Week 10 – Digital social inclusion: focus on disability

Personally, I do not know anybody in my immediate family or circle of friends who lives with a disability. After this week’s lecture and tutorial however, I feel like I might be the minority. This week we talked all about disability in the media, how the disabled are portrayed in the media, as well as their own access to technology, digital and social media, and general inclusion in the digital world we live in. As we discussed in our tutorial groups this week, for many of us, disability is something we do not really consider unless we, or someone close to us, is affected by it. I think this is a reason for why people living with a disability are often not considered highly in the public agenda. That is, until recently, with the announcement of the Gillard government’s $20.4 billion National Disability Insurance Scheme (Ireland 2013), providing support and an increased medicare levy to people living with a disability. To be honest, disability services was not something I thought of much before this week, but through this week’s lecture, the reading by and my own further research, I feel it should be a high issue on the public agenda. “If we are now possessed of greater knowledge about disability and design, why is accessible and inclusive technology so difficult to bring about?” (Goggin and Newell, 2007). I don’t believe it is an unprofitable market as 18.5% of Australians have a disability (Australian Network on Disability, 2013), meaning there is great need for accessible and inclusive technologies. I think the problem of exclusion is caused be general societal attitudes and values, that have a long history of sidelining disability in the public agenda. It would not be hard for facebook programmers or apple designers to create accessible and innovative services and products, we have the technology. Before our society changes, these changes and social inclusion of the disabled will not be achieved, no matter how much technology advances.

References

Australian Network on Disability, ‘Disability Statistics’, Australian Network on Disability, accessed 16th May 2013 < http://www.and.org.au/pages/disability-statistics.html&gt;

Ireland, J , 15th May 2013  ‘Gillard chokes back tears on NDIS’ Sydney Morning Herald, accessed 16th May 2013 < http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/gillard-chokes-back-tears-on-ndis-20130515-2jlla.html&gt;

Goggin, G and C Newell (2007) ‘The Business of Digital Disability’ The Information Society: An International Journal, Volume 23, Issue 3, 159-168

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