New Book: Disability Rights Advocacy Online – Out now!

I’m excited to announce that my book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity” was released in October 2016. Both hard back and e-book versions are available from the Routledge website, as well as on Amazon and other online vendors (where it’s cheaper!).

Book Cover_2

Book cover: Disability Rights Advocacy Online

This book charts the recent digitalization of disability rights advocacy in the U.K. and the U.S., and discusses the implications of this transformation for disabled citizens and other traditionally under-represented groups. In just a few short years, disability rights groups have gone from using the Internet much less than other advocacy organizations to pioneering new uses of social media to foster a deep sense of agency and unify a very diverse community. To read a full book synopsis, click here.

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Disability and Digital Storytelling Talk at UAB’s Institute for Human Rights

Today (10/11) I am in Birmingham, AL to give a talk on “Using Digital Storytelling to Promote Human Rights: The Experience of Disability Advocates” at the Institute for Human Rights at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. The talk is scheduled for 6-7:30pm CDT in Heritage Hall. Accessible virtual participation with closed captioning will be available for this talk via Blackboard Collaborate using this link: http://tinyurl.com/trevisan-lecture-uab-ihr

In this talk, I will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using crowd-sourced personal stories to counter negative portrayals of people with disabilities in popular and public discourse, and advocate for disability rights using examples and case studies from both the United Kingdom and the United States.

On Thursday, October 12, I will also be a guest speaker in UAB’s Digital Storytelling course (part of the Media Studies program) and give a lecture on representations of disability and disability rights activism to students in UAB’s School of Medicine.

This visit will conclude with a tour of the Lakeshore Foundation, a leading training, research, and advocacy center that aims to empower people with physical disabilities and chronic health conditions through sports, recreation, and physical activity.

I am extremely grateful to the Director of the Institute for Human Rights, Associate Professor Tina Kempin-Reuter, for this invitation and for organizing such a wonderful program.

Voters with Disabilities and Online Election Campaigns at APSA 2017

I’m thrilled to be part of a Featured Papers in Information Technology and Politics panel at this year’s American Political Science Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA. I will present some of my latest work on the experience of American voters with disabilities with online election campaigns in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Here’s the panel information:

Featured Papers in Information Technology and Politics – 30 min. paper presentations

Friday Sept. 1st, 12:00-1:30pm – Hilton Union Square, Union Square 14

This is a new APSA panel format in which three papers will be presented and discussed by the public, but without a formal discussant.

On “Disability and Digital Citizenship” Panel at ANZCA 2017

Third and final talk of this Australian trip – I am excited to join a pioneering panel on “Disability and Digital Citizenship” at the 2017 Australia-New Zealand Communication Association’s conference later today at the University of Sydney. The panel will start at 2:30pm in New Law 106.

This panel brings together a number of scholars doing work on disability, technology and different aspects of participation and inclusion, from economics, to media, to politics. I will present some new research on how Americans with disabilities used the Internet to participate in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Thanks to my colleagues Prof. Gerard Goggin (of the conference organizing team) and Prof. Haiqing Yu for inviting me to this panel.

Invited Seminar at the University of Newcastle, NSW

Second Australian talk – I will discuss my book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online” during an invited seminar at the University of Newcastle. The event on Monday, July 3rd will start at noon in Room GP2.01 at the Callaghan Campus. Free registration is available here and the seminar will also be streamed live online. Anyone can join remotely by clicking here. The official Twitter hashtag for the event is #DisabilityRightsUON

I look forward to connecting with a wonderful group of scholars that does some great work on multiple aspects of disability and discuss how the book can help us to understand some of the latest developments in disability rights advocacy, including grassroots mobilization in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as U.S. President.

Special thanks go to my colleague Prof. Bronwyn Hemsley for being the driving force behind this event.

Workshop at the University of Melbourne: Political Action in the Digital Age

I am delighted to join colleagues from across Australia and the U.S. at a workshop on Political Action in the Digital Age organized by the Pop Politics Aus group at the University of Melbourne on June 29-30. My presentation is titled “When in Shock, Turn to the Internet,” and discusses the virtual response from the American disability community to the election of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. President.

This is the first of three events at which I will speak during a brief visit to Australia over the next few days to connect with leading researchers in the fields of disability and technology, as well as online politics at the Universities of Sydney and Newcastle. I will publish more details about the other events in the next few days.

At the U.N. for COSP10 with IDPP

COSP10

This week I am in New York to participate in the historic 10th Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations’ Headquarters. The biggest disability rights conference in the world, COSP brings together all the countries that signed the CRPD, U.N. agencies, and civil society organizations for a series of talks on the advancement of disability rights
around the globe.

The Institute on Disability and Public Policy at American University has organized three side-events during COSP and co-sponsors two more. I am moderating the three IDPP events and sharing some of the latest IDPP research on Accessible Global Governance together with IDPP Executive Director Dr. Derrick Cogburn. To know more about IDPP’s side-events and the program for the week, click here.

New Article in Public Relations Inquiry: ‘Crowd-Sourced Advocacy: Promoting Disability Rights Through Online Storytelling’

pria_6_2.coverI am thrilled to share the publication of a new single-authored article in the journal Public Relations Inquiry. The article, titled “Crowd-Sourced Advocacy: Promoting Disability Rights Through Online Storytelling,” examines the emergent promotional tactic of creating protest counter-narratives by aggregating personal stories collected from supporters of online disability rights networks. The content, potential efficacy, and implications for those involved are reviewed. This article is part of a special issue on promotional cultures and PR that includes research presented at the “Powers of Promotion” 2016 ICA Pre-conference in Tokyo. To access the full article, click here.

Abstract:

This article sheds light on the emergent advocacy technique of building policy counter-narratives by crowd-sourcing, organizing, and disseminating personal life stories online. Focusing on the case of disability rights groups in the United Kingdom, this article uses qualitative in-depth content analysis to examine 107 blog posts containing personal disability stories published in 2012–2013 by two anti-austerity groups. Although each of these groups managed its blogs differently, with one carefully curating stories and the other publishing crowd-sourced narratives without any form of editing, they generated virtually identical counter-narratives. These accounts challenged the dominant news narrative that presented disability welfare claimants as ‘cheats’ and ‘scroungers’. They did so by retaining the overarching structure of the dominant narrative – which functioned as the de facto coordinating mechanism for the crowd-sourced counter-narrative – and replacing its content with three alternative arguments drawn from personal life stories. The implications of this new advocacy technique for disabled people and other marginalized groups are discussed. This includes considerations about the development of a form of story-based advocacy that is both effective and respectful of the people who ‘lend’ their lived experiences for advocacy purposes. This article concludes by highlighting the need for research to investigate whether the new voices that emerge through these processes are ‘being heard’ and can successfully re-frame public discourse about sensitive policy issues.

Media Justice at the 2017 ICA Conference, May 25th

I am excited to present a paper on “Crowd-sourced Disability Storytelling, Mobilization and the Problem of Being Heard” at this year’s ICA pre-conference on Media Justice: Race, Borders, Disability and Data. This event brings together international scholars, activists and policy practitioners to discuss the role of media in the emergence and/or repression of new voices and the representation of minorities. A detailed program is available here.

Media Justice will take place at the Sherman Heights Community Center, 2258 Island Avenue, San Diego on Thursday May 25th between 9:00am – 5:00pm.

There is no cost to participate in this event but registration is essential. To register, click here.

UMD Disability Summit 2017 Presentations

This Friday (April 21st) I will participate in the University of Maryland Disability Summit for the first time. I look forward to this event that brings together researchers, disability rights advocates and inclusion champions in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and from across the nation. A full program for the day is available here.

Together with colleagues from the AU Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) I will be presenting on several disability grassroots advocacy topics, including:

  • Virtual disability protest under the Trump administration (10:00am, Colony Ballroom)
  • Using ICTs to enhance the participation of the disability community in global governance processes (with Derrick Cogburn and Maya Aguilar – 10:00am, Colony Ballroom)
  • The CRPD (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) iOS App (poster presentation, Colony Ballroom)

 

Presenting at ISA 2017 in Baltimore

I look forward to presenting my latest research at the International Studies Association’s Annual Convention 2017 in Baltimore this week.

Panel: Social media and activism – Power and resistance in the 21st Century

When: Thursday, February 23rd, 8:15am – Where: Marriott, Stadium 4 room

This paper, which I wrote together with Paul Reilly (Information School, University of Sheffield) and Mariana Leyton-Escobar (School of Communication, American University), compares online crowd-sourced advocacy efforts that use personal stories of disabilities to affect key public debates in the UK and the U.S., including recent virtual protests that followed the inauguration of U.S. president Donald Trump as part of the Women’s March on Washington (January 2017). Here is a copy of the abstract:

Storytelling transcends cultures. It can speak to global audiences, change public attitudes, serve as policy evidence, and challenge dominant media narratives on sensitive social issues. Thus, advocacy organizations and activist networks increasingly use social media to crowd-source, co-create, and distribute personal stories, which originate in the private sphere and become public narratives online. Yet, story-based advocacy is also controversial as sharing the intimate accounts of groups that have been discriminated against may foster further stigmatization. Communication scholars have yet to discuss the implications of this global advocacy trend for digital citizenship. Whose voices do we really hear in online stories? How are they collected, edited, and re-mediated? Ultimately, who is empowered by this approach? To address these questions, this paper compares the use of personal stories in online disability rights campaigns in the UK and the United States. By combining the analysis of blog posts and YouTube videos featuring stories of disability with interviews with leading advocates in both countries, different digital storytelling practices are revealed. In particular, a trade-off between maintaining spontaneity and editing personal accounts to achieve policy effectiveness is identified and discussed in the context of different political cultures, media systems, ethical principles, and policy-making traditions.

On February 21st, I also discussed my recent book “Disability Rights Advocacy Online: Voice, Empowerment and Global Connectivity” (Routledge 2016) as part of the ISA working group on Accelerating Change in Global Governance: Enhancing the Participation of Excluded and Marginalized Voices Through Information and Communication Technology.