Articles, Newsletters, Podcasts, and Video
June Lowery is Head of Unit and Deputy to the Director at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CNECT). She has worked for the EU institutions in Luxembourg for the past 25 years in a wide variety of fields including publications, finance, logistics, and digital inclusion. Her current responsibilities include web accessibility, language technology and online safety for children. She is also the CNECT equality coordinator. She is passionate about her job, and about making the digital world safer for children, and more accessible, inclusive and multilingual for all.more
Roughly 61 million adults in the U.S. live with a disability, yet many businesses aren’t meeting the accessibility standards necessary to effectively reach this large percentage of the population. Helping businesses meet these standards is at the core of what we do at Oleb Media. However, a lot of business owners may be curious about simple actions they can take right now to make impactful improvements to their accessibility. That’s exactly the focus of amore
Antonio Santos is a Social Media Business Evangelist and Senior Data Intelligence Expert, at Atos, focusing on Digital Inclusion, Social Media Engagement, and Social Business. He is a Sociologist with expertise on Applied Research; he previously worked in the Media, Military, Public Sector and Telecom before joining Siemens IT in 2006 in Cork and Atos in 2011. According to Onalytica who measures online presence and influence, Antonio is the 3rd most influential employee in the world, in Consulting based on data from Twitter and LinkedIn and number one on Sustainability amongst employees of the 48 most important consulting companies globally.
In 2014 with Debra Ruh and Neil Milliken he creates axschat. A weekly Twitter chat on diversity and inclusion, who become the most popular twitter conversation on that topic over the last six years. AXSChat was chosen by Valuable 500 CEO Caroline Casey to become one of their primary media partners and to support their efforts to create a community to revolutionise disability inclusion through business leadership and opportunity.
Debra Ruh is a seasoned entrepreneur that focuses on Global Disability Inclusion, ICT Accessibility, EmployAbility, Marketing and Communications Strategies and Digital Media. She has provided global leadership to governments, corporations, NGOs and DPO’s (Disability Persons Organizations) all over the world supporting research, outreach, marketing strategies, policy and standards initiatives with public- and private-sector. Policy, Legislative and Technical Experience includes the United Nations Convention of Rights for People with Disabilities (CRPD), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 503, 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, W3C, WCAG 2.0 and ISO. Debra is also a seasoned Entrepreneur (founder of three firms): Ruh Global Communications, TecAccess, Strategic Performance Solutions.
Neil currently works for Atos as Head of Accessibility & Inclusion where his role is to help make the world a better place by delivering better technology for our customers and staff, embedding inclusive practice into the Business As Usual Processes of organisations with thousands of employees and turnovers numbering in billions.
He created the Atos Centre of Competence encompassing Accessibility, Inclusive Design and Assistive Technology Services. This team now services multiple accounts and delivers best practice, support and consultancy for the organisation. www.atos.net/iux
Matt Gibson & Ramon Lapenta
Matt Gibson is a Director at Cyber-Duck, a user-centric digital transformation agency based out of the UK.
He helps oversee all aspects of the production lifecycle, including research, design, and delivery of products and services, for organisations like Sport England, Compare the Market, and the Bank of England.
As a BIMA Hot 100 top creative in the UK, he is a champion for inclusive design, and accessibility best practices, levelling up Cyber-Duck’s team and clients’ awareness and knowledge. He truly believes in the universality of the web, and the power that inclusive design has in creating better experiences for everyone.
Ramon Lapenta also works at Cyber-Duck, and he is a technical lead and senior front-end engineer. He spent the best part of the last 20 years building things for the web, and most of his life was involved in the design industry. Working at Cyber-Duck allows him to interact with people from very different backgrounds, and to learn to adapt is work to cater for many different needs, which eventually turned me to working with Accessibility.
As a champion for Accessibility in his company, with Matt, they get to help their team to understand those needs and to work with an open mind for inclusive design and building a web that’s helpful for everyone.more
There’s a lot of conversation taking place about Audio Description. While Flipping the Script is less about the mainstream AD talk, I wanted to bring some perspective to this discussion. I invited Roy Samuelson to share some of what he has been involved in as a means of creating awareness and advancing Audio Description. We’re […]more
Like a werewolf, my life been a story of transformations. From a poor visually impaired kid in a Pennsylvania steel mill town afraid he would never achieve anything, into a man whose life is full of purpose and meaning. From a boy who tried to pass as sighted, afraid of who he was, into a man ferociously declaring his blindness. I’ve done many things my younger self would not have believed possible.
I have a PhD in English literature and Disability Studies. I have published and presented my research around the world. I have a job in Disability Services. And I have a podcast called Freaks & Psychos: The Disability in Horror Podcast, a show that brings knowledge of Disability Studies to representations and themes of disability to a popular genre that I love.
Blind Transformations — From Deficit to Difference
If I wasn’t blind, I don’t think that I would be motivated to do all these things. When my thinking about blindness shifted from deficit to difference, I started to view my life through the social model of disability, which views disabilities as products of barriers and prejudices. That recognition changed me in profound ways, like a man struck by moonlight, turned animalistic, made new.
Freaks & Psychos allows me to bring academic concepts to a non-academic audience: horror fans. So far, folks have been receptive. The show has listeners in 27 countries and 45 U.S. states. I have interviewed incredible guests, such as Angela M. Smith, disability studies scholar, to discuss Freaks; Kristina Arntz, a visually impaired actress, to discuss Don’t Breathe; literary and film critics Matthew Connolly and Joshua T. Anderson, to discuss slashers and werewolves; and various other friends and fans. Some of them live with disabilities or have loved ones who do.
From Representation to Access
I love sinking my teeth into stories. They allow me to imagine the world otherwise. Horror and Disability Studies both value the stories of those who are different, and that’s why both have been empowering. They also give me the tools to know when representations fail us. Many blind characters in literature and film fall into tropes and stereotypes. There’s the terrorized blind woman (Wait Until Dark), the blind psychic who sees what others can’t (Tiresias of Greek myth), and the bitter cripple (Scent of a Woman).
But horror films can also defy stereotypes, as in Don’t Breathe, a 2016 movie that pits a blind man (and his guide dog) against a trio of thieves. I find it intriguing because we don’t get too many blind villains. Still, the character is portrayed by a sighted actor (Stephen Lang), who does a great job, but took that role from a blind actor. The conversation ultimately comes down to access. We must not only strive to tell better stories, but also demand that these stories are told by blind people.
We must also work to make media more accessible. My podcast’s next episode covers audio description, an accessibility feature little-known outside of the blind community. I interviewed Liam Leonard, a described video writer for a Canadian media company, about the rewards and challenges of writing audio description for horror movies. Shudder, the premier streaming service dedicated to horror, does not have audio description for its content. Inquiries have yielded the lackluster “We’ll look into it” response. Looks like a letter writing campaign is in order!
My blindness has linked me with amazing people and allowed me to connect my two passions—disability advocacy and horror! When we think of blindness as a full moon, a source of primal power and transformation, it wakes us to our possibilities. Embrace the freak, the werewolf, the outsider who is not really outside. Because for the willing—as in that infamous Tod Browning movie Freaks—there is always a place at the table. It is up to you whether to accept it.
About the Author
Andrew Sydlik lives in Columbus, Ohio and works in Disability Services at Otterbein University. Legally blind, his personal experiences inform his advocacy. He hosts Freaks & Psychos: The Disability in Horror Podcast, a show that brings his knowledge of Disability Studies to a popular audience by looking at representations of and themes of disability in the horror genre.
He graduated with a PhD in Disability Studies and English Literature from the Ohio State University. His analysis of blindness in Denis Diderot’s Letter on the Blind and Royall Tyler’s The Algerine Captive appears in Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, and his discussion of John Milton’s blindness and its influence on his poetry appears in Wordgathering, a journal for disabled authors. He is currently working on essays about disability and trauma in rural horror and disability in the sci-fi/horror television series The X-Files.
Andrew also writes fiction and poetry, some of which explores his own disability experience being legally blind. His work has appeared in Disability Experiences (Layman Poupard Publishing), Wordgathering, Grasslimb, Albeit, The Were-Traveler, Grey Sparrow, The Corner Club Press, The Holiday Café, Taproot Literary Review, The Shine Journal, Bewildering Stories, and the anthology Come Together, Imagine Peace (Bottom Dog Press).more
Richard is Head of Accessibility at CDDO (Central Digital and Data Office). He focuses on building accessibility capability and culture in central government and the wider public sector through Accessibility Empathy Lab sessions, clinics, training, talks and webinars, and manages the cross government accessibility communities.
Until April 2021 the accessibility monitoring and capability functions were within GDS (Government Digital Service), and this work now continues through CDDO.more
Disabled Immigrants: Living on the Edge of Barbwire Qudsiya Naqui
Content notes: ableist and sanist language, eugenics, suicide, medical neglect, suffering, abuse, violence, incarceration
I first became interested in the disabled immigrant experience through my work running legal services programs for unaccompanied immigrant children detained at the U.S. border from 2011-2018. My work often made me think of a poem by the great Mexican-American queer disabled writer, Gloria Anzaldua:
“1,950-mile-long open wound
I never planned on writing about video games for my column. But after three columns about four games by two different studios and counting, Imore