My thoughts on accessibility by Patricia McCalla
Patricia McCalla, March 2021
10th December 2020 - Disability Rights and Robotics: Co-producing futures online event.
A UWE Bristol Social Science in the City event to celebrate Disability History Month
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In this time of rapid social change to our social and work lives, relationships, and leisure, new technologies might support disability rights like ‘driverless cars’, smartphones, social media, and new robotic technologies. Using co-production methodology 25 co-researchers from the University of the West of England, Fairfield Farm College and Wiltshire Centre of Independent Living came together to ask -
How can robotic technologies support disability rights?
To share this project and our experience of using co-production methodology, the Social Science in the City event offered an online tour of the UWE Bristol Robotics Laboratory Assisted Living studio and a mini knowledge café. Accessibility was the theme of Disability History Month. The option of live captioning, a BSL interpreter was available for the tour and evening café, and a script and a pre-recorded tour was available in advance and is available here.
The telepresence tours gave attendees a sense of being inside the Assisted Living Studio. This direct experience of telepresence demonstrates how it may improve access to many aspects of life such as work, school and cultural activities. Attendees could then consider using different robotic technologies such as telepresence robots, sensors and mobility technology to ease living at home. The quick survey many attendees completed will be used to develop future public tours of the laboratory.
The mini knowledge café welcomed fifty participants from all over the world who were then encouraged to become co-researchers. The team started with presenting their project, the possible uses and limitations found and the key messages pressing for public involvement from the outset of design, ethics issues relating to consent and control and equality around access and accessibility.
The discussion that followed echoed these key messages with concerns regarding personalised functionality, personal data management and the necessity for robots to respond to stammer, sign language, and varied communication forms. There were also exciting discussions about the potential of robots and ideas about uses of robotics technology for young children, companionship, prompts, and the possibilities of breaking down barriers to enjoy life to the full like anyone else. Public involvement, we heard, needs to start at the research bidding stage to create the questions, build the team and design the research process. For that to happen, welcome, safety and trust need to be built at a comfortable pace.The Participation Cube (Gibson et al., 2020) evaluated the attendees' experience of accessibility of the mini knowledge café and opportunities to make their voice heard. The visual image of responses showed that most people found the event accessible and provided a valuable forum for discussion. The learning from this event will inform a Planning for Accessibility resource to ensure inclusivity and meet the legal requirements now in place for all public events.
This event was an excellent example of inter-faculty collaboration between FET and HAS, which included public involvement. For further information about the project, see our Disability Rights and Robotics website – www.disabilityrightsandrobotics.co.uk for reports, events and resources. Please contact Sophie Savage, Associate Lecturer or Tillie Curran, Visiting Fellow – emails on the website.
Collaborating with 10th Chippenham Cubs group
Presentation to 10th Chippenham Cubs group - http://10thchippenham.org.uk/
Thursday 3rd December Disability Rights and Robotics – making dreams come true?
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A reflection on co-research.
A Narrative Personal Profile – Dr. Jackie Clarke.
Jackie Clarke is a Family Carer working for improvement and change for over 38 years and counting. She is the Family Carer of her adult son who has Autism & Complex Needs. She has two grown children and two grown grandchildren.
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