July 2010 Archives

As Bookshare celebrates the 20th anniversary of the ADA it has been my pleasure to review their entire collection for books related to disability. From that we selected about 30 to feature on the Bookshare Facebook page. During this research a bit of good fortune was to discover Kestrell Alicia Verlager.

The bibligraphy to her thesis Decloaking Disability was my guide for selecting which science fiction books from Bookshare's collection to highlight. The following presentation she gave at Readercon on July 9, 2010 is well worth reading: What Good Writers Still Get Wrong about Blind People (Links below in three parts). 

She starts:

To begin with, I wanted to mention how I came to propose this discussion. I graduated from MIT's Comparative Media Studies master's program a number of years ago, and my thesis was  "Decloaking Disability: Images of Disability and Technology in Science Fiction Media. " 

One of the reasons I love speculative fiction in general and science fiction specifically is it's many characters with non-normative bodies and modes of perception. However, when it comes to fictional blind characters, I often find myself shaking my head and wishing I could talk to writers about what they have gotten wrong in regard to the experience of being a real blind person. So, when I received an invitation to submit ideas for Readercon programming, I thought, Here is the perfect audience! And the Readercon programming committee was kind enough to encourage me. 

Because my goal is to discuss specific representations of blindness and blind people, I am going to use concrete examples from specific works. I don't wish for this to be interpreted as personal attacks upon the writers who wrote these works; I specifically mention in the title of this talk that these are all goodwriters, really, the best writers. The problem, I believe, is that there is so much mythologizing and misinformation about blindness and blind people that it is difficult for even the best authors to always distinguish fact from fiction, reality from stereotype.  

 The full presentation What Good Writers Still Get Wrong about Blind People is available here:

Technologies originally conceptualized for those with print disabilities are moving further into the mainstream. Progress comes through the application of the seven principles of Universal Design.

The Interactive Transcript feature on YouTube offers a no-cost way to reach the print-disabled community: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=100078 

Here is another application of the approach by 3Play Media:

From OT-SL Blog:

Day 2 of the ISTE 2010 Virtual Environments Playground included a great presentation by Alice Krueger (SL: Gentle Heron) on accessibility in virtual worlds. She presented different models of accessibility and made some very interesting points.

One point was that many see virtual worlds as leveling the playing field for people with disabilities, when in fact this often is not true (e.g., use of voice for those in the deaf community).

Alice then introduced Eme Capalini as the presentation moved into the Virtual Ability sim in Second Life. Eme discussed universal design in SL, using the example of the Sojourner Auditorium. BTW, this is a "must see" in SL if you have not already visited (or if you want to revisit with new [univeral design] eyes).

Eme Capalini discusses universal design at the Sojourner Auditorium