Posts Tagged ‘disability’

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!

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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/

Read Full Post »

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”.

Read Full Post »

The Independent Weekly ran a story in its ‘Specturm’ section about our research into accessibility solutions in 3D virtual environments for people with disabilities, with a particular focus on the technologies under development to increase the participation of students with disabilities within 3D virtual learning environments.

The article is viewable online at http://www.indaily.com.au/?iid=28172 (page 18 of 42).

This article was followed-up with an interview by Peter Godfrey from Radio Adelaide on the Breakfast Show, 19th august.

Read Full Post »

I presented on the topic of ‘technologies of disability in virtual worlds’ at an event hosted by Dr Anna Hickey-Moody in the Department of Gender & Cultural Studies, School of Philosophical & Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney on the 31st July 2009.

The seminar focused on understanding technology as an act of thought and a material craft. The speakers, Dr Anna Hickey-Moody, Professor Gerard Goggin and Dr Denise Wood discussed material technologies such as film, virtual worlds and telecommunications through technologies of thought intended to open up bio-political conceptualizations of disability.

You can listen to a podcast of the three presentations from this url: htttp://www.unisanet.UniSA.edu.au/3dvle/media/techdis.mp3 (32 MB MP3 File)

My presentation is also available as a Quicktime movie download: htttp://www.unisanet.UniSA.edu.au/3dvle/media/r/dwood.mov (40 MB .mov file)

Read Full Post »

My segment on Radio 5RPH during the Lifestyles program on the 27th July 2009 focused on challenges associated with ensuring Web 2.0 and 3D virtual worlds are accessible. We touched on the Boston conference and also the implications of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Version 2, which were finally approved in December 2008. These revised guidelines take into account the broader range of technology devices used to access the Web as well as the increasing importance of rich media content. I also spoke briefly about our Australian and Learning Teaching Council Grant and our work in creating a more accessible 3D virtual learning environment.

You can download the podcast of the radio segment from http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/3dvle/media/rph_ll2_250709.mp3

We are hoping to have a discussion with Bruce Maguire, project officer with the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Committee on the Committee’s response to the approval of the W3C WCAG 2.0 guidelines in a future segment.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »