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Contra* podcast — Mapping Access
"a podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play, or play from our website."

[See also:
https://www.mapping-access.com/podcast/2018/12/29/episode-1-contra-design-with-sara-hendren

"In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Show notes and transcription

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Themes:

Critical Design

Theory of critical design revised by disability

Writing as/part of critical design

Disability politics in relation to design

Translational work and science communication; critical design as a “friendly Trojan horse”

Things as an index of ideas

STEAM, knowledge, and power

Links:

Sara Hendren (https://sarahendren.com)

Abler blog (https://ablersite.org/)

Adaptation and Ability Lab (http://aplusa.org/)

Wendy Jacob and Temple Grandin, Squeeze Chair (https://patient-innovation.com/post/1047?language=en)

Sketch Model project at Olin College (http://www.olin.edu/collaborate/sketch-model/)

Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/253076.Tools_for_Conviviality)

Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway (https://www.dukeupress.edu/Meeting-the-Universe-Halfway/)

Aimi Hamraie, Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/building-access)

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Introduction Description:

The podcast introductory segment is composed to evoke friction. It begins with sounds of a wheelchair rhythmically banging down metal steps, the putter of an elevator arriving at a person’s level, and an elevator voice saying “Floor two, Floor three.” Voices begin to define Contra*. Layered voices say “Contra is friction…Contra is…Contra is nuanced…Contra is transgressive…Contra is good trouble…Contra is collaborative…Contra is a podcast!…Contra is a space for thinking about design critically…Contra is subversive…Contra is texture…”

An electric guitar plays a single note to blend out the sound.

The rhythmic beat of an electronic drum begins and fades into the podcast introduction.

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Episode Introduction:

Welcome to Contra*: the podcast about disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. This show is about the politics of accessible and critical design—broadly conceived—and how accessibility can be more than just functional or assistive. It can be conceptual, artful, and world-changing.

I’m your host, Aimi Hamraie .  I am a professor at Vanderbilt University, a designer and design researcher, and the director of the Critical Design Lab, a multi-institution collaborative focused on disability, technology, and critical theory.  Members of the lab collaborate on a number of projects focused on hacking ableism, speaking back to inaccessible public infrastructures, and redesigning the methods of participatory design—all using a disability culture framework. This podcast provides a window into the kinds of discussions we have within the lab, as well as the conversations we are hoping to put into motion. So in coming episodes, you’ll also hear from myself and the other designers and researchers in the lab, and we encourage you to get in touch with us via our website, www.mapping-access.com or on Twitter at @criticaldesignl

In this first episode of the podcast, we talk to design researcher Sara Hendren, who teaches at Olin College of Engineering, about disability, critical design, and poetic creation.

Sara and I talk about her work in the fields of critical design and assistive technology, including how she came to this work, how she is thinking about strategy and practice, and also her current work on bridging the humanities with STEM education."]
accessibility  disability  aimihamraie  ableism  podcasts  disabilitystudies  criticaldesign  olincollege  assistivetechnology  technology  poeticcreation  creativity  sarahendren  ivanillich  toolsforconviviality  wendyjacob  templegrandin  stem  knowledge  power  karenbarad  adaptation  materialculture  socialimagination  art  design  thinking  inclusivity  capitalism  howwewrite  howwethink  making  communication  academia  scholarship  ethics  politics  difference  jargon  language 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Web Accessibility: What You Say vs. What I Hear | Think Company
"AVOID CREATING BARRIERS FOR PEOPLE

While the following list isn’t comprehensive, it could be a starting point for thinking about accessibility in your work and organization. Consider how you could unintentionally make it difficult for people to access your content and begin by shifting your perspective.

1. Think about accessibility from the very beginning. Communicate it across business, design, development, and testing.

2. Make accessibility a priority, a business case, and a part of your organization’s definition of “done.”

3. Include people with disabilities in your user personas and conduct research and studies with real people.

4. Make sure everyone gets accessibility training. Learn how to use assistive technology.

5. Think about multiple methods to convey information and interact with user interface.

6. Apply proper keyboard support and think about tab order. This will ensure a baseline level of accessibility for various assistive technology.

7. Design and develop according to the latest standards.
Create internal accessibility standards and requirements.

8. Let’s change the dialogue around accessibility. People want to hear what you’re saying."
via:dirtystylus  accessibility  advocacy  webdev  webdesign  web  online  internet  mikeyilagan  standards  disabilities  disability  assistivetechnology  technology 
may 2018 by robertogreco
openings and closures | sara hendren
"One of the themes of my book is about how all states of the body and its gear make for what I’m calling openings and closures in a life—openings and closures that are co-created with hardware and software. Look and listen closely to what people with disabilities are saying about their own lives: It will never suffice to describe someone as “bound” to a wheelchair or “suffering from” autism, and it will never be really truthful to say that a technology “gave someone her life back.” Any real story, closely attended, will show itself to be far, far more interesting. Every body is a patchwork, which means that all states of being come with possibilities and impossibilities, gradations of change, capacities that diminish while others open up, all in a close orchestration that plays out with and without design or technology. Some conditions, as in the case of true disease, we may well wish away. But others make us who we are, and the line is blurrier than the common narratives would have us believe. It’s a state of dynamism for everyone, full stop. Once you see that to be true among people with disabilities, you may feel invited yourself to recognize that same dimensionality, to recognize you share it.

Sharing openings and closures doesn’t mean “we’re all disabled” in a glib way. It means that there’s more that is true about being disabled than the available narratives make known. More that is true and more to be known that is not only experience, but also cultural knowledge. It’s what the scholar Susan Wendell means when she says in this passage from The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability:
Not only do physically disabled people have experiences which are not available to the able-bodied, they are in a better position to transcend cultural mythologies about the body, because they cannot do things the able-bodied feel they must do in order to be happy, “normal,” and sane…If disabled people were truly heard, an explosion of knowledge of the human body and psyche would take place.
"
susanwendell  sarahendren  disabilities  disability  technology  bodies  2018  time  change  dynamism  openings  closures  life  assistivetechnology  ability  possibility  impossibility  body 
april 2018 by robertogreco
‘My God, it’s better’: Emma can write again thanks to a prototype watch, raising hope for Parkinson’s disease – Transform
"As they got to know one another, the question became: Could Zhang’s tech skills help alleviate Lawton’s loss of writing function?

Certainly, that challenge meshed with Zhang’s passion: technology for good, the idea that society can advance through tech evolution. She’s equally drawn to the Maker movement, a global culture that blends DIY sensibilities with modern engineering, fueling altruistic folks to devise and share innovations that help the world.

Zhang infuses that spirit into her job, innovation director at Microsoft Research Cambridge in England. She’s involved in initiatives spanning the play and health spaces. For example, her team is developing a project called Fizzyo, a connected device for kids with Cystic Fibrosis that turns their daily physiotherapy exercises into a video game experience. She’s also working with colleagues to develop Project Torino, a set of physical blocks that helps children with visual impairments learn computer programming.

Lawton, in turn, saw tangible hope in a woman with a mind bright enough to unsnarl brain complexities and a will strong enough to make a fresh assault on a very old problem. Lawton was also open to trying anything, decrying a lack of new Parkinson’s treatments during her lifetime – as well as medications that can make her days harder by triggering more symptoms.

“Technology is sliding in lately and helping with the symptomatic relief and to make life easier,” Lawton says. “That’s where I’m interested. The whole idea of tech for good.

“But more than anything, I just wanted to be able to write my name properly.”

♦♦♦♦♦

The moment of truth begins with two surprised gasps.

Oooh! Oooh!” Lawton chirps, feeling the watch start to vibrate through her right wrist. She uses her left hand to place a green marker in her right. Then she attempts to draw the first letter in her name. She doesn’t expect it to work.

It does. With the tremors reduced, Lawton pens a perfectly round “e.” The other three letters follow, equally tidy. She cries, something she does when she’s happy. Zhang puts her hand to her mouth and utters, “Oh my God.

“So many things are rushing through my head, all banging around in there,” Lawton recalls later. “Like, is this a one-off? I’m excited and nervous, is it from that? I’m forgetting I have a tremor.

“I look at Haiyan and she’s shell-shocked too. But then I’m panicking: Will it happen again?”

It does. Lawton next draws a straight line. Then a small square. Then a larger rectangle. All are crisp and sharp. The two collaborators hug. Then Lawton phones her mother to report the news – and to tell her the device is officially called “the Emma Watch.” The moment was recorded for a BBC documentary show, “The Big Life Fix.”

“I was in disbelief,” Zhang recalls. “As someone who works in technology and thinks about new kinds of things, I don’t really see the impact of that on people’s lives or on an individual. For me, it was so powerful to see her life made better.”

“To be able to write your name is a basic human right,” Lawton says later. “To be able to do it and do it neatly is really special to me now. It’s empowering. It made me feel that I could do anything.”"

[direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9Rm-U9havE ]
parkinson'sdisease  health  technology  haiyanzhang  accessibility  disability  tremors  assistivetechnology  emmalawton  disabilities 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Sara Hendren en Instagram: “Technologies for writing a book: triple-wall cardboard desk topper for standing-and-writing; AI-powered, human-tweaked transcription…”
"Technologies for writing a book: triple-wall cardboard desk topper for standing-and-writing; AI-powered, human-tweaked transcription services for interviews; fountain pens and notebooks; cloud-based backup software. The future is mixed and weirder, always weirder."
sarahendren  technology  writing  tools  howwework  2017  assistivetechnology 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Deeply Aggrieved
"Van Jones, whom Bruni quotes, offers to students that “I want you to be offended every single day on this campus. I want you to be deeply aggrieved and offended and upset, and then to learn how to speak back.” And I wonder: Does Jones, does Bruni, think that students aren’t offended—deeply aggrieved and offended and upset—everywhere every single day? How dare we presume that students live idle lives when we’re not watching? How dare we believe it is our responsibility to forge their character through intellectual adversity?

C’mon, really? Among undergraduate women, 23.4% will be or have been raped. Upwards of 24% of students are food insecure, even though 63% of them are working. And that’s just for starters. Hate crime, domestic abuse, fears about the stability and reliability of health care, concerns about the environment—all the things that plague working adults with advanced degrees also plague students. The difference is that those “working adults” don’t have professors telling them to “put on some boots and learn how to deal with adversity.”

But what does all of this have to do with a dyslexic student who found herself unable to use the device on which she relied in—ahem—a computer science class?

Academia has long touted its own brand without paying attention to whether or not its product works. Universities and colleges not only stand on tradition, they promote a propaganda of tradition, a dogged effort to raise the quality of human character through intellectualism, rationality, and expertise supported by relentless surveillance and punishment of plagiarism, sloth, and student agency, and a tireless resistance to cultural change, technology, and diversity. The Student is the weak link in the academy, the wild horse that needs breaking, or the lazy scissorbill who must be taught discipline and integrity...and more recently, the privileged Millennial whose character can only be built through an unforgiving exposure to adversity.

But the academy and its students see the world very differently. Devices are not distractions. And adversity is something carried on the back into class. While academics enact social justice through diatribes, literary analysis, and social get-togethers, students are finding themselves on the front lines. They are dealing with their disabilities, they are confronting racism, they are walking out of classrooms to join protests, they are standing up for their undocumented colleagues. They are taking risks. And even if the only thing they’re doing is attending our classes, that is risk enough.

Your students have fought, your students have hidden from bullies, your students have been hungry, they have passed for straight, they have held their tongues, and they have been broken.
In many cases, the students you work with have had to subvert a system that sought to oppress them in order to make it to your classroom.
Institutions that refuse to move—not into the future, but into the present—are enacting a masochistic nostalgia. Things are not the way they were, and to isolate our philosophies in an historic moment is to condemn their practicality. Just as perilous is to assume the academy exists in a safe vacuum, where political tensions that light the nation on fire will not penetrate the halls of ivy-grown intellectualism and rationality. Universities hope to be environments for stable inquiry, where research and dialogue trump matters more visceral. But the students are restless y'all. These upon whose shoulders our futures will be built are staring down an apocalypse—of government, of environment, of justice, and of common sense.

In a world run by people who take the low road, taking the high road is not practical. We need people who will meet others on the low road if we are to cease this downward spiral. I am not advocating for violence—that the Middlebury protest ended in violence muted its usefulness. Instead, I am advocating for a Zen-like honesty about the state of things. The academy will not solve the crises its students face. But the students themselves may.

We do not do what we do so that students can be like us. We do what we do precisely because they can't be. We cannot afford for them to carry on our traditions. And for that reason, I encourage the academy, and all of those who advocate for its primacy, to consider the ways in which it has sheltered itself from the world, and to put on some boots, become deeply aggrieved, and be strong."
seanmichaelmorris  2017  vanjones  frankbruni  highered  highereducation  tradtion  academia  adversity  privilege  technology  education  middleburycollege  charlesmurray  bootstraps  distraction  assistivetechnology  dyslexia  socialjustice  disability  bullying  oppression  nostlagia  masochism  lowroad  highroad  disabilities 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Scratching the Surface — 24. Sara Hendren
"Sara Hendren is a designer, artist, writer, and professor whose work centers around adaptive and assistive technologies, prosthetics, inclusive design, accessible architecture, and related ideas. She teaches inclusive design practices at Olin College in Massachusetts and writes and edits Abler, her site to collect and comment on art, adaptive technologies and prosthetics, and the future of human bodies in the built environment. In this episode, Sara and I talk about her own background and using design to manifest ideas in the world, the role of writing in her own design practice, and how teaches these ideas with her students."

[audio: https://soundcloud.com/scratchingthesurfacefm/24-sara-hendren ]
sarahendren  jarrettfuller  design  2017  interviews  johndewey  wendyjacob  nataliejeremijenko  remkoolhaas  timmaly  clairepentecost  alexandralange  alissawalker  michaelrock  alfredojaar  oliversacks  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  nicolatwilley  amateurs  amateurism  dabbling  art  artists  generalists  creativegeneralists  disability  engineering  criticaltheory  integatededucation  integratedcurriculum  identity  self  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  assistivetechnology  technology  olincollege  humanities  liberalarts  disabilities  scratchingthesurface 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Using Technology to Empower Students With Special Needs | Edutopia
"Learn how one educator uses G Suite for Education to help students overcome their negative self-images and embrace learning."
assistivetechnology  education  teaching  2016  kathrynnieves 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Assistive Technology: Resource Roundup | Edutopia
"Resources by Topic:

• Getting Started
• Finding Assistive Technology
• Tips and Tools
• Resources to Address Specific Challenges
• Universal Design for Learning"
assistivetechnology  technology  2013  tools  teaching  education  udl  learning 
november 2016 by robertogreco
A Gadget for Every Need: Assistive Technology for Students | Edutopia
"Technology provides today’s students with an infinite number of distractions; mobile devices have literally put texting, Facebook, and addictive games at their fingertips. Although some educators might perceive this technology as a bane to classroom learning, it can actually be one of your most powerful educational tools.

All of your students can benefit from technology in the classroom, but new advancements have become particularly useful for those with special needs. Known as assistive technology (AT), these developments help level the playing field for students with special needs, giving them a greater chance at success in some of the more challenging areas.

Listening, Memory, and Organization

Listening and memorization are two difficult areas for many students. But there are many recording devices on the market that can help, including noise-canceling headphones and recording devices, such as tape recorders or students’ iPhones, that can be used to record lectures. Personal listening devices can also link students directly to their lecturers through a microphone and headset.

Even more specialized are AT devices like smartpens. These devices are used with special paper so students can write notes that correspond with verbal recordings. When students return to their written notes, they can touch the pen to the handwriting, and the pen will play back the corresponding recording. This eases the anxiety of having to listen intently while determining what’s most important to write down.

Enabling students to better organize their thoughts and assignments can significantly aid in comprehension, as well. Physical or digital color-coordinated daily planners are simple yet effective ways to get students organized. The advantage of digital organizers such as the iPhone organizer or software such as Info Select by Micro Logic is that students can set reminders with alarms and even add links to assignments to help them stay on track.

Math

Students struggling with math can also benefit from smartpens by linking their handwritten formulas and math problems with recorded instructions and tips.

Aligning math problems on paper is another challenge for some students with special needs, but putting those math problems on a computer screen with electronic math worksheets can alleviate that issue. Applications like MathPad allow students to write out problems on a tablet screen, and the program translates and aligns the writing into a more readable, solvable math problem. The student can also utilize the program’s special keyboard that includes clear mathematical symbols.

Calculators can also be difficult to handle, but with talking calculators such as Calc-U-Vue, students can double-check what they’ve entered and reiterate correct answers verbally, helping them focus on solving the problem rather than working the device.

Reading

Whether your students are visually impaired or struggle with comprehension, translating text into speech is a helpful function. There are many resources for audiobooks and publications, such as Audible, Bookshare, or your state library, where you can find a national database of audio publications via the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

If you can’t find a specific book or publication in audio form, computer software or separate handheld devices with optical character recognition can scan documents and read them aloud using speech synthesizers or screen readers. These can also read text that users type or copy and paste from other resources.

Writing

Most word-processing programs include proofreading software for spelling and grammar, but students with special needs often require more comprehensive AT tools for writing.

For students with underdeveloped motor skills, speech recognition programs allow users to speak into a microphone, and the program will translate those spoken words into text. Many software programs have both speech recognition and speech synthesizers built in so students can verbalize what they want written, and the program reads the text back to them.

For students who struggle with writing by hand and prefer typing, small portable word processors allow them to type notes in class and take them home to add to or expand on for assignments without rekeying. This can be done on a tablet with word-processing software or with AT devices specific to this task, such as the Forte portable word processor.

Abbreviation expanders and word prediction software can help students with spelling and grammar by suggesting words or phrases they might mean to type while also speeding up their keying time. Similarly, alternative keyboards, such as IntelliKeys, help increase typing proficiency by grouping letters or symbols with customizable overlays, for example.

These AT tools and others can enhance the learning experience for all students and help them develop the self-confidence they need to succeed. You can find additional resources on the National Public Website on Assistive Technology, as well as games and websites for the classroom on Common Sense Education. AbleNet is a great resource for information on the most recent AT developments, such as SoundingBoard, an application that allows students with speech difficulties to communicate by touch screen.

Assistive technology can’t replace the vital human element of dedicated teachers, parents, and aides, but embracing these advancements will give both you and your students a leg up on learning."
assistivetechnology  technology  2015  rebeccadean  listening  memory  organization  math  mathematics  writing  reading  tools  teaching  education 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Color Gradient Reader BeeLine Shows Promise for Speed and Attention in Reading - The Atlantic
"In the era of attention deficits, the new text will not be black and white."



"The colors in this text are rendered in a precise and strategic way, designed to help people read quickly and accurately.

The most important feature is that each line begins with a different color than the line above or below. As Matthew Schneps, director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, explained it to me, the color gradients also pull our eyes long from one character to the next—and then from the end of one line to the beginning of the next, minimizing any chance of skipping lines or making anything less than an optimally efficient word-to-word or line-to-line transition.

Improving the ease and accuracy of the return sweep is a promising idea for readers of all skill levels. And yet it’s one that’s gone largely ignored in the milieu of media technologies. Today many of us read primarily on screens–and we have for years–yet most platforms have focused on using technology to attempt to recreate text as it appears in books (or in newspapers or magazines), instead of trying to create an optimal reading experience.

The format—black text on white lines of 12 to 15 words of equal size—is a relic of the way that books were most easily printed on early printing presses. It persists today out of tradition, not because of some innate tendency of the human brain to process information in this way.

Meanwhile, people who aren’t especially skilled at intake of text in the traditional format are systematically penalized. People who don’t read well in this one particular way tend to fall behind scholastically early in life. They might be told they’re not as bright as other people, or at least come to assume it. They might even be diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, or a learning disability, or overlooked as academically mediocre.

“The book format was effective, but not for everyone,” said Schneps. “This is not just technology that could help people who are struggling with reading; this is technology that could help a lot of people.”

* * *

Our minds are not as uniform as our text. We all take in information in different ways. Some people read more quickly and retain more information when lines are shorter, or when fonts are bolder, or in different colors. The color-gradient pattern above is rendered by a product called BeeLine, developed by armchair linguist Nick Lum. He got the idea after learning about the Stroop Effect, the famous phenomenon where it becomes difficult to read words like “yellow” and “red” when they are written in different colors. Lum thought, “What if instead of screwing people up, we tried to use color in a way that helps people?”

After he won the Stanford Social Entrepreneurship and Dell Education startup competitions with the idea in 2014, Lum took to developing the technology full time. So far, the response from people tends to be binary: for some it’s a shrug, but for others, particularly people with dyslexias, it’s like turning on a light bulb. As Lum describes it, people tell him “Holy cow, this is how everybody else reads.”

The idea has been well received by reading experts, too.

“Most of the academic research is figuring out entirely what your eyes are going to do on one line,” said psychologist and Microsoft researcher Kevin Larson. “That has been such a challenge that it's rare for anyone to pay much attention to what happens during that line return movement.”

At the University of Texas at Austin, Randolph Bias has studied the optimal length of lines of text for reading comprehension and speed. The two are generally at odds: Short lines make for a quick and accurate return (the movement is easier because it allows our eyes to take a greater downward angle than if the line were longer.) The downside is that because our brains process information during return sweeps, shorter lines don't afford us that time. We also don’t get to take full advantage of peripheral vision – which is key. (He cites this as the problem with Spritz, the reading technology where single words rapidly flash before a reader.)"



"The other big opportunity for the technology is in educational settings. Later this year, BeeLine will be rolling out in libraries across California, as part of a licensing partnership. This is how Lum sees the company growing. The basic Google Chrome extension and iPhone app are free. But large-scale licensing deals with platforms and institutions like school systems could be more lucrative—and make the option accessible to people who wouldn’t otherwise think to try reading in color.

In early experiments, some students do seem to benefit from the color gradients. Last year, first-grade students in two general-education classrooms in San Bernardino, California, tried out Beeline, and many did better with comprehension tests afterword. “Because of my background in visual processing, I immediately wanted to check it out,” said Michael Dominguez, an applied behavioral analyst who directs the San Bernardino school district’s special education program. “Based on everything I know, it should work great.”"

[See also (referenced in the article):
http://www.beelinereader.com/
https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/ie/2014/03/04/introducing-reading-view-in-ie-11/ ]
howweread  reading  dyslexia  education  cyborgs  adhd  color  text  jameshamblin  kevinlarson  via:ayjay  michaeldominguez  beeline  chrome  browser  browsers  extensions  accessibility  assistivetechnology  microsoft  attention  technology  edtech  nicklum  linguistics  randolphbias  spritz  ereading  kindle  pdfs  epub  pdf 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Apple's new short film starring autistic teen shows how tech transforms lives
"Dillan has been using an iPad as a communication tool for about three years. His use of the technology actually went viral in 2014, after he used his tablet and an AAC app to deliver a moving middle school graduation speech.

“For Apple, accessibility is about empowering everyone to use our technology to be creative, productive and independent,” Sarah Herrlinger, senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives at Apple, tells Mashable. “Dillan’s message is powerful, and we are grateful the iPad and apps are playing such an impactful role in his life.”"

[videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTx12y42Xv4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMN2PeFama0 ]
assistivetechnology  autism  apple  2016  ipad  technology  via:lukeneff 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Claire Volpe
"My name is Claire Kearney-Volpe. I'm an art therapist, researcher, designer and web developer.

I began my Master's of Interactive Telecommunications in the fall of 2013 and I am currently working on my thesis. I am interested in the research and development of helpful and engaging technologies. I am also a firm believer that technology serves people better when they participate in it's design.

Before coming to New York for school, I was a health policy research coordinator in a bustling hospital think-tank. I began making data visualizations, started tinkering with web development and immediately saw the vast potential for these technologies to communicate rich information and promote civic engagement."

[via: https://processingfoundation.org/fellowships

"Claire Kearney-Volpe is an Art Therapist, Researcher, and Designer interested in accessibility, assistive technology, and participatory design. Claire graduated from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, and is an Adjunct Professor in the area of assistive tech at NYU and Manager of the the NYU Ability Lab. In addition to mentorship from the Processing Foundation, Claire’s Advisor will be Sara Hendren."]
clairevolpe  clairekearney-volpe  sarahendren  accessibility  via:caseygollan  assistivetechnology  participatory  design  participatorydesign  arttherapy 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Sara Hendren Believes Disability Is a Cultural Construct
"Do we misunderstand technology that assists the disabled?

When we talk about design technology in the context of disability, we call it assistive technology. But all technology is assistive. Curb cuts were thought to be an extreme user case for wheelchairs. But it turns out that they also make passage through a city easy for a lot of people, like children who are learning to walk, and people who are pushing strollers. Look at the use of elevators. People who are with young children, people who are injured, people who are with older adults who have trouble walking all use them. The Oxo brand of kitchen tools was designed by a man whose wife had arthritis in her hands. He made a fortune by figuring out that a lot of people need some of the same tools that she did. Disabilities occupy the continuum of normal human variation, and technology can do something similar. It’s not that there is technology for normal people, and there is assistive technology for not-normal people.

How can the stigma surrounding technology for the disabled be addressed?

There is no stigma attached to your eyes having less than 20-20 vision. People who wear eyeglasses do not feel any shame in walking out of the door. But studies show there is plenty of stigma attached to hearing aids. I want people to see technologies doing lots of things for lots of people. There are plenty of design speculations, like a hearing aid could not only control the volume of what you are hearing but also how much you are hearing of one thing in particular. How much you are hearing what is in front of you, while tuning out the rest. That can be quite useful in a noisy restaurant. I think there are lots of other opportunities like this to de-stigmatize.

What do you make of the wide publicity given to high-end gear for disabled people, like exoskeletons?

I love these exoskeletons. I am astonished at them as a feat of engineering and think we should celebrate them and support them. I also think that they monopolize the headlines about disability, about prosthetics, and about the promise of technology. We have 100 other kinds of stories about the ways people are living their lives. Lives that are worth living with artifacts and gears but also with systems, jobs, and supports that comes from lots of places. Some of them are low-tech, some of them are systems-scale, and some of them are architectural. A lot of them are hidden from you. The director of the Adaptive Design Association in New York City just won a MacArthur “Genius” award. They have been building adaptive furniture out of triple-walled cardboard for pennies, for decades, and they do it for free. Jaipur Foot in India is producing recycled rubber limbs. There is daily living advice on websites targeted for people living with muscular dystrophy. Ways to button a shirt on your own, ways to hold a fork in a steady manner. There are white canes. White canes are a smart technology. They have resisted many new market entrants. People who are blind find them incredibly elegant and useful tools. But they do not make newsworthy headlines.

Is cheap, scalable technology a necessity?

History shows that the availability of technology doesn’t actually make a more equitable world. In this country, after 25 years of working for rights for people with disabilities, we are still seeing high unemployment rates for the disabled. Look at what happens even in the best inclusive schooling situations. Disabled students who age out of the public school system, their prospects just tank. And this is the richest country in the world, with all kinds of assistive and adaptive technology products available. So you will never convince me that just the sheer production of products that can be scaled cheaply is going to change the way people think about people who have disabilities. You need people to change their minds. So, I am an unabashed culture producer. I think, does democracy come when the next five great products come to the market? History shows that is not the case. History shows that people change their minds based on a lot of things. Look at the way gay rights have been transformed in this country. Sitcoms starting in the ’90s had openly gay characters that went out on national networks, like Ellen. It would have been unheard of more than 25 years ago. So, I think there is a lot of tech-saviorism in the world around disability. People act like engineering is going to rescue these bodies. Then what? Are they going to get better jobs, or suddenly get the respect or the dignity that they are asking for? I strongly feel that engineering does some good things—and cultural forms and stories, objects and artifacts, symbols and metaphors also do things to change the world."
2016  interviews  sarahendren  disability  technology  assistivetechnology  stigma  bias  technosolutionsism  normal  adaptive  adaptivetechnology  disabilities 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Engineering at Home
"We are a designer (Sara Hendren) and an anthropologist (Caitrin Lynch), and we teach engineering students. When we met Cindy, we were moved by a number of aspects about her story, and so were the students in our classrooms. She survived a complex, life-threatening medical event; she joined a very small percentage of people to survive such an event without neurological impairment. All of this is extraordinary in itself. But she also received the best available “rehabilitation engineering” technology that money can buy—a sophisticated myoelectric hand—and it turned out to be of little importance to her recovery. Those hands are astonishing feats of engineering, and there’s no shortage of media attention celebrating them. But after a lengthy insurance process and specialized training for that replacement limb, Cindy found she had little use for it. By the time she received the hand, she was well on her way to adapting her body and environment with a variety of everyday materials and tools—using what was around her for daily tasks. It may come as a surprise, but the “universal” functionality of that hand had been supplanted by the quick and nimble devices she and her prosthetist could assemble. So, how has Cindy built a life that works? She’s not an engineer by training, and she wouldn’t have even called herself naturally inclined toward Do-It-Yourself handiwork. But she is the expert on her body and needs, and her wish to adapt to her new life has fueled the creation of everyday adaptations built of things like cable ties, cosmetic sponges, peel-and-stick hooks, and more—some that are available in the assistive technology market, and some with her prosthetist or her husband Ken, but many on her own. Cindy’s set of objects form an archive about the new interdependence that she lives with in her body: a combination of assistance from her husband and two daughters, family, church community, and friends; expert medical oversight; and this assembly of daily living tools and devices."



"We created this website because we are moved by Cindy's story. We also created it because we are convinced that her story illustrates new ways of understanding who can engineer, what counts as engineering, and why this matters. This website is about her adaptations. It is also about Cindy herself. And it’s about a new way of imagining engineering. The full archive is here, and we invite you to explore these designs individually or by action.

Cindy is not alone in adapting her environment with informal engineering—we know she joins millions of garage tinkerers, household inventors, and, of course, participants in Maker culture. However, Cindy’s story is distinctive. She needed the expertise of clinicians, yes—and the most advanced medical care and technology available (including a $90,000 myoelectric hand). But she also needed to find dozens of ways to make a new life for herself, and for that she needed deceptively simple engineering: a tool to write in her own signature hand, the ability to feed herself, to play cards with friends. Cindy’s adaptations say something powerful about health and wellbeing, and the tools that make those things possible. Medical technology and skilled clinicians sustained her life, but getting to a “new normal” turned out not to be a high-tech matter. These inventions—repurposed household objects, simple materials, clever hacks—give her something that pain medications and medical gear cannot: a life tailored, customized, tuned to her wishes and aspirations. This is a story about surviving a radical life change in the company of experts but also with one’s own ingenuity. Today Cindy has gotten relicensed to drive, has traveled to Europe, and goes out on her own to visit friends or to shop. Life goes on. She is 69 years old as of this writing (December 2015) and she looks forward to many more years with her five grandchildren (three born since the heart attack).

Inspiration and precedents for this project include sites like Zebreda Makes It Work, Maker Nurse, and Farm Hack, and others, all of which alter the context, meaning, and import of Maker culture trends. Read on for an extended discussion: what counts as engineering, and how do we know?"
sarahendren  caitrinlynch  caseygollan  michaelmaloney  engineering  assistivetechnology  technology  tools  making  2016 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Zebreda Makes It Work | Assistive Technology & Creativity
"Welcome to Zebreda Makes It Work!—a series of videos, demonstrations, reflections and shared experiences on the practical use, customization, adaptation and creation of a wide range of Assistive Technology. Zebreda Dunham is your guide and as she proves that Assistive Technology comes in all shapes and sizes without limitation. And the best part, it’s all within your reach—and budget!"

[via: http://engineeringathome.org/ ]
zebredadunham  customization  adaptation  assistivetechnology  technology 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Microsoft Hackathon 2015 winner extends OneNote to improve learning outcomes for students | News Center
"Education is a must-have ingredient for success. And to succeed in education, reading and writing is essential. The challenges that come with language barriers and learning disabilities such as dyslexia are vast and varied, but luckily technology is able to help many students overcome literacy obstacles.

One solution is coming from a team at Microsoft that spans collaboration between Windows, OneNote, Bing and Microsoft Research: the OneNote for Learning extension. The team and their project emerged victorious over more than 3,300 other projects and 13,000 other hackers around the world competing in the company’s second annual //oneweek Hackathon during the last week of July.

Sebastian Greaves, a Vancouver-based OneNote developer, thinks of the extension as a toolbox with many small tools that can solve big problems. It has special text formatting tools that can make reading, writing and note-taking easier. Features include enhanced dictation powered by Bing speech recognition services, immersive reading that uses Windows services of simultaneous audio text playback with highlighting, and natural language processing that relies on Microsoft Research.

“One of the key things we wanted to achieve is to make sure no student ever got behind in their education because of difficulties with reading,” says Greaves, who drove down to Redmond, Washington, with others from his office to work side-by-side with the entire team during Hackathon. “We wanted to make sure that was as little a barrier as possible, so they can focus on what they’re learning.”

More than a dozen of Greaves’ teammates worked together for more than eight weeks to create the free OneNote extension, which will debut this fall in several schools in the U.S. and France.

“One of the great things about this project was that we utilized loads of different services,” Greaves says. “It meant that we could do so much more than we could’ve done if we had to write it all from scratch.”

By connecting with so many existing technologies across Microsoft, the team was able to do a lot in a short period of time. Every team member made key contributions to push the project forward, says Jeff Petty, the accessibility lead for Windows for Education and the program manager who led the grand prize-winning team.

“It takes a tremendous amount of work to envision it, pull it together and then deliver it in such a way where it just makes sense for people,” says Petty. “I don’t think we could have done something as powerful without having real breadth and depth on the team.”

Petty was interested in finding opportunities to deliver better learning outcomes for students and teachers. He focused on dyslexia, which affects as much as 20 percent of the population. He connected with a team in OneNote that was working on solving problems for dyslexic readers, such as visual crowding. That team found ways to put more space between letters, which makes words more readable.

That team had won an internal OneNote hackathon in the spring for that idea, led by Valentin Dobre, a software engineer, and Greaves.

Petty recognized this was a great start, but soon he and the expanding team also realized they could do more to pull together a more wide-reaching solution for students.

“When you address challenges with reading and writing, the benefits extend far beyond the original audience you had in mind,” says Petty. “By solving a problem for one audience, we’re actually going to make life easier for many more people.”

In his work with Windows, they were able to take advantage of the immersive reading function, with the ability to highlight text and have it read aloud, which increases reading comprehension. The next big connection was finding font and reading experts in Windows research.

“They helped us gel,” Petty says. “They backed up our solutions with science. Nothing that we built came from what we just thought was a good idea. It’s all based on prior research. These are proven interventions for students with dyslexia and also techniques that create a better reader for everybody.”

The researchers provided additional ideas for improving the team’s tool chest, like breaking words down into syllables to improve word recognition, and reading comprehension mode, which highlights different parts of speech like verbs and subordinate clauses.

Mira Shah was the team’s user research expert and formerly a speech pathologist. She gave them a real-world perspective with her experience in schools and seeing firsthand what worked and what didn’t.

Petty served as the glue to the team, bringing a broad perspective to reading and writing, and kept them on track with guiding principles, such as developing something backed by science, and keeping everyone focused on delivering something that would make a difference in people’s lives – something they could all be proud of, regardless of the outcome.

“I think we can make reading and writing better for everybody,” Petty says. “And if we really focus on people with disabilities, and we understand what works for them, we can bring those designs and solutions to our products that benefit everyone.”

Once the team came together, they shared a common drive to finish what they started.

“At no point did we think we were not going to ship,” Petty says. “OneNote was not interested in doing this as an experiment. Hackathon forced us to create a prototype they could polish to take it to schools in the fall.”

During the three very intense days of the //oneweek Hackathon, everyone on the team met each other for the first time, working practically nonstop under the Redmond tents that housed 3,000 people during the working sessions. Having the Vancouver-based OneNote development members – Greaves, Dominik Messinger and Pelle Nielsen – join the rest of the team was critical to their success.

“We could not have done it without them being there,” Petty says. “It was a completely different way of working, to get rapid feedback and iterate and iterate and iterate. We’d give them protected blocks of time where they got no additional feedback. Then we’d come back together for joint review. We were doing iterations while they were coding, then we had to decide to either refine functionality or bring new features. There is no way we could have made the same progress had we not all been there.”

At the Hackathon, the team also met the mother of a daughter who has severe dyslexia, working with another team. She believed what the OneNote for Learning team was doing was going to make a difference, and her reaction gave them even more confidence they were on the right track.

And for developer and team member Dominik Messinger, whose native language isn’t English, the project provided him with better tools to improve his own language skills, such as dividing words into semantic units for better comprehension – and pronunciation.

“I caught myself reading out some notes for OneNote documentation, and just listening to it, discovered some words I’ve totally pronounced wrong. Text to speech is pretty useful,” Messinger jokes. “Also, having short term goals and having all this energy, coding really fast and collaborating really, really fast – that was quite an experience. We can be proud of what we achieved in so few days.”

For the whole team, the Hackathon exemplified the best things about being able to tap into the entire company for resources.

“I think there’s a lot of strength in working across orgs and teams, and getting to work with people we might otherwise not get to work with, such as the accessibility team,” Nielsen says. “Learning how important it is to choose the right color scheme or font was eye opening.”

While everyone brought their own strengths to the project, its ultimate purpose served as a north star that maintained the team’s focus.

“We wanted to make sure this was a non-stigmatizing feature. This is something anybody could use. Someone using the extension wouldn’t raise a big red flag that they’ve got a disability,” Nielsen says. “For me, the most important thing was recognizing the value of our goal. It doesn’t matter how cool the tech is if it doesn’t help anyone. That’s what is so compelling about this project. We’re making learning easier for every single student.”"
microsoft  onenote  reading  howweread  immersivereadin  dyslexia  2015  education  literacy  readability  mirashah  assistivetechnology 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Google Released An Amazing Speech to Text Feature in Google Docs ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning
"Voice Typing is another interesting new feature Google released a few day ago. Google Docs’ users can now type with their voice. You can write an entire essay without having to touch the keyboard. You can even use punctuation with voice typing. There are several phrases you can choose from to punctuate your text (e.g ‘period’,’comma’, ‘exclamation mark’, ‘question mark’, ‘new line’, ‘new paragraph’.

Voice tying for Google Docs is only available on computers using a Chrome browser. To start using Voice typing, you need to have a working microphone then open a document in your Chrome browser and click on Tools and select Voice typing as shown in the screenshot below."
assistivetechnology  classideas  speechrecognition  voice  googledocs  dictation  2015  via:ablerism  chrome 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The Hidden Burden of Exoskeletons for the Disabled - The Atlantic
"“We’re at a cultural moment where young people who are going into technology are looking around for research where they can feel purpose,” says Sara Hendren, an artist, designer, and researcher based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who specializes in assistive-design projects. When they encounter assistive technologies like prosthetics and exoskeletons, she explains, they think they’ve found something that seems like pure good.

“But the problem is that patients are so marginalized from defining their own wishes, that you risk replicating that same top-down assumptions about what people want.” Hendren uses cochlear implants as an example: Inventors assume that a person must want to hear, because they can’t imagine another possibility—but in reality, the Deaf community is quite vibrant, and not everyone feels the need for an implant.

Hendren points out that that putting too much focus on these kinds of devices can also create the idea that there is a “successful” disabled person: that someone who can use an exoskeleton to walk, or a prosthetic limb to run, has succeeded more than someone who cannot. “I worry that an excessive focus on this technology risks romanticizing bootstrapping and overcomer stories,” she says. “I don’t want to diminish what they do, but I don’t want to live in a world where there’s a continued repulsion around dependence. I want to live in a world where it’s okay to ask for help.”

Exoskeletons aren’t the only project that illustrates this issue. Hendren remembers a person who suggested that those in wheelchairs could perhaps carry their own ramps around in case they want to go somewhere that isn’t wheelchair-accessible. Aside from the fact that different settings require different ramps, these sorts of solutions put the onus on the individual to make something usable, rather than on the community. Why should each wheelchair have to come with a toolbox in order to be able to get anywhere?"
sarahendren  disability  2015  design  accessibility  prosthetics  exoskeletons  deaf  deafness  difference  wheelchairs  ramps  technology  bootstrapping  overcomers  dependence  assistance  assistivetechnology  disabilities 
august 2015 by robertogreco
the blind man's stick - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement, by Lambros Malafouris, is a maddening but also fascinating book that is seriously helping me to think through some of the issues that concern me. Malafouris wants to argue that the human mind is “embodied, extended, enacted, and distributed” — extensive rather than intensive in its fundamental character.

He starts his exploration wonderfully: by considering a thought-experiment that Maurice Merleau-Ponty first posited in his Phenomenology of Perception. Merleau-Ponty asks us to imagine a blind man navigating a city street with a cane. What is the relationship between that cane and the man’s perceptual apparatus? Or, as Gregory Bateson put it in Steps to an Ecology of Mind,
Consider a blind man with a stick. Where does the blind man's self begin? At the tip of the stick? At the handle of the stick? Or at some point halfway up the stick? These questions are nonsense, because the stick is a pathway along which differences are transmitted under transformation, so that to draw a delimiting line across this pathway is to cut off a part of the systemic circuit which determines the blind man's locomotion.

(Bateson does not mention and probably was not aware of Merleau-Ponty.) For Malafouris the example of the blind man’s cane suggests that “what is outside the head may not necessarily be outside the mind.... I see no compelling reason why the study of the mind should stop at the skin or at the skull. It would, I suggest, be more productive to explore the hypothesis that human intelligence ‘spreads out’ beyond the skin into culture and the material world.” Moreover, things in the material world embody intentions and purposes — Malafouris thinks they actually have intentions and purposes, a view I think is misleading and sloppy — and these come to be part of the mind: they don't just influence it, they help constitute it.
I believe this example provides one of the best diachronic exemplars of what I call the gray zone of material engagement, i.e., the zone in which brains, bodies, and things conflate, mutually catalyzing and constituting one another. Mind, as the anthropologist Gregory Bateson pointed out, “is not limited by the skin,” and that is why Bateson was able to recognize the stick as a “pathway” instead of a boundary. Differentiating between “inside” and “outside” makes no real sense for the blind man. As Bateson notes, “the mental characteristics of the system are immanent, not in some part, but in the system as a whole.”

If we were to take this model seriously, then we would need to narrate the rise of modernity differently than we’ve been narrating it — proceeding in a wholly different manner than the three major stories I mentioned in my previous post. Among other things, we’d need to be ready to see the Oppenheimer Principle as having a far stronger motive role in history than is typical.

When I talk this way, some people tell me that they think I'm falling into technological determinism. Not so. Rather, it's a matter of taking with proper seriousness the power that some technologies have to shape culture. And that's not because they think or want, nor because we are their slaves. Rather, people make them for certain purposes, and either those makers themselves have socio-political power or the technologies fall into the hands of people who have socio-political power, so that the technologies are put to work in society. We then have the option to accept the defaults or undertake the difficult challenge of hacking the inherited tools — bending them in a direction unanticipated and unwanted by those who deployed them.

To write the technological history of modernity is to investigate how our predecessors have received the technologies handed to them, or used upon them, by the powerful; and also, perhaps, to investigate how countercultural tech has risen up from below to break up the one-way flow of power. These are things worth knowing for anyone who is uncomfortable with the dominant paradigm we live under now."
alanjacobs  2015  technology  modernity  blind  blindness  lambrosmalafouris  mauricemerleau-ponty  gregorybateson  oppenheimerprinciple  culture  assistivetechnology  disability  mind  materiality  bodies  body  disabilities 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Assistive Technologies and Design: An Interview with Sara Hendren | superflux
"SF: You think a lot about the "the future of human bodies in the built environment". What are the most important insights you have gained in your research so far, about how the human body and prosthetics adapt to the built environment, or the other way around? How can we design a more symbiotic relationship, that is inclusive, but also unique to individuals?

SH: Those are questions I think about all the time! I’d say broadly that design researchers need much, much more user interview data than we have now—too often there’s a very small sampling of data that’s used to represent human-centered design research with user-experts. Because aging and sightedness and autism and so many other conditions are wildly various, we need much bigger and more robust data sets for understanding wayfinding and product use. See Boston’s Institute for Human-Centered Design’s new user expert lab as an example. They want to be as large a resource as possible, and one that clients can access and pay for when doing market research.

I also think there’s so much more thinking to be done at the systems level, rather than at the product level—but it should be systems research where designers and artists are key contributors at every stage. I think, for example, in cultures like the US and the UK, there’s a pretty narrow focus on individual independence as the only goal worth seeking out—and that independence is thought to be delivered solely via personal technological devices.

But what about community support programs that would be points of contact throughout a city, for help when a person with developmental disabilities needs help after a bus line has been rerouted, or when an elderly person needs assistance getting groceries in the door/shoveling snow? These kinds of systems would help people get and stay employed and stay in their homes for longer than might otherwise be the case.



"SF: What according to you are the drivers / weak signals / to which inclusive design for cities should be paying attention? From a technological, as well as social and cultural perspective?

SH: I think designers should first try to be more granular in their approach to “canonical” disabilities: blindness, deafness, and so on. I’d think, for example, about the gradations of sightedness that tend to get overlooked in tech for vision impairments: Most people who are technically blind, after all, *do* have some kind of visual field. They see high contrasts or bright lights only, perhaps. But they don’t operate in total darkness and they do use their vision to see.  There’s much more to be done with design accordingly, especially with *editing* cities for enriched use. Like: consider the high-contrast black and yellow markers along stairs and crosswalks and subway platforms and so on. What would users say about making those more tactile environments—even more than they are now? What else would they like to see in structural and architectural forms that could be better imagined or augmented, again with partial and low vision in mind? This would also address aging and the overall slow degeneration in vision as well."
sarahendren  2014  assistivetechnology  technology  design  community  blindness  deafness  impairment  disability  vision  aging  sight  sightedness  autism  difference  disabilities 
may 2015 by robertogreco
investigating normal. | Abler.
"SYLLABUS

ENGR 3299 Investigating Normal: Adaptive and Assistive Technologies

Assistive technologies usually refer to prosthetics and medical aids: tools, devices, and other gear that either restore or augment the functioning of body parts. Historically, these have been designed for people with diagnosable disabilities. In this course, we look at medical as well as cultural tools that investigate the “normal” body and mind, and we design our own devices—high-tech, low-tech, digital or analog—with these ideas in mind. Through readings, site visits, guest speakers, and projects, we investigate both traditional and unusual prosthetics and assistive technologies, broadly defined. We talk to end-users, to engineers and industrial designers, to artists, and to others whose technologies assist with visible and invisible needs, externalize hidden dynamics, and create capacities far beyond or outside ordinary functionality.

Key to our discussions will be the implicit and explicit narratives that get created by and with prosthetic technologies. We’ll look at popular prosthetic tools and examine how their users “perform” them, keeping economic and socio-political factors in mind. We’ll also investigate the ways these narratives get lumped together or distinguished from the available and popular cultural narratives about the cyborg self, about human-machine interfaces in general. With this analysis in mind, I’ll ask you to consider new possibilities for manufacturable prosthetic and medical technologies in the interest of better treatment, especially if that’s where your personal interest lies. But I’ll also ask you to engage in what’s been called interrogative design, or critical design, or resonant design: that is, problem finding as well as problem solving; suspending questions by pressing together, in one artifact or set of artifacts, seemingly disparate or opposing ideas; thinking about what Anthony Dunne calls “para-functionality”: design that lives among recognizable realms of utility, but expands, as he says, beyond conventional definitions of functionalism to include the poetic, or activist, or socio-political.

The class themes are heterogeneous in the first half of the course—on purpose. With visitors and projects and readings, we’ll jump quickly between and among high-tech, low-tech, practical and impractical tools and wearables. The idea is to have you exposed to as many dispositions for making your projects as possible. This “field” is very wide indeed, and its generativity is still under-recognized. Be ready for some zigs and zags along the way, but the goal is to help you elicit your own questions as potential engineers in this broad research space.

It’s worth mentioning right up front that you should divest yourself of the common and well-intended—but utterly misguided—earnestness that drives many designers’ assumptions about “assistive technology.” It may be tempting to find some technical novelty or functional gadget and then, only afterward, look for an application “for the disabled.” I’ve seen too many projects in this vein lately.

Be aware, first, that a central tenet of this class is that all technology is assistive technology: No matter what kind of body you inhabit, you are getting assistance from your devices and extensions and proxies every single day. And second, gird yourself with a proper humility: Ask lots of questions, do the research on precedent tools, and respect the stunning sensory organism that is the living, breathing, adaptive human body. White canes, ankle braces, and assistance animals, after all, are extraordinarily sophisticated prostheses. Digital tools offer unique capabilities, yes—but they’re not inherently “smart” because of their digital nature. The point here is to see ability and disability as an exciting, expansive lens with which to think about many bodies and many kinds of needs.

Finally: This video with Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor is a kind of manifesto, a solid frame from which the ethos of the course proceeds. Please watch early and often:"
sarahendren  syllabus  2015  normal  adaptive  technology  assistivetechnology  adaptivetechnology  anthonydunne  judithbutler  sunauratayor  earnestness  disability  difference  bodies  human  prosthetics  para-functionality  design  disabilities  body  syllabi 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Your Nostalgia Isn’t Helping Me Learn — The Synapse — Medium
[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:fe14a9668c31 ]

"These stories keep popping up, recycling the same studies and confirming someone’s intuition that the “good old-fashioned way” is better.

But contrary to these claims, I would not have made it through my years of university courses without the technology I use every day. And I don’t mean specific “assistive technology” designed with “disabilities” in mind. I’m talking here about the notes I make on my phone when I’m chatting with someone, which serve as an extension of my brain — the course project documents, folders of articles, collected syllabi, images, screenshots, and more that are always available on my laptop or anywhere through my synchronized folders.

I rely on the over 170 notebooks in Evernote where I practically wrote my entire MA thesis and where I track all current projects, personal and academic. I worked a full time job for much of my undergraduate education and part of my MA and was able to do this because of the ability to search through all 70,000+ email messages from the last 15 years, the ability to search inside a journal article, search a PDF of a book and copy/paste the text. This technology is assistive for me as a student very simply because all technology is assistive technology.



“Research Shows”

Surely we can agree then that all technology is assistive. But what about in the classroom? What’s missing from these popular articles when they claim technology is a distraction in the classroom? How do they conclude assistive technology is getting in the way of learning when so many students like myself rely on it? And what are the consequences of banning technology in the classroom?

I’ll start by taking that article from Vox and looking at some of the claims. After that, I’ll look at what’s happening in classrooms where technology is banned.

I. The Vox article defines learning as remembering information. That’s funny, because learning is not memorizing, and I think all educators would agree on that.

At the same time that many educators will tell us testing misses the mark in evaluating students and that learning isn’t about facts and figures but about critical thinking skills, articles like this are shared widely with the opposite message: learning is your “ability to remember information.” But it isn’t, it’s your ability to synthesize information, think critically, and evaluate claims.

II. This article claims the problem with taking notes on laptops is that students “usually just mindlessly type everything a professor says.” But this isn’t actually a claim about taking notes on laptops vs. paper notebooks, this is an issue of note taking skills. I wouldn’t conflate the Vox article with the study it cites here, but on this point what Vox reports matches the abstract of the study quite well. I don’t agree, instead I’d suggest that if you have good note taking skills you can take good notes in any format.

If you are taught to discern what matters in a lecture or discussion or while reading, you can learn to take useful notes about anything in any format. This problem they bring up of students acting as stenographers is an issues of learning to learn, learning to think critically and yes these are skills that students need. The fact that they don’t have them certainly isn’t the fault of laptops, in fact we should be grateful that we can see they don’t have them by how they are (mis)using the laptops. As educators do we really like the idea that students can only decide what matters because “they can’t write fast enough to get everything down”?

III. The article says students who use laptops “have something unrelated to class” on the screen about 40% of the time. So…. they’re actually talking about a failure to “learn” among students who aren’t using the technology to engage in the class at all? These students are chatting with friends, shopping, doing whatever. So, what does this have to do with the technology or taking notes on a laptop? What does this have to do with using a laptop to learn? Nothing. But still, we get this summary “Research shows students who use laptops perform more poorly in classes.”

IV. Of course, the whole argument is all summed up as common sense, validated by science! What could go wrong with that and with popular reporting about it? If science AND common sense are clear on this — well, it must be true for all students, or maybe not? It certainly isn’t true for me or for other students I’ve seen and spoken with.

I’m picking on this Vox article because it is precisely this kind of article that is shared on Facebook and Twitter and through email lists, without being carefully read, without being critically analyzed. And it winds up standing in for well thought out technology policy and pedagogy in classrooms. I think it’s pretty ironic that the same people who get so excited about the article’s title (“Why you should take notes by hand — not on a laptop”) because it validates their pre-existing distrust of “technology” (i.e. everything invented after they were born), these same people then fail to think critically about the argument in the article. Hmmm…. Maybe they’re actually the ones who have trouble thinking critically when using a laptop?"



"Classrooms on the Anti-Tech Bandwagon

I’m now seeing Professors jumping on this bandwagon and proudly banning technology in the classroom. And even those who don’t are giving students lectures in class about how we should ban e-books at the university library, and telling students who use laptops in class they should really be writing in a notebook, that is, if they really want to learn… Faculty are even adding notes to their syllabi …"



"The pressure to use “real books” and write in a notebook (preferably a moleskine, right?) has emerged as part of a growing anti-technology fetish among academics, and popular culture broadly. I get the appeal and I love books! I would love it if I could do that, I want all paper books, a room full of them, with ferns and armchairs and whisky and whatever — but it just isn’t how I learn. And it’s expensive, and you have to move them around. And you can’t search in them in the same way. The more precarious academic lives become the more a book collection is a luxury many can’t afford in terms of cost and other factors.

For students like me, technology use in the classroom comes down to a question of how we learn. I need to be able to search a book, copy and paste passages. I’m a scholar because I have technology that allows me to organize, sort, and synthesize information that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to work with. I didn’t learn to be a scholar with paper and pen, or with a typewriter. And I wouldn’t have been able to make it through my degree programs, and excel at my studies, write a thesis, publish papers — without being able to use this technology. I, and many students out there like me, rely on laptops, tablets, phones, and online software in the classroom because it is all assistive technology."
michaeloman-reagan  notes  notetaking  assistivetechnology  ableism  laptops  education  technology  notebooks  memorization  learning  howwelearn  engagement  thinking  howwethink  howweteach  media  2015  typing  handwriting  copying  summarizing  transcribing  sarahendren  commonsense 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Michael Oman-Reagan on Twitter: "In which I point out some issues w/ a "you learn better without a laptop!" article. #ableism https://t.co/q49L9TfetU http://t.co/3gfwk5Db48"
[Update: This has now been expanded into an article: https://medium.com/synapse/your-nostalgia-isn-t-helping-me-learn-141bd0939153 ]

"In which I point out some issues w/ a "you learn better without a laptop!" article. #ableism https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578393387667206145 "

[In response to “To Remember More, Take Notes by Hand — Not on a Laptop: http://bit.ly/1AHy97v pic.twitter.com/0qewhIKsAU
https://twitter.com/calestous/status/578390475217973249 ” ]

"Or not, depending on how you learn, think, act, what media you're engaging with, etc. @calestous @SallieHanAnthro"
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578393387667206145

"While we're on it - let's look at what's going on in this article about taking notes in writing vs typing: http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578396742758084609

"First: They define learning as remembering information. Huh? Learning =/= memorizing. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop pic.twitter.com/GSJs0llaN5 "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578397319701348352

"Second: They aren't talking abt laptops vs notebooks, they're talking abt note taking skills. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop pic.twitter.com/RjrF01IBdF "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578397705476665345

"Third: They're talking abt students who aren't using tech to be engaged in the class at all. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop pic.twitter.com/1QOfoHORIs "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578398374866628608

"And finally, of course, it's common sense, validated by science. What could go wrong... http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop pic.twitter.com/VbvJHdoKqi "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578398820377186304

"Of course what's wrong is they are ignoring fact that the tech is assistive for students who know how to use it. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578399129073774592

"So the key is to teach people how to use the tech. Not use those who take useless notes and shop as excuse. http://www.vox.com/2014/6/4/5776804/note-taking-by-hand-versus-laptop "
https://twitter.com/OmanReagan/status/578399523581620224
michaeloman-reagan  notes  notetaking  assistivetechnology  ableism  laptops  education  technology  notebooks  memorization  learning  howwelearn  engagement  thinking  howwethink  howweteach  media  2015  typing  handwriting  copying  summarizing  transcribing 
march 2015 by robertogreco
All Technology is Assistive — Backchannel — Medium
"You might imagine that “disability studies” is just one more category of identity research that’s been created primarily for political advocacy, interesting only to those directly affected by issues of accessibility, accommodation, or special rights. But “disabled-ness” is another matter altogether. There are at least two big reasons why disability concerns are everyone’s concerns.

First, it’s a false divide to make a we/them: either able-minded, able-bodied, or disabled. After all, how cultures define, think about, and treat those who currently have marked disabilities is how all its future citizens may well be perceived if and when those who are able-bodied become less abled than they are now: by age, degeneration, or some sudden — or gradual — change in physical or mental capacities. All people, over the course of their lives, traffic between times of relative independence and dependence. So the questions cultures ask, the technologies they invent, and how those technologies broadcast a message about their users — weakness and strength, agency and passivity — are critical ones. And they’re not just questions for scientists and policy-makers; they’re aesthetic questions too.

Second, in many cultures — and certainly in the US — a pervasive, near-obsession with averages and statistical norms about bodies and capacities has become a naturalized form of describing both individuals and populations. But this way of measuring people and populations is historically very recent, and worth reconsidering."



"Well — it’s worth saying again: All technology is assistive technology. Honestly — what technology are you using that’s not assistive? Your smartphone? Your eyeglasses? Headphones? And those three examples alone are assisting you in multiple registers: They’re enabling or augmenting a sensory experience, say, or providing navigational information. But they’re also allowing you to decide whether to be available for approach in public, or not; to check out or in on a conversation or meeting in a bunch of subtle ways; to identify, by your choice of brand or look, with one culture group and not another.

Making a persistent, overt distinction about “assistive tech” embodies the second-tier do-gooderism and banality that still dominate design work targeted toward “special needs.” “Assistive technology” implies a separate species of tools designed exclusively for those people with a rather narrow set of diagnostic “impairments” — impairments, in other words, that have been culturally designated as needing special attention, as being particularly, grossly abnormal. But are you sure your phone isn’t a crutch, as it were, for a whole lot of unexamined needs?"



"In the name of good friction, then, I want to suggest some possible dispositions for designers and artists taking a look at ability and disability.

1. Invisibility is overrated.



2. Rethink the default bodily experience.



3. Consider fine gradations of qualitative change.



4. Uncouple medical technologies from their diagnostic contexts.



5. Design for one.



6. And this is perhaps the most important: Let the tools you make ask questions, not just solve problems."

[Previous versions/references here:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:7cf533b38f8e
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:cf3e53f397e3 (now gone) ]

[See also this exchange: https://twitter.com/quinnnorton/status/523744699983478784 ]
sarahendren  2014  technology  assistivetechnology  disability  ablerism  activism  design  audiencesofone  tolls  askingquestions  canon  experience  bodies  humans  norms  standards  standardization  individualization  personalization  bellcurve  normalcy  normalness  lennarddavis  ideal  dependence  independence  questionasking  disabilities  body 
october 2014 by robertogreco
An Alphabet of Accessibility Issues – The Pastry Box Project
"This alphabet soup of accessibility is not a collection of personas. These are friends and family I love. Sometimes I’m describing a group. (One can only describe chemo brain so many times.) Some people are more than one letter. (Yay genetic lottery.) Some represent stages people were in 10 years ago and some stages we know they will hit — we just don’t know when.

Robin Christopherson (@usa2day) points out that many of us are only temporarily able-bodied. I’ve seen this to be true. At any given moment, we could be juggling multiple tasks that take an eye or an ear or a finger away. We could be exhausted or sick or stressed. Our need for an accessible web might last a minute, an hour, a day, or the rest of our lives. We never know.

We never know who. We never know when.

We just know that when it’s our turn to be one of the twenty-six, we will want the web to work. So today, we need to make simple, readable, effective content. Today, we make sure all our auditory content has a transcript, or makes sense without one. Today, we need to make our shopping carts and logins and checkouts friendly to everyone. Today, we need to design with one thought to the color blind, one thought to the photosensitive epileptic, and one thought to those who will magnify our screens. Today we need to write semantic HTML and make pages that can be navigated by voice, touch, mouse, keyboard, and stylus.

Tomorrow, it’s a new alphabet."
accessibility  ux  webdesign  webdev  2014  annegibson  abilities  ability  disability  technology  assistivetechnology  disabilities 
september 2014 by robertogreco
guiding principles for an adaptive technology working group | Abler.
"I’ve been thinking about the studio/lab/workshop environment I want to foster at Olin. So herewith a manifesto, or a set of guiding principles, for young engineers and designers working critically, reflexively, in technology design and disability.

1. We use the terms “adaptive” and “assistive” technologies interchangeably when speaking casually or with newcomers to this field, but we use the terms of adaptation as often as possible. Why? Assistance usually implies linearity. A problem needs fixing, seeks a solution. But adaptation is flexible, rhizomatic, multi-directional. It implies a technological design that works in tandem, reciprocally, with the magnificence that is the human body in all its forms. Adaptation implies change over time. Adaptive systems might require the environment to shift, rather than the body. In short, we believe that all technology is assistive technology—and so we speak in terms of adaptation.

2. We presume competence. This exhortation is a central one in disability rights circles, and we proceed with it in mind as we work with our design partners. We don’t claim our end-users are “suffering from” their conditions—unless they tell us they are. We speak directly to users themselves, not to caregivers or companions—unless we’re directed to do so. We speak the way we’d speak to anyone, even if our partners don’t use verbal language in return—until they request we do otherwise. We take a capabilities approach.

3. We are significantly public-facing in our disposition. Doing open and public research—including in the early stages—is central to our conviction that design for disability carries with it enormous political and cultural stakes. We research transparently, and we cultivate multiple and unusual publics for the work.

4. We spend some of our time making things, and some of our time making things happen.¹ A lot of our effort is embodied in the design and prototyping process. But another significant portion of that effort is directed toward good narrative writing, documentation, event-wrangling, and networked practices. Design can be about a better mousetrap; it can also be—and indeed more often should be—a social practice.

5. We actively seek a condition of orchestrated adjacencies: in topics, scales, and methods. Some of our projects attempt to influence industry: better designs, full stop. And some of our projects address issues of culture: symbolic, expressive, and playful work that investigates normalcy and functionality. We want high-tech work right up alongside low-tech work. Cardboard at one end, and circuits and Arduino at the other. Materially and symbolically, adjacencies in real time create unusual resonances between and among projects. They expand the acceptable questions and categories of what counts as research. They force big-picture ideas to cohere with granular problem-solving.

6. We presume, always, that technology is never neutral. And accordingly, we seek to create tools for conviviality, in the sense that Ivan Illich laid out in his book of the same name. Tools that are “accessible, flexible, noncoercive.” We won’t be perfect at it, but we won’t shy away from hard questions: What will it cost? What might be unintended consequences? What have we overlooked?

Like life, this version is subject to change. More on the studio/lab/workshop in this earlier post.

1. “I went from making things, to making things happen.” That’s artist Jeremy Deller on how his art practice went from objects to conditions and situations."
art  design  making  sarahendren  2014  assistivetechnology  adaptivetechnology  olincollege  manifestos  rhizomes  adaptation  human  humans  bodies  criticaldesign  conviviality  ivanilllich  normalcy  functionality  orchestratedadjacencies  hitech  lowtech  agency  makers  socialpractice  transparency  questionasking  askingquestions  jeremydeller  studios  lcproject  openstudioproject  howwework  ethics  ideals  disability  disabilities  differences  time  change  conversation  principles  adaptive  body  low-tech 
august 2014 by robertogreco
studio : lab : workshop | Abler.
"I’ve been saying for some years now that my wish is to be as close to science-making as possible: that is, not merely teaching complementary art and design practices for young scientists in training, but to be in the formative stages of research and development much further upstream in the process. Asking collaboratively: What research questions are worthy questions? What populations and individuals hold stakes in these questions? Are there important queries that are forgotten? Could parallel questions be pursued in tandem—some quantitative, others qualitative? And how do we engage multiple publics in high-stakes research?"

To put it another way: What happens when extra-disciplinary inquiry lives alongside traditional forms of research—especially when those traditional forms occupy the disciplinarily privileged status of the STEM fields? Inviting both generalist and specialist approaches starts to hint at what a “both-and” disposition could look like. As here in David Gray’s formulation of specialists and generalists:

[image]

Breadth, he says, is the characteristic of the generalist, and depth the characteristic of the specialist. A thriving academic research program surely needs both: but not just in the forms of symposia, scholarly ethics, or data visualization to (once more) “complement” or even complicate the science. It’s the last note of Gray’s that I’m particularly paying attention to, because it’s what good critical design and hybrid arts practices often do best: They act as boundary objects.

Gray says those objects can be “documents, models, maps, vocabulary, or even physical environments” that mark these intersections of broad and deep ideas. Well, I’d say: especially physical environments and phenomena. At the scale of products or screens or architectural spaces, these objects can act as powerful mediators and conduits for ideas. They can become modes of discourse, opportunities for public debate, sites of disciplinary flows.

It’s these kinds of objects that I’d like to be a feature of the studio/lab/workshop I’ll bring to Olin: An ongoing pursuit of ideas-in-things that live at all the various points along a continuum between practical use, on the one hand, and symbolic or expressive power on the other. Two poles in the manner still most accessibly captured by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby—both of which I’d like to be present.

And what does this mean for the habits of mind we cultivate? I return often to the ideas of Jack Miles in this essay—also about generalists and specialists, with a key useful heuristic: that specialists tend to embody the disposition of farmers, while generalists tend to embody the virtues of hunters. Both are necessary, and both need each other. The careful tending to a field whose needs are more or less known, protected, and nurtured further, on the one hand. And the more landscape-crossing, round-the-next-bend pursuit of the not yet known and its promised nourishment, on the other.

I want students to try out and value both operative modes, no matter where their own career paths take them. Knowing that others are also asking valuable questions in different disciplinary ways ideally breeds humility: a sense that what one has to offer could be enriched when conjoined in conversation with others whose expertise may not be immediately legible from within a silo.

And not just humility: I want students in engineering to know that their practices can be both private and public, that their status as citizens can be catalyzed through making things. Things that may be practical, performative, or both.

In practical terms, we’ll be looking at labs like Tom Bieling’s Design Abilities group in Berlin, Ryerson’s EDGE Lab, the Age and Ability Lab at RCA, and the newly-formed Ability Lab at NYU Poly. But we’ll also be looking methodologically at Kate Hartman’s Social Body Lab at OCAD, at the CREATE group at Carnegie Mellon, and of course Natalie Jeremijenko’s Environmental Health Clinic.

Possible paths to pursue: A “design for one” stream of prosthetic devices made for one user’s self-identified wish or need. An ongoing partnership with any of a number of schools or clinics in the Boston area where provisional and low-tech assistive devices could make education more responsive to children’s up-to-the-minute developmental needs. Short-term residencies and workshops with critical engineers and artists working with technology and public life. Public, investigative performances and installations that address issues of ability, dependence, and the body in the built environment.

These things will take time! I can’t wait to begin."
sarahendren  2014  olincollege  design  specialization  specialists  generalists  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  engineering  stem  davidgray  research  academia  extra-disciplinary  ability  dependence  audiencesofone  jackmiles  anthonydunne  fionaraby  dunne&raby  ablerism  events  nataliejeremijenko  tombieling  kateharman  prosthetics  abilities  disability  designcriticism  criticaldesign  speculativedesign  humility  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  accessibility  assistivetechnology  discourse  conversation  openstudioproject  lcproject  howwelearn  howweteach  disabilities 
june 2014 by robertogreco
How Did We Get Into This Mess?: Handwriting with Tears; Don't cry for cursive.
"Handwriting is going away. Not scribbling quick notes on pads, but the era of formal cursive handwriting, the very form of handwriting that seems to most provide these neurological benefits, is coming to an end.

The solution is not to lament the loss of cursive and not to force kids to learn cursive anyway, despite its lack of utility, but rather to find other means to stimulate related neurological processes. Is it art? Is it rock climbing? Is it baking bread? I don't know, but let's not confuse means with outcome."
assistivetechnology  dyslexia  handwriting  ableism  davidperry  rickgodden  cursive  via:ablerism 
june 2014 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: The Wilful Ignorance of Richard Allington
"Now, since "Doctor" Allington has called me a "cheater" and "illiterate" - let me list my credentials - and I will argue that these are contemporary - post-Gutenberg - credentials. Sure "Doctor," I struggle mightily with decoding alphabetical text, and sure, unless I am drawing my letters, copying them in fact, my writing is just about useless, and - well, to go further, I've never learned to "keyboard" with more than one finger. So yes, "Doctor," by your standards I can neither read nor write. And to get around that I do indeed "cheat." I use digital text-to-speech tools, from WYNN to WordTalk to Balabolka to Click-Speak and I use audiobooks all the time, whether from Project Gutenberg or LibriVox or Audible. Yes, I "cheat" by writing with Windows Speech Recognition and Android Speech Recognition and the SpeakIt Chrome extension.

And "Doctor," I not only use them, I encourage students all over the United States, all around the world in fact, to cheat with these tools as well. I've even helped develop a free suite of tools for American students to support that "cheating."

But beyond that, I'll match my scholarship with "Doctor" Allington's anytime, including my "deeply read" knowledge of the history of American education, and my "actual" - Grounded Theory Research - with real children in real schools in real - non-laboratory, non-abusive-control-group - situations.

And beyond that, I tend to think I'm as "well read" as any non-literature major around. So if the "Doctor" wants to debate James Joyce or Seamus Heaney or current Booker Prize shortlist fiction, or argue over why American schools often teach literature and the real part of reading, the understanding - so badly, I think I'll be able to hold my own."
irasocol  2013  richardallington  literacy  multiliteracies  credentialism  assistivetechnology  learning  education  accommodations  testing  speechrecognition  gutenbergparenthesis  audiobooks  cheating  specialeducation  commoncore  universaldesign 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Pretty Ramp Machine — Weird Future — Medium
"Unlike its siblings, which must rotate or be used as an active tool to perform work, the plane lies still. It barely seems like a machine at all. “I’ve been calling it a ‘sleeping machine’ for that reason,” says Hendren, who focuses her work on disability studies. It’s “a static object, deceptive in its simple geometry.”

Hendren calls herself a public amateur. Her research and practice, documented on her website, is a riot of associations that cross the lines between high-end design, architecture, medical theory, prosthetics, and cybernetics. Spend some time with Hendren and you’ll find yourself in a conversation that veers wildly between fashionable hearing aids, Braille tattoos, the design of space suits, the relation of curb cuts to gentrification, and the origins of the smooth curves of the Eames Chair in the lacquered wooden leg splint that Charles and Ray designed for the US Navy.

Her own projects tend toward the informal and the temporary. She seeks out what she calls the margins of design: work that’s happening away from the spotlight of the mainstream tech and design press, “either because they’re made of low-cost materials, or in informally organized settings, or because they happen in the context of, say, special education.” Her low-tech approach allows her to intervene and launch discussions in graphic design, architecture, and prosthetics.

“All of these fields are professionalized for good reasons — standardization of practice and form,” she says. “But you can easily get some calcification around the ‘proper channels’ for the way things are done.”

“Defining what counts as health, as normative experience, as quality of life — these are easily as much cultural questions as they are about statistics and data,” she says. “I want the latitude, as an amateur, to also ask those questions in public, to engage with specialties as much as possible as an outsider.”



"She explains that in disability studies, there is a growing distinction between the medical model of disability and the social model. In the medical model, people with atypical bodies are seen as being impaired. In the social model, the problem isn’t with the bodies, but with the environment that was built around them.

After all, the environment we live in didn’t just leap out of the ground from whole cloth. Cities were designed and then built a certain way; they could have been built differently. In the social model, “people are disabled, but by the built environment, schools, transportation, economic structures having evolved to offer only the rather narrow goods that a late capitalist culture presumes,” says Hendren. “So we nurture some bodies, and we tolerate others.” If stairs were 5' tall, just about everyone on earth would be disabled."



"In the social model, disability is a matter of circumstances rather than a fundamental diagnosis about any particular body. It’s a state that we pass into and out of depending on what’s going on with us and the environment we’re in. If you are in possession of a relatively typical body and have found yourself blocked by a door because your arms were full, you’ll have a sense of what it means to be temporarily disabled.

If, laden by packages, you’ve ever hip-checked one of those buttons adorned by a wheelchair logo, you’ll have a sense of the degree to which the environment plays a role in enabling or disabling you. The automatic door is not an accommodation for special cases but a useful feature for everyone."



“What I want is much more energy and imagination given to questions of access and use — not tiresome and medicalized ‘accommodations,’ but edited cities where alternate bodies are assumed to be part of the landscape, and where the use of structures and tools might be less scripted,” she says.

Hendren reads a passage from Susan Wendell’s The Rejected Body.
Not only do physically disabled people have experiences which are not available to the able-bodied, they are in a better position to transcend cultural mythologies about the body, because they cannot do things the able-bodied feel they must do in order to be happy, “normal,” and sane…
If disabled people were truly heard, an explosion of knowledge of the human body and psyche would take place.

“I would take out ‘physically’ from the first sentence and add cognition/development to this idea as well,” Hendren says.

In the medical model of disability, this attitude is almost impossible to understand and feels pretty patronizing. After all, aren’t people with disabilities missing out? In the medical model, resistance in the deaf community to cochlear implants seems incomprehensible.

The point, says Hendren, is that we all get the same number of hours per day. “It’s as simple as: some experiences you’re having, and some you’re not,” she says. “You are not having rather more or rather less, unless you arrange your metrics in a lazy way.”

Hendren thinks designers and architects can do better. “It’s possible to have a very ‘correct’ idea about accommodations, provisions for schooling and such, and still presume a medical model,” says Hendren. “You can carry around the notion that a democratic society is one in which everyone thrives — regardless of productivity, regardless of capacity — and want to provide for those ‘needs.’”

“But it’s a much more radical notion to start to think about the ways structures have been un-imagined or preemptively imagined without much variation in body or mind. What would it mean to really profoundly undo our sense of which bodies count?”
sarahendren  timmaly  disability  disabilities  design  amateurs  amateurism  professionals  professionalization  imagination  access  cities  health  society  education  art  democracy  architecture  ada  capacity  productivity  davidedgerton  chrisdowney  bodies  diversity  assistivetechnology  susanwendell  galileo  ramps  inclinedplanes  standardization  brianglenny  blind  blindness  urban  urbandesign  urbanism  body 
december 2013 by robertogreco
​Introducing Abler: All Technology is Assistive Technology
[Related: http://abler.gizmodo.com/
http://sarahendren.kinja.com/ ]

"So you'll see lots of new and near-future prosthetics design on Abler. But you'll also see:

Critical design. Plenty of prosthetic devices solve problems. But others investigate what counts as a "problem" in the first place. Whose bodies need "fixing," and why? What happens when designers reconsider the definition of "normal"? Whether you call it "design for debate" or "interrogative design," these are tools and technologies that raise and suspend the friction of questions, rather than rushing to the seamlessness of solutions.

Old and new devices. There are surprising connections between devices across widely differing historical and cultural contexts. The history of war, for example, reveals both incredible advances and deep ironies in the development and use of assistive technologies among veterans. A long perspective is a good one. Abler will talk to historians and anthropologists who can illuminate these technologies.

Assistive technologies as culture. Abler is influenced by historian David Edgerton's call to pay attention not just to technological innovations because they're new, but to also pay attention to technologies in use to assess their importance. The day-to-day adoption and appropriation of technologies is where their real power lies. Assistive devices reveal all kinds of fascinating collisions with politics, material science, economic structures, and fashion, but also with accidental histories and contingent relationships.

What you won't see at Abler:

No soft piano music, no "overcomer" stories. Too often, tech writers are so much in love with the conflict-and-resolution stories of prosthetics that the users of those devices become a simplified backdrop for a scripted, questionably emotional catharsis. No prosthetics users here will necessarily be "suffering from" their conditions. Abler is about assistive technologies without sentimentality.

No breathless tech utopianisms. There will be plenty of celebration here about technical innovation. You will see us join sometimes in the holy-crap-they-built-WHAT?! conversation. But Abler values a measured skepticism about technological fixes for complex, sensing humans and their many tasks. Some new devices are truly groundbreaking; some are merely new. Abler is about welcoming the future with critical wits intact.

Abler is written and edited by Sara Hendren, with research assistance by Anna Raymond. Note: the Kinja platform doesn't allow us to provide alt-text for blind readers; we'll be describing images in posts and suggesting they change their policy."
sarahendren  aberism  gizmodo  2013  assistivetechnology  technology  culture  society  criticaldesign  utopianism  skepticism  complexity  annaraymond  davidedgerton  history  anthropology  prosthetics 
november 2013 by robertogreco
DIYAbility
"We believe that people with and without disabilities can be empowered when using the correct technology. More importantly, we want everyone to know they have the right to participate in the design & making of technology - having the opportunity to make your own 'stuff' can lead to increased quality of life, maintaining independence, perhaps a new career and staying curious about the world. Making also happens to be really fun!

The goal of DIYAbility is to create a community for people who believe that technology is world opening. The tools and software available today can let anyone implement and make their own devices and make almost anything else. DIYAbility is not just about assistive technology and all that orthopedic looking stuff - it is about acting on an idea whether it is for personal fun or assistance.

DIYAbility was started by John Schimmel and Holly Cohen (OT/ATP). John is a technologist and tinkerer who teaches Developing Assistive Technology and Web Development courses at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. Holly is an occupational therapist and assistive technology practitioner and teaches Rehabilitation courses at NYU Steinhardt's Department of Occupational Therapy. Both have been involved with assistive technology design and implementation for several years and want to encourage more people to think creatively about technology and disabilities."
accessibility  hacking  diy  technology  assistivetechnology  johnschimmel  hollycohen  disability  disabilities 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The White Cane as Technology - Sara Hendren - The Atlantic
"A conversation with scholar Georgina Kleege about what her cane tells her, how tech designers should think about visual impairments, and why "bluetooth shoes for the blind" are a terrible idea"

[See also Alan Jacobs in reaction: http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2013/11/bluetooth-shoes.html

"And there’s another aspect of this: the white cane is clearly a superior technology here, but connectivity is just what we do now, technologically. Bluetooth is cool in a way that Lucite is not. People want to offer digital solutions to problems — or pseudo-problems — that are not really digital in nature. It’s like rummaging around in your ear with a screwdriver." ]

[See also: http://ablersite.org/2013/11/06/the-white-cane-as-technology/ ]
sarahendren  blind  2013  assistivetechnology  technology  alanjacobs  problemsolving  disability  georginakleege  disabilities 
november 2013 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Thinking TEST and Toolbelt Theory again, the Tech Choice Paradigm for Every Child
[Related: http://www.iwasthinking.ca/2013/10/10/understanding-ira-socols-test-approach/ ]

"None of this is unimportant. These are the kinds of tool choices which will help define success for students in their lives in their century. It is especially critical for every student on every margin, the ones - like me - who need to make the right technological choices to be effective at, say, reading or writing. Or at communicating, or at maths. These aren't "assistive technologies" anymore than elevators, cars, and eyeglasses are - they are the tools we need to learn to choose, use, and leverage to be our best.

Let's go through this. It isn't enough, in this century, to say, "I will read (or watch) the news." We need to decide what kinds of news to read, watch, and interact with, when to do that so we maximize our learning and attention, on what device to do that, using what apps or software to prioritize it. If I use Flipboard do I know how t set that up? What are the limitations of New York Times apps? How do I interact with the Guardian? Is it worth having news alerts emailed to me? texted to me? About what? If reading isn't easy, or I'm in my car a lot, which apps best convert text to speech?

It isn't enough to say, "I'll write that down." On what? How? Where? Do I know how to set up Windows Speech Recognition? How to use Speech to Text in Android? in Dragon Lite in iOS? in Chrome? Do I know how to configure a keyboard on a tablet or mobile device? Can I adapt a keyboard if I have to use a computer in another country?

Obviously, we just don't "send letters," I need to know how to text my boss even if I'm driving. I need to know how to send a professional text, a professional email, a professional dm. I need to know how to read critical work emails and texts even if I'm driving or rushing through an airport. And, most critically, I will need to choose and set up devices throughout my life.

These are essential skills. And these are essential skills that certain children - the privileged - get at home from the start, but they are essential skills which most American schools have chosen to deny to kids whose parents cannot supply them with these options - thus widely increasing the devastating opportunity gap.

The critical point today is, you can't do any of this if you do not begin by changing how you acquire the technology in your school, and then change how you teach with that technology. You have to begin by buying technology based your students' needs to respond individually to the first three steps in TEST, so that they have the options, and eventually the knowledge, to function in a multi-device, multi-operating system world."



"Cochrane explicitly locates this within the postcolonial realm of the Disability Studies/Disability Rights movement - a large force in Europe - and little known in American, especially American K-12, education. The Disability Studies movement views disability as between somewhat and entirely a social construct... my preference is to use the term Transactional (see also this) - the opposite of the medical model... and tends to want to allow humans to make identity choices instead of being described by diagnosis - as even the most well-meaning American educators tend to do. (Americans like to use the same terminology for "disability" as for all pathologies, so they say, "a student with a reading disability" as they'd say, "a student with cancer." The other option is for the student to choose - or not choose - to use an identity label as we would with other forms of identity, "an African-American student," "a dyslexic student," "a gay student.")

This matters not just for students we label as having "disabilities," it matters for all not statistically average. Students cannot reach their potentials when we spend more effort limiting them and describing their problems than we spend enabling them and equipping them with the tools they need."
toolbelttheory  irasocol  education  teaching  learning  byod  technology  assistivetechnology  onesizefitsall  2013  test  choice  diversity  disability  disabilitystudies  colonialism  reading  writing  communication  specialeducation  postcolonialism  disabilities 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Computers are for people
"Markets are gonna market, and specs are gonna spec, but it often feels like companies are forgetting that computers are for people, first. And people have bodies, those bodies have limitations, and all of us have limitations in specific situations.

We're all disabled sometimes. If I turn off the lights in your room, you can't see. If I fill the room with enough noise, you can't hear. If your hands are full, you can't use them to do anything else.

But as Sara Hendren writes, "all technology is assistive technology." When it's working right, technology helps people of every ability overcome these limitations. It doesn't throw us back into the world of assumptions that expects us all to be fully capable all of the time.

That's not what good technology does. That's not what good design does. That's what assholes do.

I think often about Jason's post on one-handed computing because I'm in the story. He wrote it for his wife, and he wrote it for me. I'd badly broken my right arm in an accident, snapping my radius in half and shooting it out of my body."



"The thing that tech companies forget -- that journalists forget, that Wall Street never knew, that commenters who root for tech companies like sports fans for their teams could never formulate -- that technology is for people -- is obvious to Jason. Technology is for us. All of us. People who carry things.

People. Us. These stupid, stubborn, spectacular machines made of meat and electricity, friends and laughter, genes and dreams."

[Update: see also (via @ablerism):
"It’s a Man’s Phone: My female hands meant I couldn’t use my Google Nexus to document tear gas misuse"
https://medium.com/technology-and-society/its-a-mans-phone-a26c6bee1b69 ]
technology  timcarmody  2013  assistivetechnology  sarahendren  humans  vulnerability  ability  disability  iphone  limitations  computing  computers  accessibility  computersareforpeople  disabilities  zeyneptufekci 
october 2013 by robertogreco
All Technology Is Assistive Technology — Medium
[Another "read the whole thing" post from Sara]

"1. Question invisibility as the assumed goal. …

2. Rethink the default bodily experience. …

3. Consider fine gradations of qualitative change. …

4. Uncouple medical technologies from their diagnostic contexts. …

5. Design for one. …

6. And this is perhaps the most important: Let the tools you make ask questions, not just solve problems."

[Dead link, try here: https://medium.com/backchannel/all-technology-is-assistive-ac9f7183c8cd ]
sarahendren  technology  ability  disability  design  assistivetechnology  canon  ablerism  askingquestions  bodies  humanbody  disabilities  questionasking  body 
september 2013 by robertogreco
TapTapSee - Blind & Visually Impaired Camera for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad on the iTunes App Store
"TapTapSee is designed to help the blind and visually impaired identify objects they encounter in their daily lives.

Simply double tap the screen to take a photo of anything and hear the app speak the identification back to you."
via:straup  cameras  iphone  ios  blindness  objectrecognition  sensors  assistivetechnology  roboteyes 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Dis/Ability: Moving Beyond Access in the Academy | HASTAC
"Converging at the intersections of disability theory, pedagogy, and media studies, this forum intends to harness both theoretical and praxical discussions. We are interested in sharing ideas about how disability theory can positively intersect with our larger understandings of accessibility and the potentiality of technologies and multimodality. We are interested in classroom practices—the practical strategies folks have developed for increasing accessibility and centralizing issues of dis/ability as both material condition and social construct. We are interested in the everyday ways that we—as scholars and researchers and teachers—take up (or don’t, for various personal or institutional reasons) the challenge of creating more accessible physical and digital spaces for learning, teaching, and researching.

• What strategies do you use in your classrooms to increase accessibility or even to cater to or accommodate particular disabilities? What challenges have you faced making your classroom more accessible? Have some strategies backfired? Are there particular issues that have prevented you from making accessibility-related changes?

• What technologies are people using (whether assistive technologies or broader tech like YouTube & Twitter) to meet the needs of students? What technologies are used to create and/or support online disability identities?

• How can our own scholarly research be more accessible? I mean this both in terms of wider availability (open access publishing, perhaps) and in terms of ensuring that a range of people with various physical differences can access our new media projects. How might accessibility enhance a digital or multimodal project?

• How does disability theory intersect with technology, particularly in relation to race & resistance studies; “assistive” technologies; innovation, hacking & appropriation; and gender & queer studies?"

[From Sara Hendren's comment: http://hastac.org/forums/disability-moving-beyond-access-academy#comment-21573 ]

"I think some of the strongest art/design-and-technology practices result in objects or interactions or performances where “use” isn’t the mandate at all—and therefore, leaving aside the creation of resonances for use, at least as a goal. Usefulness or functionality may result, but it’s not the destination, if you will, of the work. And indeed true “interrogative” works, in my estimation, are best when they suspend questions indefinitely. They press and hold two or more opposing functions or symbolic/expressive gestures together at once, without resolve.

I think that strong interrogative objects, when engaging ideas in disability studies/politics, help skirt the artificial denoument of erasing difference, a la Jay’s “whack-a-mole” analogy. That is, resisting the seduction of “solutions” in design where “problems” become invisible."
via:ablerism  ability  disability  academia  marylalper  melissahelquist  stephanierosen  jaydolmage  alanfoley  maramills  cyndirowland  questions  questioning  unfinished  solutions  solutionism  transparaency  visibility  problems  problemsolving  design  art  technology  interactions  interrogativeworks  resolution  laurenmccarthy  matthiasgommel  jennifercrupi  accessibility  assistivetechnology  hacking  appropriation  innovation  resistance  unresolved  seams  seamlessness  canon  sarahendren  allisonhitt  disabilities 
march 2013 by robertogreco
what’s wrong with “prosthetics porn”? (part II) | Abler.
"How can technologies demonstrate an outward posture? I mean, how might they extend their forms and also their functions, beyond a single user? Couldn’t they both resolve & reveal, pose more questions than answers?…"

"A built environment, a city that accommodates—& indeed demonstrates—physical or cognitive interdependence doesn’t only call for limbs & ramps. We need wholly-spectacular impracticalities, & artistic research & collaboration, & public interactive art, & we need the most durable accessibility equipment we can design."

"Moreover, we might take the long view in order to get the short view more clearly in focus. This has long been said of science fiction in literature—that our ideas about the future are really an index of our attitudes in the present. I’m interested in futurism in prosthetics as an inquiry & spectacle, & I also want to make projects that help us harness our technologies for a more inclusive world."
abler  sarahendren  prosthetics  bikes  bikesharing  interdependence  cities  architecture  technology  assistivetechnology  art  publicart  accessibility  design  present  future  inclusiveness  inclusion  futurism  objects  objectfixations  prostheticsporn  modernism  utopia  structures  spatialagency  brunolatour  parasite  michaelrakowitz  rebar  adaptivetechnology  adaptive  eyeborg  eyewear  tandems  tandembicycles  biking  spoke-o-dometer  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
march 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Toolbelt Theory for Everyone
"The only way to allow students to assemble this essential toolbelt for information and communication is to to throw open your classroom and let the world in. How will your students know which calendar works for them - the one on their phone, Google Calendar with SMS appointment texting, Microsoft Outlook, or any of a dozen paper systems unless you allow them to try them out? How will your students know whether they 'get' a novel better by listening to an audiobook, or reading it on paper, or using text-to-speech, if you don't let them experience all repeatedly and help them decide? Will their choice be the same when they are reading history texts? Math texts? Again, how will they know? How will they know which is the best way for them to write, by hand (either on paper or on a tablet system), by keyboard (and which keyboard), or by voice, if they do not get to try out all the kinds of writing they need to do with all these tools?"

[See also: http://es.slideshare.net/irasocol/toolbelt-theory ]
tools  assistivetechnology  technology  education  accessibility  irasocol  onlinetoolkit  toolbelttheory  learning  tcsnmy  cv  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  onesizefitsall  individualization  individuality  whatworks  toolbelts  environment  skills  learningtolearn  2008 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Bookshare - Accessible Books for Individuals with Print Disabilities
"Accessible Books and Periodicals for Readers with Print Disabilities * Bookshare™ is free for all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities. Student memberships are currently funded by an award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). * Bookshare dramatically increases the accessibility of books. Bookshare believes that people with disabilities deserve the same ease of access to books and periodicals that people without disabilities enjoy. * A searchable online library. Bookshare offers more than 60,000 digital books, textbooks, teacher-recommended reading, periodicals and assistive technology tools. * Readers of all ages. Bookshare offers affordable membership, unlimited library privileges and a community of Members, Volunteers, parents, publishers and authors."
education  audiobooks  literacy  disabilities  onlinebooks  ebooks  books  online  audio  reading  accessibility  free  assistivetechnology  libraries  disability 
november 2009 by robertogreco

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