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.

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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)

 

New Chapter in “Protest, Politics, Emotion” Book of Blogs

I was delighted to contribute one short article about the digitalization of disability rights advocacy to “Politics, Protest, Emotions: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.” This book, which is edited by Paul Reilly (University of Sheffield), Anastasia Veneti (Bournemouth University) and Dimitrinka Atanasova (Queen Mary, University of London), was published earlier this week and includes contributions by 37 academics around the globe who study the nexus between emotions, grassroots activism, and information technology. Students of political science and strategic communication who are interested in grassroots mobilization dynamics, online advocacy and organizing will find the case studies reviewed in this book to be both accessible and highly relevant to their work. The book can be accessed freely here and downloaded as a in pdf format here. My article (#32) can be found here.

Presenting Two Papers at HICSS 50

This year I am presenting two papers at the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) – a new conference and network for me, as well as my first visit to beautiful Hawaii.

The first paper is entitled “Technology, Voice and the Problem of ‘Being Heard’.” I will present this as part of an exciting Symposium on Social Movements and IT on Wednesday January 4th, 1:10-4:pm in Kona 1.

The second paper, with Derrick Cogburn, Erin Spaniol and Maya Aguilar of the Institute on Disability and Public Policy at AU, is entitled “Building Accessible Cyberinfrastructure in the Global Disability Community: Evaluating Collaboration Readiness and Use of the DID Policy Collaboratory” and can be downloaded freely here.  It is part of the Global Virtual Teams mini-track on Friday January 6th from 4 to 5:30pm.

Talking Disability Voting Rights on Al-Jazeera

On Monday October 31st, Al-Jazeera English dedicated its current affairs program “The Stream” to discussing the issues of voting rights for Americans with disabilities in the 2016 election. I was asked to comment on the issues that disability advocates face as they try to mobilize the disability vote across the country. The main panel included a number of innovative disabled advocates, including the creators of the #CripTheVote Twitter campaign, which has sought to increase opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in the election and asked the candidates to engage with disability issues. It is great to see Al-Jazeera’s interest in this issues and I wish that more legacy media would follow in its steps.

Check out the video here.

AU IDPP Seminar: Storytelling and Digital Disability Advocacy

The Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) has launched its second seminar series on Disability, Development and Global Governance. Following an introductory session from IDPP’s director Dr. Derrick Cogburn, I was pleased to facilitate the second session in this fall’s series on Sept. 20th on the topic of personal stories in digital disability rights advocacy. You can find a brief summary of the event by clicking hereidpp-seminar_room

IDPP seminars will continue every Tuesday between 12-1:30pm in the School of International Service’s building, room 300, until December 6th. Anyone can attend. To check out the amazing line up of speakers from AU and the broader Washington, DC policy community, click here.