Archive for the ‘Disability Studies’ Category

Following the training sessions in Tzaneen I flew to Port Elizabeth and then travelled to Grahamstown to present a paper titled “Inclusive education: A “virtual” reality?” at the Higher Education Close Up Conference held at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa where the Higher Education Close-up Conference was held from 11-13th July 2012

Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa where the Higher Education Close-up Conference was held from 11-13th July 2012

My paper drew on the work of Sheehy (2008) in exploring the potential of innovative pedagogical practices through emergent technologies such as 3DVLEs in challenging existing educational structures and the perpetuation of ‘social hierarchies and inequalities ‘ (Allan, 2004, p. 428). The paper focused more specifically on inclusive education as it pertains to students with disabilities and aimed to problematise the categorisation of disability.  Drawing on Hickey-Moody and Wood’s (2008, 2010) reconceptualisation of disability through a Deleuzian lens, the paper deconstructed the normal/abnormal; able bodied/disabled binaries that are either sustained or challenged through pedagogical practices in virtual learning spaces.

References used in my presentation included:

Allan, J. (2004). Deterritorializations: Putting postmodernism to work on teacher education and inclusion. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 36(4), 417-432.

Armstrong, D., Spandagou, I., & Armstrong, A. C. (2008). One nation globalization and inclusive education. Paper presented at the AARE 2008 International Education Research Conference, Brisbane.

Bradley, D., Noonan, P., Nugent, H., & Scales, B. (2008). Review of Australian higher education: Final report. Retrieved 19 June, 2011, from, www.deewr.gov.au/he_review_finalreport

Creagh, T. A., Nelson, K. J., & Clarke, J. A. (2011). Acknowledging social justice and equity through good practice for monitoring student learning engagement in FYE. Paper presented at the 14th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference, Freemantle, WA.

Deleuze, G. (1994). Difference and Repetition (trans. Paul Patton). New York: Colombia University Press.

Elliott, A. (2010). Equity, pedagogy and inclusion. Harnessing digital technologies to support students from low socio-economic backgrounds in higher education. Community Informatics: A Global d-Journal, 6(3).

Gaad, E. (2011). Inclusive Education in the Middle East. New York and London: Routledge.

Gregory, B., Gregory, S., Wood, D. et al (2011). How are Australian higher education institutions contributing to change through innovative teaching and learning in virtual worlds? In G. Williams, P. Statham, N. Brown & B. Cleland (Eds), Changing Demands, Changing Directions. Proceedings of the 28th Annual ASCILITE Conference, Hobart, Tasmania, 475-490.

Gregory, S., Lee, M., Ellis, A., Gregory, B., Wood, D., Hillier, M., Campbell, M., Grenfell, J., Pace, S., Farley, H., Thomas, A., Cram, A., Sinnappan, S., Smith, K., Hay, L., Kennedy-Clark, S., Warren, I., Grant, S., Craven, D. and Dreher, H. (2010). Australian higher education institutions transforming the future of teaching and learning through virtual worlds. In C.H. Steel, M.J. Keppell, P. Gerbic & S. Housego (Eds.), Curriculum, technology & transformation for an unknown future. Proceedings of the 27th Annual ASCILITE Conference, Sydney.

Hickey-Moody, A. and Wood, D. (2010). Ethics in Second Life: Difference, desire and the production of subjectivity. In C.Wankel.and S. Malleck (eds.) Emerging Ethical Issues of Life in Virtual Worlds. Charlotte, NC:  IAP – Information Age Publishing, Inc, pp. 169-191.

Hickey-Moody, A. and Wood, D. (2008). Virtually sustainable: Deleuze & desiring differenciation in Second Life. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 22(6), pp. 805-816. Routledge, London.

James, R., Bexley, E., Anderson, M., Devlin, M., Garnett, R., Marginson, S., & Maxwell, L. (2008). A review of the participation in higher education of people from low socioeconomic backgrounds and Indigenous people. Report prepared for Universities Australia by the Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne. Retrieved 15 June, 2011, from,

Transforming Australia’s Higher Education System. (2009). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Retrieved 15 June, 2011, from, http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report. (2010). Retrieved 15 June, 2011, from, http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Status of Signatories and Parties. (2011). A/RES/61/106 Chapter IV (15).

United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Status of Signatories and Parties. (2011). Doc.A/61/611.

Willems, J. (2009). Different spaces but same places: Possibilities, pitfalls and persistent practices in Second Life. In R.A. Atkinson & C. McBeath (Eds.), Same places, different spaces: Proceedings ASCILITE Auckland 2009 (pp. 1109-1120). Auckland: Auckland University/ Auckland University of Technology/ASCILITE.

Wood, D. (2011). The design of inclusive curricula for multi-user virtual environments: A framework for developers and educators. In G. Vincenti and J. Bramam (eds.). ICST Transactions on e-Education and e-Learning, 11(7-9), 1-17.

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The 2012 Telstra-TJA Christopher Newell Prize winners

The Christopher Newell Prize recognises and commemorates the research and commitment of the late Revd Canon Dr Christopher Newell AM who was a strong advocate of the the needs of people with disabilities and their rights to access telecommunications during the 1990s and up until his passing in 2008. Darryl Sellwood, a recent Honours Graduate from our School of Communications, International Studies and Languages, co-authored a paper based on his Honours research with his two supervisors (Assoc Professor Denise Wood and Dr Parimala Raghavendra, from Flinders University), which is one of the four prize winning papers published in the May edition of the Telecommunications Journal of Australia.

The Telstra sponsored award encourages authors to contribute original papers on how telecommunications can be used to assist people with disabilities. The independent Judging Panel (comprising Dr Mark Bagshaw, Barry Dingle, Professor Gerard Goggin, Wayne Hawkins, Robert Morsillo and the Managing Editor of TJA, as chair) assessed the papers that were submitted to TJA and four papers were awarded the Telstra-TJA Christopher Newell Prizes.

The award winners are as follows:

First prize (with a cheque for $6,000) was awarded to Rob Garrett and Toan Nguyen from Novita Children’s Services, South Australia, for their article ‘Together we can find telecommunication solutions for people with complex communication needs’.

The authors of three papers were awarded equal second prizes ($3,000 each):

  • Dr Katie Ellis of Murdoch University for ‘It means inclusion: a creative approach to disability and telecommunications policy in Australia’.

  • Darryl Sellwood and Dr Denise Wood (of the University of South Australia) and Dr Parimala Raghavendra (Flinders University) for ‘Perspectives on the telecommunications access methods of people with complex communication needs’.

  • Floris Müller and Marlies Klijn (of the University of Amsterdam) and Liesbet Van Zoonen (Loughborough University, UK) for ‘Disability, prejudice and reality TV: Challenging disablism through media representations’.

You can access the special edition of the journal from the Australian Computer Society Website: http://tja.org.au/index.php/tja/issue/view/18/showToc and Darryl’s co-authored paper titled ‘Perspectives on the telecommunications access methods of people with complex communication needs‘ (Vol 62(2)9.1-29.11) as a free download.



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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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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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I was an invited speaker at Professor Angela Brew’s National Summit, Undergraduate Research in Australia: First Australian Summit on the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (ALTC Senior Fellow), 5th-6th November, 2009, Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia. My presentation was titled “Research informed Media Practice”.

A few weeks earlier I had presented on the topic “Strengthening the link between research and practice in the first-year media arts curriculum” at Professor Angela Brew’s Australian Learning and Teaching Council National Teaching Fellowship Roundtable at Macquarie University on the 23rd September.

This was one of a series of Regional Roundtables to be held as part of Professor Angela Brew’s ALTC National Teaching Fellowship and it formed part of Macquarie University’s Learning and Teaching Week.

Speakers  included Fellowship team members, and academics and students with experience of undergraduate research. The event included a Learning Café to facilitate discussion and sharing of participants’ own experiences, ideas and resources, as well as artifacts and protocols being produced as part of the National Teaching Fellowship.

I also convened the South Australian regional roundtable held in Adelaide on the 10th November and co-presented with Dr Sheila Scutter on the topic of integrating research and teaching in the undergraduate curriculum within the disciplinary fields of Health Sciences and Communications.

I will post a link to my presentations once  they are available via Professor Brew’s website.

Further information about Professor Brew’s ALTC Fellowship is available from: http://www.mq.edu.au/ltc/altc/ug_research/

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On the 31st August I attended a meeting at the Australian Communications Consumer Advocacy Network (ACCAN) Sydney office to discuss ACCAN’s Draft Strategy Consultation paper, which will become the ACCAN strategic plan over the next five years.

ACCAN is the peak body that represents all consumers on communications issues including telecommunications, broadband and emerging new services. ACCAN provides a strong unified voice to industry and government as consumers work towards availability, accessibility and affordability of communications services for all Australians.

ACCAN’s goals and activities include:

  1. Improved accessibility, affordability and availability of communications services to all consumers;
  2. Better informed consumers with access to Australian information and communications technology resources;
  3. A strong, co-ordinated voice which uses our diversity as a point of strength for communications consumers, nationally and internationally;
  4. Effective advocacy for consumers to Government, regulators and the industry in the development of policy, legislation and industry practices;
  5. Inclusive consultation with stakeholders to identify areas and priorities for industry and/or regulatory responses;
  6. Robust research to support evidence based policy development and consumer education programs;
  7. Meaningful participation in regulatory and co-regulatory activities including industry codes, standards and guidelines
  8. Outreach, campaigns and activities that involve consumers in the communications arena
  9. Enhanced capacity for consumer representatives through information seminars, training and international engagement
  10. Openness, transparency and inclusion of all parties interested in representing consumers on communications issues

Members of the Disability Consultation Group who attended the Sydney consultation meeting included:

Sue Salthouse – Women With Disabilities Australia – Chairperson/Board Member

Andrew Stewart – Deafness Forum

Andrew Wiltshire – Deaf Australia

Denise Wood – University of South Australia

Frank Nowlan – Blind Citizens Australia

Jan Ashford – Communication Aid Users Society

Leah Hobson – Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

Rob Garrett – Novita Children’s Services

Barry Dingle (by teleconference)

Further information about ACCAN is available from the website: http://www.accan.org.au/

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I was invited to present at the AARNeT hosted Virtual Worlds Workshop at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales on the 17th September.

There were 23 attendees at the workshop including representatives from AARNet, AIT Sydney, Audio Visual Services  (UTS), Australian National University, Charles Sturt University, Cisco, Electroboard, Flinders University,  NSW Department of Education and Training (x3), Scientific Acoustics, UoW/Smart Services Cooperative Research Centre, Sony Australia Ltd, University of South Australia, University of Southern Queensland, University of Wollongong  (x2) and Wenona School.

The speakers at the event included Mandy Salomon (Swinburne/SSCRC), Danny Stefanovic & Wes Ward (ExitReality), Farzad Safaei (UoW/SSCRC), Scott Grant (Monash), Denise Wood (UNISA) and our coordinator and speaker Lindy McKeown (USQ).  Brett and Jason (AARNet) did any excellent job with audio/video support.

The talks are available online at

My presentations are available from:

AARnet hosted Virtual Worlds Workshop, University of Wollongong

More photos from the day can be seen at:

AARNet did a superb job in supporting 3 virtual worlds at the event including SecondLife (SL, Meerkat viewers), ExitReality, iSee platforms.   It was a truly international tour with local and remote audio and video management on the fly.

The feedback from attendees was very positive noting speakers being pressed for time with a suggestion it should be a whole day!  All feedback rated at 4-5 (agree/strongly agree) with all positive statements on the general workshop, content and presenters.  Further discussions with NSW Sept of Education identified research opportunities and further ways for AARNet to engage with NSW DET, SSCRC, Nortel and others on an NBN testbed infrastructure that could support one or more virtual worlds.

According to James Sankar who organised the day “The main message is that a lot is happening in virtual worlds to support teaching, learning and collaboration, the main barrier to its use lies in effective IT service support to provide zero or low cost access and networking for performance with storage options for backup.  There are a range of platforms available at high and low cost to deploy, operate, customise, maintain.  Ideally a platform that can support multiple virtual world platforms with the ability to transfer the avatar, buildings and inventories is the way to go.  CAPEX and software development is only part of the answer, marketing, engagement with real users is also key to successful use of the technology”.

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