This week’s accessibility frustration

Adding this to the list of things I can’t access:

Driving Change in the Disability Sector: A multi-disciplinary symposium

The topic of inclusion is a concept that has many faces, many interpretations and although controversial, may in some instances be an intended disguise for exclusion.

This symposium approaches the notion of inclusion, in relation to the participation of people with disability from a variety of perspectives. This symposium is designed to engage you in rigorous debate, confront our notions of inclusion and lead to initiating change in the disability sector.

We welcome your participation and extend an invitation to you to what will be a lively and thought provoking experience.

I wrote to the organisers asking about tele-access and explaining my reason, and I got a shoulder-shrug and an “Our budget doesn’t stretch to that” in return. Not so much as a “sorry”. Exactly the same as I got last time I asked the University of Western Australia Institute of Advanced Studies about this issue.

The one-hour public lecture will apparently be online at some point.

This says to me that people with disabilities are part of the passive, silent, listening “public”, but they’re not welcome as part of discussing possible solutions to accessibility issues, if involving them costs actual money or time or energy or creative thought.

The flyer lovingly details the qualifications of all of the speakers, but gives no indication of whether any of them have disabilities themselves – as though that is of no importance or significance. It all gives the impression of being a bunch of “experts” talking about people with disabilities.

This is fucked up. And in a symposium that is claiming to be about rigorously confronting difficult issues of access and inclusion, it is multiply fucked up.

[more conversation on the issue is happening here.]



Categories: education

Tags: , , ,

13 replies

  1. Haven’t they heard of Ustream.TV? They could stream the lecture and have a live chat going for the price of a laptop with a webcam connected and a mobile internet connection, or a long phone line to the nearest broadband connection?
    If geeks can do this from their loungerooms, why can’t a disability organisation?

  2. L
    You are rightly peeved, and IAS UWA deserves to be outed as hypocrites.
    Hmmm. No “WCAG 1.0 A” tag on their webpage about this conference either! If UWA were serious about accessibility issues, they’d know of the minimum requirement, have tested, and proudly wave the flag showing how much they really care. (If you aren’t the geek tigtog is, then ask her about W3 WAI and the “seal of approval” icon you can use if you are doing the right thing).
    Ironic given the title of the free public lecture running with the symposium is “Disability and Digital Cultures: Brave New Worlds, or Just New Forms of Injustice?”
    I guess you’ve provided the answer to the question Goggin poses in that lecture!

  3. The website designers’ accessibility statement is here.
    I can’t fault it from here, with images/javascripts/frames turned off, but I can’t test it fully.

  4. David: that was my thought. It seems to me that there are multiple relatively low-tech and very low-expense (given the current university facilities) ways of reaching out here.

  5. It all gives the impression of being a bunch of “experts” talking about people with disabilities.
    Exactly. They can talk about people with disabilities, and yet some people who have disabilities cannot access the damn thing? *facepalm*

  6. It’s not just insensitive, it’s incompetent.

  7. (If you aren’t the geek tigtog is, then ask her about W3 WAI and the “seal of approval” icon you can use if you are doing the right thing).

    Actually, Dave, Lauredhel’s geek cred in general far outstrips mine. She was faffing about with computers long before I was. I’m slightly more of a web-head regarding CSS, which is why I do the coding for the blog, but that’s it.

  8. Just playing Devil’s advocate here, but in the universities I have worked in, it can take up to a year and massive struggles to get any sort of new IT into the university’s repertoire. It’s just one of many basic necessities which are broken in the university system. You should be blaming the government for starving the universities of money for basics. When I organised an academic conference last year, on my own campus, and requested a videoconference for a speaker who couldn’t get here (from Harvard) at the last minute, I was told I would have to pay $1200 to make it happen, so it didn’t.
    I also had a student who broke his leg and could not get to campus halfway through last semester. Although we worked something out for coursework, I asked E&A to get him to the EXAM in a taxi, which they could not do because they hadn’t enough money. In the end I went to his suburb and administered the exam in a room at the local library.
    I’m not saying the situation is acceptable but I do think it’s probably not fair to blame the organisers, who probably have a budget of next to nothing to work with.

  9. I suspect it’s more the offhand shoulder-shrug response which is so infuriating for Lauredhel. It’s certainly what prompted my “incompetent” label. Everybody can understand budgetary constraints, but that doesn’t mean that the organisers shouldn’t be acknowledging the unfortunate irony of the situation and making an apology even if they can’t afford to make amends.

  10. At the very least they shouldn’t be making PWD feel like they’re being a huge burden simply for asking about accessibility!
    Fire Flys last blog post..Warning! The new WordPress feature is utter trollbait

  11. This particular university has had (for a few years now) a large number of venues already wired for lecture streaming, quite a few wireless hotspots, and a good-sized and active IT department. It is the premium university in this State.
    And yes, an apology and an expression that they wish to and will strive to improve things would be nice. It’s not the first time I’ve asked this question.
    I’m a triple alumnus of this university now, and the last few years of my most recent degree, after I got sick, were an ongoing struggle with the system. In the end I depended on the goodwill of individual lecturers who were willing to work with me. Those lecturers, including Tama who writes Ponderance (linked to in post), did a fantastic job and I thank them.
    Raspberries to the lecturers who refused point blank to work with me and whose classes (which I was very interested in) I had to write off. The attitude problem might not be universal, but it’s certainly there.
    I’m now trying to take part in university activities as an alumnus (and potential postgraduate student), but nobody’s interested so far in inclusion. And – frankly – I get _tired_. Very very tired of having to disclose and educate and advocate for myself over and over and over again in the same ways against the same clueless attitudes. Maybe I could wrestle some seminars into grudgingly providing access, with weeks and weeks of agitating, maybe I couldn’t, but the efforts all take up spoons I don’t have.
    Lauredhels last blog post..Kidblogging: Things the Lad has done in the past year

  12. And – frankly – I get _tired_. Very very tired of having to disclose and educate and advocate for myself over and over and over again in the same ways against the same clueless attitudes.

    I hear you.

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