e-accessibility policy implementation in the United Kingdom, Norway and the United States. G. Anthony Giannoumis, The Norwegian Social Research Institute
  • Information provision in the mainstream private market: business practices and disabled customers’ realities. Ieva Eskytė, University of Leeds, Centre for Disability Studies, UK
  • Participation of persons with disabilities in policy and decision-making processes. Magdi Birtha, Centre for Disability Law and Policy, National University of Ireland, Galway

DREAM would like to warmly thank the conveners at Vytautas Magnus University for the opportunity to work together in realizing the rights of persons with disabilities.

Somewhere…over the horizon part 1

the 2012 Horizon report cover

The 2012 Horizon Report was recently released by the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. The report highlights emerging technology trends projected to impact education on a global scale.

I’ve personally been following the annual reports for the past four years, and the forward thinking and progressive approach to technology is very encouraging. This is not to say that the “horizon” they point towards is inevitable, but that the reports are informed enough and courageous enough to project a future in an industry where it’s become cliche to describe development as exponential.

The 2012 report projects the following adoption trends:

  • Adoption in 1 year or less
    • Mobile Apps
    • Tablet Computing
  • Adoption in 2 to 3 years
    • Game-based learning
    • Learning analytics
  • Adoption in 4 to 5 years
    • Gesture-based computing
    • Internet of things

Without turning this post into a dissertation, I’d like to toss around some ideas about how these developments may impact the right to education and the right to information for persons with disabilities. This post will be divided into three parts, addressing each of the projections in the report.

In 2012 mobile apps and tablet computing have become emblematic of how we consume, educate, and learn. However mobile apps and tablet computing are part and parcel of the same fundamental accessibility challenge. That is the development of touchscreen interfaces as a popular mode of human computer interface (HCI). This HCI du jour is paradoxical in that it promotes cost efficacy and inclusiveness for certain populations while potentially excluding persons with disabilities such as those who are blind and partially sighted. As educational providers continue to adopt this technology, it is imperative that they evaluate the accessibility of both the device hardware as well as the apps.

It is clear in the development of HCI from the command prompts of MS-DOS to the graphical user interface in early Apple and Microsoft operating systems to the touchscreen  interfaces ubiquitous in mobile devices, that multi-sensory inputs will continue to broaden the widespread appeal of technology while challenging the inclusiveness for persons with disabilities. This provides a clear opportunity for Universal Design in the approach to another Horizon Report projection, the adoption of gesture-based computing in the next four to five years. More on the role of accessibility in gesture-based computing and education in part 3 of this post.