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Dr. Tracey Skelton and Dr. Lawrence Berg

Dr. Gary Birch

A conversation with Dr. Bonita Sawatsky

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Keynote Speakers

 Dr Tracey Skelton and Dr Gary Birch presented at the DHRN Third Annual Conference. Their topics were: D/deaf Culture and the Use of the Internet to Foster Community, and Emerging Wireless Technologies - Enabler or Barrier?

Dr Gary Birch touched upon the challenges that people with disability face with everyday technology. A few examples given were, calling an elevator or paying for subway tickets. Dr. Birch spoke of the use of pda’s to overcome these obstacles; to buy tickets, or pay for purchases using e-money (similar to using a debit card.) However wireless technology is emerging at a fast pace, meaning that the shelf life of the technology is not long. This makes it hard for the low resourced sector to keep up with the technologies. What Dr. Birch would like to see is strong regulations in place with industry. Through developing relationships with industry who are trying to stay ahead of the regulation curve, the result will be cost effective disabled friendly devices, created by the companies who have the budget to include software in their devices that will connect with other disabled friendly devices.

Dr. Tracey Skelton spoke of her research with British Sign Language and the use of wireless technology. She interviewed people within the deaf community and their use of the internet to connect with other deaf people and people who were not deaf.  Dr. Skelton looked at barriers that were crossed through the use of the wireless technology, such as making travel reservations, and having social interactions without having to be in the same place. Through virtual connections her interviewees were traveling bodily.

View her power point presentation here