Notes from a Brainstorm
The overarching concern of Hiroshi is a potential split in the disability community over new technology, particularly in the broadband age. He would like to see the disability community speak with one voice on these issues. The particular issue that concerns Hiroshi right now is the Second Life problem, 3D avatar immersive environments. To some disability groups, Second Life is wonderful. They can participate in a world accessible to them without having a disability. Of course, Second Life is completely inaccessible to blind people right now. Whether or not it is just Second Life, it is emblematic of a handful of issues that surround the Web 2.0 phenomena. They are:
- Highly visual content, multimedia, maps
- User-created content (an increasing phenomena, with a wide variety of accessibility)
- Disproportionate cost compared to the benefit (we can’t ask Flickr photo sharing users to describe a billion photos)
Kevin’s response was that it fell into two domains: political and technical. On the political front, the question to a disability advocacy group is what the benefits are for spending limited political capital. If not much benefit is possible, it seems unlikely to worth the expenditure of effort.
Hiroshi pointed out that in the developed world, an increasing proportion of the visually impaired also have other disabilities, so that joining forces with other groups is also serving the VI community.
The privacy point came up in an interesting way for people with physical disabilities. When you have a constant attendant, you have no privacy at all. If you can get on-line, it may be the first chance to do things for yourself without being supervised or assisted. This can be incredibly liberating.
We also discussed the challenges around serving people with intellectual disabilities. Hiroshi noted that there were IFLA efforts around creating easy-to-read publications.
Jim mentioned the incipient “Raising the Floor” effort he is co-developing with Gregg Vanderheiden, where we want to see every person with a disability having a basic of level of access to technology and information.
The brainstorm concluded with some action items to be driven by Hiroshi.