Accessibility Using the Internet: Disability, Cultural Diversity and Accessibility

UTS Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Research Centre
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With Gov 2.0 focusing on accessibility as an issue, the politics of the term become increasingly apparent. What Gov 2.0 does not mean is accessibility as it is understood by the disability or the ethnic movement. What are the political & social issues raised by web 2.0 for social groups with less economic resources and poorer cultural capital in relation to new media & the Internet, especially as these constraints affect political access to information and decision-making, within the context of deliberative democracy (one ostensible driver for Gov 2.0 innovation). The technologies associated with web 2.0 are critical in setting possibility parameters within the continually transforming public sphere in cyberspace; they produce both enabling and disabling outcomes. Drawing on theoretical work in media studies, cultural studies & disability studies, and the practical experience of developing a communications platform that has been required to meet W3C web accessibility initiative user agent accessibility guidelines (UAAG 2.0), the paper will then address some of the key questions posed by the Usability Professionals’ Association May 2010 conference, “Embracing Cultural Diversity – User Experience Design for the World”. One of the key propositions to be tested concerns the way in which the burgeoning use of social media for eliciting user needs may, in an environment of marginalisation of minorities, further isolate such groups and reduce the purchase they have on government. These are significant issues for agencies & organisations working with the (resource, cyber-cultural, linguistically isolated, technologically unaware) “poor”.
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