ConnectingUp – Get ConnectED: Weaving A New Social Web for People with Disabilities.

The following is fro the Blog of Beth Kanter, a friend who’s up in Brisbane at the ConnectingUp Conference for Non-profits. Big thanks to Beth.

I am posting her notes on this breakout session as it highlights some of the key Benefits and Barriers for people living with disability participating in the digital space – some of the very reasons why Lifekludger exists to play a part in overcoming barriers and enriching human lives.

Breakout Session 1

Jenny Kapp, Community Connections Australia – Get ConnectED: Weaving A New Social Web for People with Disabilities.

Jenny had us do some speed networking at the beginning session. She then asked us to talk in pairs about our experience with online networking and asked people to share.

At the stage of staring at it from a distance
Personal experience, to connect to younger groups
Using Facebook and Linked but in the basic stages
Gave an overview of some statistics of Internet usage/access of the world’s population. Only 1/5 of the world’s population has used the Internet and if you drill down into the numbers to look at people with disabilities there is an even smaller percentage of users. Shared some data about the differences and similarities of how people with and without disabilities were using the Internet.

Benefits for people with disabilities:

Psychological
Improve health outcomes
Improved relationships with family

Barriers
Cost
Availability of assisted technologies
Reactive design of the assistive technologies – behind what’s actually happpening
Inaccessible hardware or software configuration
Lack of awareness of opportunities
Different needs of different people with different disabilities

“Inexperience in managing the complexities of social life has left may people with disabilities to engage with new technologies.” from a study by two Australian researchers. Access is only the first part of the equation.

Web 1.0 was about access and Web 2.0 is about effective use and connect with other people.

Their project will have a way to facilitate online communication between people with disabilities and able-bodied peers using existing social networking utilities – ChiPs and MentorNet.

Jenny is about to pilot a 12 Week Training Program. The program introduces how to use the technology, but also social skills. They will be using Skype, Second Life, Facebook, and MySpace.

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