Panel Presentation Descriptions

10:15 am – 11:30 am

Panel A: Redefining Disability

Making space for identifying value in disability

Cardinal Room, Clubhouse


Alex Haagaard, The Disabled List
Speculating through disability

This presentation examines disability as an enactment of liminality, a habitual, simultaneous navigation and negotiation of reality and unreality. It considers how understanding disability as a practice of liminality can open up possibilities for speculative design, drawing on Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby’s argument that designerly generation of alternative realities can, “help people construct compasses…for navigating new sets of values.”

Josh Halstead, CUNY & The Disabled List
Cyber-belonging: Crip identity in the construction of cyberspace

Giving people with disabilities a sense of “belonging” in cyberspace typically involve retrofitting digital domains to have the capacity for multimodal interactions. In this talk, Josh Halstead will discuss a new concept coined cyber-belonging, in which he pulls from disability-led design strategies and imaginaries. He argues for cyberspace to also reflect the values and identity of people with disabilities in the way we move through time and space.

Brigitte Pawliw-Fry, Stanford University
Disability Studies interventions into Stanford’s disability history

Based on archival and published sources from Stanford Special Collections, Brigitte is exploring the way in which ‘disability’ on Stanford’s campus came to signify a more socially constructed category, beyond a purely medical or legal one. Her work asks such questions as: how did federal legal changes, such as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, change conceptions? How did grassroots student organizing intervene in the federal?

Panel B: At Your Fingertips—Disability on Social Media

Communicating the disabled self in the age of the internet

Room 215, Old Union

Shelley Lloyd, Clemson University
Digital confessional: The rhetoric of mental disability online

This presentation will look  at the ways in which young people operate within the rhetorics of mental disability online. Given that Prendergast and others have argued that to be disabled mentally is to be disabled rhetorically, how can young people take their power – their rhetoricity back?

Sohum Pal, Yale University
Crip Twitter and utopic feeling: How disabled Twitter activism reorganizes affects

This presentation thinks about how disabled Twitter activists shape the feelings of their followers, and examines what impact those feelings have in the world.

11:30 am – 12:45 pm

Panel A: Disability on Screen & in Print

How disability is represented in media and what it means

Cardinal Room, Clubhouse

Daisy Elise Feddoes, Stanford University

Convenience Store Woman: The ins and outs of normality

The goal of this presentation  is to look at the boundary between normal and abnormal, who gets to define that boundary, and look at how the main character resists conforming to others expectations at to her own detriment. To look at these issues, this study synthesizes information on Japanese society as a whole, crip and disability study theories, and the importance of the novel specifically as an exploratory learning resource.

Nima Rassooli, University of California, San Diego
‘Fuck Society’ and to the next episode of the serial freak show: The neoliberal biopolitical imaginary of Mr. Robot

Nima is presenting a paper that is at the intersection of critical disability studies, American studies, ethnic studies, surveillance studies, and television studies.  Paper focuses on the TV show Mr. Robot. Mr. Robot has captured the spirit of the Occupy Movement to redistribute wealth from the 1% and end consumer debt. From the “mentally ill” cyberpunk hacker Elliot Alderson to the transgender Chinese State Minister, the show goes in depth to understand the complicated motives and power relations among the protagonists and antagonists who are marked by non-normative bodies. The paper examines how biopower is mapped across the show’s universe in relation to differences surrounding race, gender, sexuality, and ability.

Shayla Sabada, University of Toronto
The good, the bad & the ugly: Autistic representation on Netflix’s Atypical

This presentation will explore the representation of white male autistic sexuality in Robia Rashid’s show, Atypical (2017) through a political/relational lens of disability. Explicit focus will be given to relationships the autistic character in the show, Sam, navigates while living in a compulsory-neurotypical society with support from his interdependent relationship with his parents. Through this relationship, the presentation will acknowledge the ways the show both defies and reinforces the concept of the caregiver-gatekeeper mentality through dissection of the familiar autism-trope, or “autism-parenting.”

Maruyama Tomomi, Housei University
Disability representation in Japanese television documentary: The case of ‘NNN Document’

This presentation focuses on the formation and transformation of disability representation in NNN Document (1970 -), a news documentary program produced by 29 stations of the Nippon News Network, which has been offering programs on postwar Japanese society for over 40 years. Providing a visual experience rooted in our physical senses, television is a medium that intervenes in daily life. As such, its depictions of disability can be said to be intimately connected with general societal perception of and attitudes towards disability. In this presentation, I use program archives to trace how such perceptions have been shaped and transformed by NNN Document over time. This research is supported by the “Images of Postwar Japan in Television Archives” project (MEXT/JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP 26285106).

Panel B: Drawing the Disabled Body

Addressing visual representations of human diversity

Room 215, Old Union

Amin Heidari, Macquarie University
The perfect body of emojis

Bitmojis, Memojis, and AR emojis project images of the perfect bodies in online interactions. This presentation highlights why and how the notion of ‘disability’ is absent from those body images.

Veronica Hicks, Penn State University
Disabled black superheroines and villainesses: A mainstream vs. alternative comics publishing comparison about accurate and mis-representations of women of color with disabilities

How does a comic book artist draw a disabled woman of color superhero? This examination of historical women of color with disabilities as superheroes and supervillains shows how disabled women of color must, by default, become anomalies in the society viewing them. Examples of responsibly depicting disabled women of color in comics are shared in this critical look at disabled minority identity representation in mainstream and alternative comics publishing.

Alanna Reyes, University of California, San Diego
Genius by design: (Super)assistive technology and ability

In many superhero stories, the people who make tools, weapons, and clothes for superheroes are super geniuses. I argue that this promotes an incorrect idea that people need to be extremely smart to make their own assistive technology.

12:45 pm – 2:00 pm

Panel A: Disability & Education

Learning in an ableist world

Cardinal Room, Clubhouse

Emeline Brulé, University of Sussex
A differently-visual approach to assistive learning technologies

This talk discusses current design and use of assistive technologies for visually impaired children. It argues these technologies foreground access as transcription of curriculum materials in non-visual ways, but fail to consider phenomenological, social and cultural aspects of learning. It proposes to design for differently-visual didactics instead.

Melissa Nesrallah, University of Toronto
Madness in academia: How scholars with body-mind variance are cripping the ivory tower

Can one be both “mad” and an academic? What place is there for persons with “mental illness” in higher education? Drawing on Margaret Price (2011), among others, this presentation argues that ableist/sanist notions of the “ideal scholar” serve to marginalize students and professors with mental variance within the realm of academia. More specifically, troubling the long-held values of educational culture—e.g. rationality, participation, independence, coherence, collegiality, and productivity (Price, 2011)—by revealing how they often serve to determine who is considered “teachable,” who should or should not be in the classroom.

Marrok Sedgwick, University of California, Santa Cruz
Phonocentrism in Special Education: A Disability and Performance Studies Perspective

Many educators and others involved in special education assume that the development of speech is a central goal in the education of youth with disabilities that affect speech. In this presentation, I argue that this is purely a cultural preference that can be dismantled through understanding disability, deaf, and performance studies.

Nadine Violette, University of Toronto
Cripping the script: Neoliberal normativity & the narrative of failure

Nadine’s work explores how queer theory and critical disability studies can be used to intervene in neoliberal narratives of “success” in education. More specifically, Nadine is concerned with how certain curricula reinforce neoliberal normativity and bind non-normative student-subjects to a kind of “failure.” She is in the preliminary stages of her thesis and is eager to be in conversation with others on the intersections of gender, sexuality, ability, and race in and beyond the field of education.

Panel B: Disability Social Justice

Exploring new frontiers of disability rights

Room 215, Old Union

Elaine Cagulada, University of Toronto
Perceiving the Imminent Danger of Disability: Disability perceived as meaningful in police culture

In this presentation, interpretive disability studies and police culture meet, inviting readers to wonder about how particular bodies are framed by police media and how such framings may fuel discourses of disability as a thing to be feared. This paper closely analyzes how an official Toronto Police Service media text frames disability as a dangerous and uncooperative problem, in turn highlighting how readers are called to join forces with the police as ‘helpers’ of the disabled and ‘protectors’ of the state.

Madeleine De Welles, University of Toronto
Narratives of Down syndrome: Exploring intellectual disability within children’s narratives

Narratives of Down syndrome: Exploring intellectual disability within children’s narratives uses disability studies and childhood studies to map the ways in which intellectual disability is represented to children. I aim to address how we can re-orient ourselves to intellectual disability, in particular Down syndrome, in a deeper and more relational way. More generally, my work intends to release the many ways in which we all interact, interpret, and are in relation to disability in our everyday lives.

Lauren Munro, Wilfrid Laurier University
Accessibility and arts-based research: Integrating a disability justice framework

Art and culture are important sites of resistance, as they politicize representation and situate collective liberation in the project of redefining the way society sees disability. This presentation will consider how lessons learned within arts and disability culture and the application of the disability justice framework can improve ABR and, more broadly, Media Studies. The examples given in this talk are based on the presenter’s own work and observations, alongside best practices in community event organizing.

2:00 pm – 3:15 pm

Panel A: Art, Society, & Disability—Oh My!

Exploring historical understandings of disability

Cardinal Room, Clubhouse

Vassiliki Chalaza, University of the Aegean
“They don’t want their sight back!”: Liminal identities, assistive technologies and the blind movement in the Greek press (1900 – 1980)

This paper, by utilizing body politics insights, investigates how the Greek printed press represented blind identities through reports on assistive technology innovations during the 20th century. In doing so, the paper discusses the continuities and discontinuities in the representations of the Blind in the Greek press, by framing it within broader social and cultural perceptions.

Sophie Jenkins, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Returning the look: reading the disabled body in Deana Lawson’s portrait photography

This paper centers on a double portrait by Deana Lawson, titled Barbara and Mother, which depicts a woman wearing a prosthetic leg posing with her daughter. Through a close reading of the photograph, this paper considers photography’s intricate relationship to historic depictions of the disabled and challenges traditional assumptions about the direction of the gaze as it has regarded non-normative bodies.

Catherine Lamendola, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Marybel: The doll that gets well – Polio, play, and notions of “cure” in mid-century America

This presentation positions the toy Marybel: The Doll that Gets Well (1959) as an important piece of disability material culture through an examination of advertising strategies, mid-century notions of cure, and the American polio zeitgeist.

Ashoka Vardhan, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi
Narrating gender: Without and within normal frameworks

Ashoka explores two exhibitions at the Kochi Biennale 2019 as narratives of gender that go beyond the Normal. Using Postcolonial Theory, Narrative Theory and Disability Studies, he argues that one of them reimagines “narrative prosthesis” while the other ruptures the visual archive from within.

Panel B: Cripping Technology & Philosophy

Thinking about the machine-human interface

Room 215, Old Union

Priyam Mathur, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, & Blessin Varkey, Tamana
Developmental disabilities and performativity: Contemporary ideas of the body and the role of technology

This presentation attempts to explore the paradigm and concept of performativity in relation to the intervention of technology in the discourse of disabled persons with developmental disorders. The study uses case studies of cultural context specific computer-based applications that have been used by persons with IDD, and have proven to improve their sense of self-efficacy along with cognition and rehabilitation. The presentation ultimately renegotiates concepts of embodiment, social infrastructure, and the performance of disability—through the techno-performative model.

Mehak Sawhney, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
Voice Technologies and Print Disability in India

This presentation will focus on speech recognition and voice biometrics as voice based media technologies in a largely print-disabled country such as India. Through an ethnographic engagement with these media technologies, it will reflect on: a) illiteracy qua print disability as a socio-cultural condition and the technological affordances it effectuates, and b) the micro-ontologies of data that emerge in the context of a multilingual society.

Frank Mondelli, Stanford University
Technolinguistic poiesis: Algorithmic sign language and assistive media in Japan

Faced with a greying population and increasing demands for disability justice, Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, has pledged to develop a range of assistive technologies into its media and broadcasting. One such format nearing completion in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics is Shuwa CG, an assemblage of algorithmic processes that translate from Japanese to generate live visualizations of Japanese Sign Language (JSL) through 3D computer graphics. In this talk, I theorize a mode of communication called technolinguistic poiesis, and argue that that both the cultural and technological aspects of Shuwa CG point to a larger politics of disability, machine learning, and political resistance.

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