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Archive for December, 2009

It was a hectic start to December. From presenting at the ASCILITE conference in Auckland I flew to Sydney to present with colleague, Dr Anna Hickey-Moody from the University of Sydney at the Australian Anthropological Annual Conference held at Macquarie University.

The theme of the conference was the “Ethics of and Politics of Engagement” and the paper we presented was titled the “Ethics of Affect in Second Life” based on our ethnographic research with individuals in Second Life who identify as disabled.

The details of the conference are here: http://www.anth.mq.edu.au/conf/theme/ and you can download the program complete with abstracts: http://www.anth.mq.edu.au/conf/program/AAS2009_program.pdf

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The ASCILITE 2009 conference was held at the University of Auckland from the 6-9th November, 2009. The conference theme  “Same places, different spaces” generated many papers focusing on topics such as blended learning, virtual learning environments, social spaces, mobile and work spaces: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/?m=Programme&s=Themes

I presented a paper based on trials of the use of the 3D virtual world, Second Life, for service learning in which my students undertook projects with disability and health related groups in SecondLife: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/wood.pdf

I also co-presented a co-authored paper with UniSA colleague, Russell Fewster on practice led research in 3D virtual worlds within the performing arts discipline: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland09/procs/fewster.pdf

Student dancer and avatar dancers performing in Second Life

Looking forward to ASCILITE 2010!

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I had the privilege of speaking on the topic of accessibility of social media at the Gov2.0 Roundtable on the 26th of November at Australian Parliament House, Canberra.

Senior government leaders and industry met in Canberra on the 26 November, 2009 to discuss accessibility of government communications services for people with disabilities hosted by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and Senator for the ACT Kate Lundy.

The nation’s key decision makers discussed issues of social inclusion and communications accessibility, the changing role of citizen participation and planning for a more accessible government and was opened by Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Other speakers at the seminar included: Senator Kate Lundy, Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Dr Nicholas Gruen, Chair of the Government 2.0 Taskforce, Graeme Innes AM, Disability Discrimination Commissioner and Abul Rizvi, Deputy Secretary, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The program for the event follows:

Gov2.0 Roundtable on Accessibility for People with Disabilities

9:00    Welcome to Country – Matilda House

9:05    Introduction – Sue Salthouse, ACCAN Board Member and Chair of ACCAN’s Standing Advisory Committee on Disability Issues

9:10    Opening remarks – Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

Availability, Accessibility and Affordability

9:20    Social Inclusion and Communications Accessibility– Graeme Innes AM, Disability Discrimination Commissioner

9:40    The role of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Kevin Cocks, CEO of Queensland Advocacy Incorporated

10:00 Discussion

What is Happening?

10:15   Accessible media developments-Dr. Scott Hollier, Media Access Australia and member of ACCAN’s Standing Advisory Committee on Disability Issues

10:35   Maximising accessibility in communications– Bert Ciavarra Disability Services Coordinator, Telstra

10:55   Indigenous and remote online participation – Heron Loban, Chair of Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network and ACCAN Board member

11:15   Accessibility and social networking tools– Dr Denise Wood, Senior Lecturer, University of South Australia, ACCAN’s Standing Advisory Committee on Disability Issues

11:35   Public procurement in ICT – Gunela Astbrink, Manager, Disability Policy and Research, ACCAN

11:55 Discussion

Where we are Going?

12:15   The changing role of citizen participation – Senator Kate Lundy

12:30   Planning for a more accessible Government – Abul Rizvi, Deputy Secretary, DBCDE

12:40 Discussion

1:00    Closing remarks – Dr Nicolas Gruen, Chair of Gov2.0 Taskforce

1:10    Summary of actions from Roundtable – Allan Asher, CEO, ACCAN

1:25    Close of Roundtable


The full  report of the Gov2.0 task force is now available.

The audio of the Roundtable is now available from Senator Kate Lundy’s website and will be transcribed shortly.

My presentation focused on:

  1. The benefits of social networking and 3D virtual worlds for people with disabilities and those in situations where they find it difficult to interact directly with others on a daily basis;
  2. The challenges imposed by these environments and I will here mention technical issues relating to accessibility; attitudinal barriers; issues relating to regional location and lack of access to affordable bandwidth; responsibilities of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the need for community support services and the need for education;
  3. Some of the initiatives under way to address these challenges, and the barriers that impede these efforts;
  4. The opportunities that Government 2.0 holds if these challenges can be met.

My full report will be available for download from Senator Kate Lundy’s site in the near future.

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