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Disability & Locative Media


'Disability & Locative Media' by Gerard Goggin, U. of Sydney, talk at 'Social Lives of Locative Media' Symposium, 22 July 2014, Swinburne University, Melbourne

'Disability & Locative Media' by Gerard Goggin, U. of Sydney, talk at 'Social Lives of Locative Media' Symposium, 22 July 2014, Swinburne University, Melbourne

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  • 1. Disability and Locative Media paper for The Social Lives of Locative Media Symposium Swinburne University, 23 July 2014 Gerard Goggin @ggoggin Department of Media & Communications University of Sydney
  • 2. Acknowledgements paper based on: Katie Ellis and Gerard Goggin, ‘Disability, Locative Media, and Complex Ubiquity.’ In Complex Ubiquity- Effects: Individuating, Situating, Eventualizing, eds. Ulrik Ekman et al. (Routledge, 2015). research supported by: Disability and Digital Technology: Accessible Design, Global Media Policy, and Human Rights, ARC Future Fellowship project, 2014-2018
  • 3. disability & locative media: encounter of 2 kinds of complexity 1. Disability itself has been proposed as a kind of cultural location, with its specificity and dynamics Sharon L. Snyder and David T. Mitchell, Cultural Locations of Disability (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006). In line with complexity theory, there is complexity of disability, as constituted in contemporary society. For example, in its individuation, disability is never just one isolated category – it’s co-dependent on a diverse range of other instantiations of class, gender, race, ethnicity, locality + historical and cultural specificity.
  • 4. disability & locative media: encounter of 2 kinds of complexity 2. There is the complexity of the cultural shaping of locative media, and its materiality. • locative media are characterized by evolution of range of technologies that gather & use information about locations + socio-cultural dynamics of location & place (Farman, Frith, Goggin, Gordon, Hjorth, Humphreys, Licoppe, Light, Richardson, Race, de Souza e Silva, Schwarz, Wilken, et cetera) • mobile phone is key technology here; in smartphone stage of locative media, disability becomes zone for much more intense visibility, design, and engagement
  • 5. Disability is thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives. — World Health Organization (WHO) World Heath Organization, “Disabilities,” http://www.who.int/topics/disabilities/en/
  • 6. sonic pathfinder (Tony Heyes, Melbourne-based)
  • 7. ‘The Sonic Pathfinder is a secondary mobility aid for use by people with a vision impairment. It is not suitable for anyone who does not have primary mobility skills. It is designed for use out-of-doors in conjunction with either a cane, a guide dog or residual vision. The use of the device must be taught by a correctly trained Mobility Instructor.’ ‘Imagine yourself in an open space some 4 metres (12ft.) away from a wall. If you were to turn to face the wall and start walking, suddenly you would hear, in both ears, the notes of the musical scale descending in order. Each note represents a distance of approximately 0.3 metres (1ft.) of travel. If you were to stop when the tonic is reached; you would be able to reach forward and touch the wall with the outstretched hand.’ Tony Heyes, ‘The Sonic Pathfinder’, http://www.sonicpathfinder.org/
  • 8. Since being totally blind I feel much more traffic vulnerable, not so much getting lost or anything, just getting run over. And I have a secondary fear of actually causing injury to another pedestrian when I'm run down. So the mobility stuff [using an ultrasound sensor] is highly valued. -- Tom, a 46 year old Blind man, from Adelaide, South Australian Quoted in Deborah Lupton and Wendy Seymour, “Technology, Selfhood and Physical Disability,” Social Science & Medicine 50 (2000): 1856.
  • 9. A dog is far more suitable than using something like a mote sensor and a sonic pathfinder, for example, which are electronic aids that are either hand-held, or one actually sits on your head, like a head band with ear plugs and a big thing across the forehead and stuff … [I]t’s socially frightening to a lot of people … Whereas, for example, to walk around with a dog is completely and utterly socially acceptable. And I think with technologies, the more obtrusive it is, the more offensive it can become to some people. -- Margie, a 24 year old Blind woman Quoted in Lupton and Seymour, “Technology, Selfhood and Physical Disability”, 2000
  • 10. ‘A ' spin-off ' from my aid for the blind, I Invented and patented ReverseAid in 1983. It is an ultrasonic device which, when fitted to the back of cars or trucks, gives a warning to the driver when reversing, should there be an obstacle behind the vehicle … It was fitted to every car I owned for the next 18 years. That is, until I was forced to stop driving because of failing eyesight … It was suggested that my enthusiasm for the device was because I was a one-eyed driver and could not judge distances. Today the situation is very different, many embodiments of the ReverseAid technology are now available (known generically as Parking Sensors). It seems to have become popular even with two-eyed drivers!’ – Tony Heyes, http://www.sonicpathfinder.org/
  • 11. In the event of service disruption [to public transportation], the disabled traveller needs information in an appropriate form about suitable alternative methods of reaching their destination … Mobile phones equipped with cameras can also be used to send visual and location information to a service centre where an operator can then guide the user to their desired destination. John Gill, “Priorities for Technological Research for Visually Impaired People,” Visual Impairment Research 7 (2005): 59-61.
  • 12. Using mobile phones they create audio recordings, videos, text and images that are immediately published on the Web. Participants transform these devices into digital megaphones, amplifying the voices of individuals and groups who are often overlooked or misrepresented in the mainstream media. Antoni Abad, “Communities + Mobile Phones = Collaborative Visions,” http://megafone.net/
  • 13. I really hate it when we go into a restaurant and, after we’ve gotten settled in, I discover that I am going to need to negotiate stairs if I want to go to the restroom. Stairs are my nemesis at the moment and I would really like to know, before we go somewhere, that I won’t be confronted by them. … an iPhone app [could be created] specifically for this kind of information. Like Yelp and its ilk, it would be powered by the social network, with people adding information about places that are wheelchair/cane friendly. Sylvie, “Disability and iPhone apps. Population of One”, 2009, www.sylvienoel.ca/blog/?p=1195
  • 14. Exchange Telstra blog, 1 May 2014
  • 15. “OK Glass, what’s this?” With four short words, 31- year-old Kelly Schulz, 97 per cent blind since birth, is given a glimpse of what’s in front of her. Google’s head-mounted computer snaps a photo and a reads a description into her right ear. “It is a male bathroom”, a computerised voice tells her. Other times, “it is a $20 note”, “a bottle of skim milk”, or “a can of BBQ baked beans”. Schulz trialled a prototype app on Glass for a day, and though she stresses that the best piece of technology has four legs, a wet nose and responds to the name Gallia, she says Glass has massive potential. “Google Glass and Telstra come to the help of the disabled,” News.com.au, 5 May, 2014
  • 16. The majority of people want access to the same market-leading devices that the rest of the population use. They want to choose from the same library of apps and participate in the same activities online. Scott Hollier, “Opinion: Do we still need specialist technology?” Media Access, 13 June, 2013, mediaaccess.org.au
  • 17. Google Glass has the potential to radically impact the lives of people with disabilities. Will you partner with us in making Google Glass more accessible? -- Indiegogo crowdfunding platform campaign “Make it Happen! Google Glass for People with Disabilities,” December, 13, 2013, http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/make-it-happen-google-glass-for-people-with- disabilities.
  • 18. Cars + Mobiles 3.0: Internet of mobilities & locative media
  • 19. ‘… it was the words of Google co-founder Sergey Brin that most interested me. He said that driverless cars would provide transport to people who can’t drive themselves, such as blind people or those who are physically disabled.’ Sarah Ismail, ‘The Miracle of Driverless Cars’, Google, 28 September 2012
  • 20. ‘My own physical disability, which I have had since birth, means that I will never be able to drive a ‘real’ car. I can’t use public transport by myself, either. So the chance to have a driverless car would mean the world to me. It would change my life so much for the better.’ Sarah Ismail, ‘The Miracle of Driverless Cars’, Google, 28 September 2012
  • 21. ‘It would be more than a car to me. It would give me the freedom to get up and go out, without having to wait until there was someone available to drive me around. If I could get up and go out, by myself, where I wanted, when I wanted, I would have real and complete independence.’ Sarah Ismail, ‘The Miracle of Driverless Cars’, Google, 28 September 2012
  • 22. ‘I am a disability campaigner and I am proud to be disabled. I know my own limits and very few of them bother me any more. However, the fact that I can’t drive is the last thing that I have to accept about my disability … If only I could drive, my life would be perfect, disability and all.’ Sarah Ismail, ‘The Miracle of Driverless Cars’, Google, 28 September 2012
  • 23. conclusion • Google Glass (= wearables) & Google Driverless Cars (= cars & mobiles 3.0) can be seen as important next stages in imagining non-screen- based, locative media (expanding notions of media) • Google’s embrace of disability & partnering with tech developers to explore disability/accessibility potential is laudable • however, there is little recognition of the complex, convergent locative media scapes in social life & as well as the unfolding complexities of the conditions & meanings of disability
  • 24. References Katie Ellis and Gerard Goggin, ‘Disability, Locative Media, and Complex Ubiquity.’ In Complex Ubiquity-Effects: Individuating, Situating, Eventualizing, eds. Ulrik Ekman et al. (Routledge, 2015). Gerard Goggin. ‘Smartphone Culture and Mobile Politics, Avant La Lettre: Antoni Abad’s Megafone.net/2004-2014.’ In Antoni Abad. Megafone.net/2004-2014, edited by Macbe (Barcelona: Turner, 2014) Katie Ellis and Gerard Goggin, Disability and the Media (Palgrave, 2015) Goggin, Gerard. ‘Mobile Communication Law and Regulation.’ In International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society, ed. Ang Peng Hwa and Robin Mansell (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014) Gerard Goggin. ‘Driving the Internet: Mobile Internets, Cars, and the Social’. Future Internet 4.1 (2012): 306-321 31