Getting it Right: Participatory Information Research with People with Disabilities

Ms Janet Owens
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Over the past two decades there has been a growing understanding of consumer requirements and advances in the design and development of accessible technology. However, research over the past decade confirms that significant barriers still exist for people with disabilities. These individuals constitute a diverse group of consumers who experience physical, cognitive, literacy, financial and attitudinal barriers to the use of technology or information. They regard themselves as experts on their access issues yet have been provided with few opportunities to participate in technology research that seeks to explore issues and provide consumer-focused solutions.

In this paper, the benefits of collaborative research and the use of participatory methods in a funded research project on accessible telecommunications information are described. The target consumer group for the project was people with significant communication difficulties, a group who are particularly disadvantaged due to speech, literacy and physical access issues with technology and information. The strategies used to facilitate participation are discussed and criteria from Zarb (1992) and Barnes (2003) are used to evaluate the participatory aspect of the project.

Keywords: Accessibility, Telecommunications, Information, Participatory research
Stream: Other or Stream Unspecified
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Getting it Right

Ms Janet Owens

Senior Lecturer, School of Health and Social Development Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Deakin University
Melbourne, Australia

Janet Owens is a Senior Lecturer in the Disability Studies course at Deakin University and is a member of the Centre for Health and Social Exclusion at Deakin. Her areas of teaching and research include communication impairment, hearing impairment and Deafness, assistive technology and telecommunications access, and inclusive disability research. Janet has managed several Commonwealth, State and industry-funded accessibility projects and she is currently completing a doctorate in telecommunications issues and access solutions for people with disabilities.

Ref: T05P0313