Starting a Disability Reading Group

I began a one year fellowship at the Data and Society Research Institute, NYC last September. It’s been a great experience to work alongside researchers asking complex and urgent questions regarding algorithm, data and social justice. Part of my contribution as a fellow is to organize and participate in reading groups.

I’m excited to start a Disability Reading Group that focuses on disability in the context of art, technology, accessibility and inclusion, information ethics and (artificial) intelligence. The first meeting will take place in November 30, 2017 between 4~6pm. It is open to public and here’s a RSVP page. The special guest Chancey Fleet is an Assistive Technology Coordinator, Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library at New York Public Library.

Screenreader Coding Workshop at NYU Ability Project, 2016

I met Chancey when I volunteered to teach for Screenreader Coding Workshop at NYU Ability Project. The workshop series was initiated by the wonderful Claire Kearney-Volpe. It was an opportunity to meet blind and visually impaired people who are interested in computer programming and accessible technology.

Signing Coders, 2016

Screenreader Coding Workshop was a natural counterpart to Signing Coders, which focused on teaching computer programming for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Many of the volunteers taught in both programs, including Atul Varma and Yeseul Song. We collaborated to make learning activities such as Drawing bot that use body as a programming language and Yeseul created gesture coding game based on the experience.

Our co-teaching experience was influential for my understanding of pedagogy and accessibility and lead to a series of Unlearning Disability workshops. Ongoing interaction with people with various disability and impairment helped me shape stronger interest on disability studies and accessibility, leading to an inclusive curriculum of Uncertainty School. The Disability Reading Group is an extension of this work, an attempt to continue collaborative research and development independently from commercial interest. You can check out what I’m reading on the subject matter on my are.na channel.

Reading group description

While many technologies, in general, brings accessibility to disabled and marginalized people, technology can also create a conflict of access needs and potentially render certain people invisible. Reference

In this reading group, we will try to distinguish AI-Human Interaction from conventional Human-Computer Interaction. AI masks its operation opaquely, which can discriminate against disabled people by hiding certain information from them. My friend Chancey wrote about her experience with Alexa and Amazon app when the apps conflict each other. Reference

Also, consumer AI products (like Alexa or Siri) are designed to be ubiquitous in intimate settings. In real life, they can be invasive and breach privacy. Reference

Free and open to public.
November 30, 2017. 4~6pm. 
RSVP

Suggested Readings

Giving Voice
Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality
By Meryl Alper 
Chapter 9 (p. 151~172)

Facebook (Still) Letting Housing Advertisers Exclude Users by Race
By Julia Angwin, Ariana Tobin and Madeleine Varner

Accessibility

If you are interested but can’t participate in person this time, please write me (taeyoon@datasociety.net) and I can invite you to the next one. It is also possible to join via conference call, if you want to participate over distance. For anyone who needs American Sign Language interpretation, please let me know and I’ll do my best to arrange an interpreter. The Data and Society Research Institute facilities are accessible by wheelchair. The reading group will take place every other month, each time with a particular focus.