Presentation Notes and References – Sexuality, Diversity and People with Disabilities: Creating Accessible Innovation for Social Inclusion


These notes have been prepared for a presentation I delivered at the Sydney Social Media Day: Diversity in Innovation, exploring the theme of diversity and social innovation. Throughout the day Kate Carruthers and others were live tweeting some key ideas from each presentation.

All too often technology innovators as well as many folks in the LGBTIQ community overlook the fact that people with disabilities are part of their users and community. Through firsthand experiences and real life examples, this presentation informs, entertains and positively challenges participants to think differently about innovation, diversity, social media, access and inclusion in Australia.

Talk Concepts, Mentions and Ideas

Diversity, Disability, Innovation and Bullying

Lots of good info I drew upon in my talk was covered in this article I was commissioned to write for Cut-Up Media Magazine : Netporn, Sexuality and the Politics of Disability: A Catalyst for Access, Inclusion and Acceptance? (revised 2007).

AnferneeC Tweeted: Diversity is more than sexual attraction, gender or race. It’s about a unique situation that each one of us finds ourselves in … Its our difference, our uniqueness, that makes us who we are @TimNoonan

I made reference to Helen Keller’s letter to Mark Twain on the plight of the blind; Twain called it “a classic”. How far we’ve come since then, though still some way to go…

I emphasised my view that “Social Innovation needs to support and enable Social Integration – by all.”

Kate Carruthers Tweeted: @TimNoonan notes how important it is that there are now resources for minority kids suffering bullying
Nancy Georges Tweeted: “Wise words from @TimNoonan “Social media is not just 4 selling, it’s a tool 4 social integration for broader community innovation”

Finding and Using our Voices

I argued that the next phase of Social/technology Innovation will incorporate human voice along-side text, images and sound, recognising that our voices allow for trusted heart-to-heart connections, above and beyond intellect and idea.

Kate Carruthers Tweeted: Advocating for a voice based app @TimNoonan says “the voice tells you that person’s heart” #smday @sibsyd

Accessibility and Inclusive Design

My approach to accessibility is that it is inseparable from good user experience design. I provide innovative and creative solutions in collaboration with the sponsor and developer; recognising that compliance testing after the fact is difficult, often expensive, and painful for all concerned.

In the disability domain we often say “Nothing About Us Without Us!”

Reasons why social media access is important as identified by Media Access Australia include:

  • Personal: examples include creating online commentary of personal thoughts, sharing photos and discussing social events;

  • Work: examples include creating a résumé, creating professional connections and discussing job opportunities;

  • Entertainment: examples include sharing videos, following discussion from celebrities, discussing strategies in online games;

  • Provision of goods and services: examples include sharing information about a product, responding to user feedback about a product, accessing government services;

  • Education: examples include participation in online classes and sharing learning resources.

Kate Carruthers posted: @TimNoonan: No excuses for apps to be non inclusive & non accessible these days

Why Should You Make Your Applications Accessible?

Here is Apple’s answer:

  • It increases your user base. You’ve worked hard to create a great application; don’t miss the opportunity to make it available to even more users;

  • It allows people to use your application without seeing the screen. Users with visual impairments can use your application with the help of VoiceOver;

  • It helps you address accessibility guidelines. Various governing bodies create guidelines for accessibility and making your iPhone application accessible to VoiceOver users can help you [or your client] meet them.

Some interesting examples I mentioned of tech innovation benefiting people with disabilities

Here’s a video of Syntellia’s Fleksy Virtual Keyboard (innovative typing on iOS devices using VoiceOver) to developers for integration into third-party applications;

Nuance combines keyboard, handwriting recognition and voice for Android data input;

Aftershokz bone-conduction headphones (AS301-1 for iDevices) Allow hearing ambient sound as well as iPhone audio or GPS instructions.

Some Accessibility Articles, Guidelines and Resources

Jobs’s legacy includes accessible software for disabled people. Source: Canberra Times;

Accessible Apple iOS iPhone and iPad App Development: Presentation Delivered at Mobile Monday Sydney;

An article with some great things to consider for website accessibility: 25 Ways To Make Your Website Accessible (2011);

Social Media For People With A Disability.

About Tim

Tim Noonan is a voice, Sound Usability and Accessibility consultant, inspirational conference speaker and life path coach. Over the last 25 years Tim has blended his interests in technology, speech, telephony and accessibility, to bring printed and online information to life for people who are blind or print disabled.

In 2011 Tim was engaged by the NSW Electoral Commission as the lead Voice Usability Designer and accessibility expert for iVote – regarded as the most advanced and successful telephone and online voting implementation in the world.

Please connect with me to discuss a tailored presentation for your next conference and to talk about us assisting you to implement world class accessibility for your upcoming products, services and mobile apps.

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