Monday, November 2, 2015

2015 International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference

It's All About the People

The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island:

We invite you to attend the conference and tell your friends about it. In fact, bring them along, especially if they are skeptical about the value of virtual worlds.

Presenters will present from the United Kingdom, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and the US. See below for details about the presenters and their topics, and join us on the 13th and 14th of November as we celebrate successes, identify issues and re-affirm the rights of people with disabilities across the world.

FRIDAY November 13, 2015
Times listed are US Pacific Standard Time

9:00am - Effectiveness Study of a Community-Based Pain Clinic, Muhammad Abdul Hadi
Chronic pain. a significant disabling condition, is often managed ineffectively in the primary care setting. Dr. Hadi led a research team that investigated the role of nurses and pharmacists, operating out of community-based pain clinics, in providing effective care for chronic pain patients.

Presenter Bio:
Dr. Muhammad Abdul Hadi is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at the College of Pharmacy, Umm-Al-Qura University, Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Educated at the University of Leeds, he previously taught at Monash University. He specializes in mixed methods research.

10:30am - The Edge of Normal, Hana Schank
What is normal? In Hana Schank’s memoir "The Edge of Normal" about raising a visually impaired child, she discovers that the very definition of normal is up for grabs. In this session Hana will talk about what led her to write the book, the concept of redefining normal, and she'll read a short excerpt and then will open it up to discussion for others to share their experiences on the topic.

Presenter Bio:
Hana Schank is a writer and essayist. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post and The, Hana writes on a range of topics including parenting, education, disability, technology and travel. Her first book, a memoir about planning her wedding, was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her Kindle Single, The Edge of Normal, was excerpted in Longreads and the Sunday Times Magazine (UK) and is currently being translated into Chinese. In addition to writing, Hana runs a technology consulting firm, and is the mother of two young children.

12:00pm - The Right to be Rescued, Jordan Melograna
“The Right to be Rescued” is a short, 14 1/2 minute documentary that tells the stories of people with disabilities affected by Hurricane Katrina. The goal of the film is to make emergency planners aware of the specific needs of people with disabilities and push them to alter their disaster plans to make sure those needs are met. Jordan will show the film and lead a discussion about how it could be used to advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities.

Presenter Bio:
Jordan Melograna is Creative Director of Rooted in Rights, an international disability rights video and social media project, housed at Disability Rights Washington, a private non-profit organization that protects the rights of people with disabilities in the state of Washington. He produces, shoots and edits videos and other creative content to support advocacy around treatment of people with disabilities. He has a focus on non-profit and advocacy media, including for disaster response and transportation justice organizations.

1:30pm - WORLDS APART: Why SL Makes Me More Normal Than RL, Mook Wheeler
A look at virtual world play from the perspective of an Aspergers individual. Mook describes how Second Life's virtual world properties -- its player interface, customisable settings, communication mechanisms, world characteristics and more -- help mitigate and alleviate her RL condition to the degree that she feels and comes across to others as nearly 'normal' or 'neurotypical' in SL. This transformation is profound enough that it is life-changing. Mook begins by describing the three main areas of pathology her condition gives her -- social difficulties, sensory issues, and obsessional boundary and pattern control. She then shows how certain SL properties make a key difference to her, by occluding, transforming or even removing these difficulties -- in fact, by 'suspending' many of her symptoms during her time inworld. The talk will finish with a Q&A session with Mook and her RL husband.

Presenter Bio:
Mook Wheeler is an Aspergers individual who also manages agoraphobia and clinical depression. She holds a PhD in sociology & cultural studies and was a university lecturer until she was medically retired several years ago.

3:00pm - Disability at Intersections: International Conversations on Disability in Relation to Other Identities and Social Justice Spectrum, Akemi Nishida
This presentation invites the audience to explore disability at the intersection with other arrays of identity and social justice such as race, gender, sexuality, nationality, class, and more. Using cases discussed in an edited book Occupying Disability: Critical Approaches to Community, Justice, and Decolonizing Disability — which includes lives of disabled people in different regions of the world (e.g., Japan, Israel, Brazil) and as emerging at different events (e.g., mental health self-advocacy organizing, occupy movement, higher education)— Akemi will critically explore the ways in which disability is experienced in relation with one’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and nationality. Also discussed in this presentation is how ableism is constructed interactively with racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other social injustices. This presentation is intended to be as interactive as possible, to share and build knowledge collectively with the audience. Please feel free to bring up cases from your experiences to explore disability at intersections.

Presenter Bio:
Akemi Nishida uses research, education, and activism to investigate the ways in which ableism and saneism are exercised in relation to racism, sexism, and other forms of social injustices. She also uses such methods to work towards cross-community solidarity for the liberation and celebration of community power. In her research and teaching, Nishida brings together disability studies, critical race theories, transnational feminist studies, and immigration studies, among others. Prior to joining The Disability and Human Development and Women’s and Gender Studies departments at University of Illinois at Chicago as an assistant professor, Nishida earned her Ph.D. in Critical Social Psychology from the City University of New York. She has investigated the aforementioned theses in the context of the neoliberal political economy, using cases from the U.S. public health care system, higher education, and the activist community. In her current research, she traces the development of the U.S. neoliberal public health-care assemblage and its effects on the everyday lives of lower- or no-income disabled people and mostly lower-income immigrant and non-immigrant women of color who are situated as care recipients and/or paid providers. Also in the research, she looks into the development of affective relationality between those people as they form their own interdependent caring bond as a way to resist the exploitative healthcare structure. Nishida’s research has been funded by the American Association of University Women and The Linda Powell Pruitt Dissertation Scholarship among others. Her work has been published in Multicultural Perspectives, Disability Studies Quarterly, and Occupy! n+1. Her commitment for disability and other social justices continues outside of academia as she works as a member of a national organization, The Disability Justice Collective.

SATURDAY November 14, 2015
Times listed are US Pacific Standard Time

9:00am - Who is The Sojourner? What is Dreams?, Golda Stein
You might have seen her name in various places, or heard it. Virtual Ability named their auditorium after her. Her name is all over the Dreams Community sims. Just who is this lady? Why is she important to the disability community of Second Life? The Sojourner (Karen Gans) passed away May 25, 2008, after an extended illness.

Presenter Bio:
Ruth Knox (SL: Golda Stein) is unconventional. After being a stay-at-home mom when her kids were young, she did compliance work for a local USDA office. Then went to college and graduated with a degree in Family Science Communication. Attended travel school and worked as a travel agent. Though retired, she continues to be the stay-at-home mom taking care of her disabled daughter and her autistic grandson. As an adult, she was diagnosed with ADHD and mild narcolepsy.

Ruth got involved in Second Life through her daughter, who read about the Brigadoon Project for autistics. Dreams, run by The Sojourner (RL: Karen Gans), became her Second Life focus. With the passing of Soj in May of 2008, Soj’s real life husband asked if Ruth would continue the program at Dreams. Dreams has support groups for stroke survivors, autistics/Asperger and ADHD. Dreams encourages builders with regular contests. Kelyren Benoir has been assisting her. Outside of SL, Ruth enjoys sewing and machine embroidery.

10:30am - Making a Difference, One Line of Code at a Time, Captain Code
What would you do if your computer didn't have a monitor? How would you use SL (or even a simple word processor)? You would probably need some kind of audio-based program to read what's on the screen. Believe it or not, that's how blind people do it. There are software applications called ""screen readers"" that literally speak what's on the screen. But most programs are designed to provide the best *visual* experience, often sacrificing accessibility for people using screen readers; and for obvious reasons Second Life is no exception.

That's where I come in. In both RL and SL, I use my programming skills to make systems easier to use with a screen reader. So in this presentation, I would like to demonstrate how screen readers work, and share how I've been able to help make SL a better place for screen reader users.

12:00pm - People Helping People - Down to the Marrow, Katsii Tennen
Katsii Tennen will present the mission and drive of Be the Match, and why more and more people in Second Life get involved every year. I will begin by telling the personal story of Maybe Morahan, the woman on Second Life who started the ball rolling, what motivated her and the results of her work. She has inspired an ongoing and growing outreach with encouraging results.

Katsii will also talk about Be the Match itself and how the Second Life work is especially aimed at minorities and others underrepresented in the bone marrow banks and the need for greater outreach to a diverse population.

1:30pm - Freaks: Stories of People on the Fringes of Life, Slatan Dryke
Members of the disability community around the world may find this presentation especially meaningful. It must be remembered that, while they were born, grew up, worked, fell in love, married, had children, and died, like everyone else, these people dreamed of being seen not as 'freaks' but as people. Every person with a disability shares this dream, to be part of society without being viewed as 'freaks.'

Presenter Bio:
Slatan Dryke is Italian and a Second Life veteran. He is a mentor, linguist, artist and photographer, endlessly curious and eager to share what he learns with others.

Slatan began his Mentoring career when the Mentoring program was officially managed by Linden Labs. He is actually Mentor and Educator for several groups but a special mention goes to Virtual Ability Group with the specfic purpose to simplify Second Life for those residents with different abilities, giving distinct classes.

As an artist and photographer, some of his sculptures are displayed in Art Galleries, included UWA art space.

As a photographer his work is displayed at Virtual Ability's Cape Able Art Gallery, and he has his own Flickr page, here:

3:00pm - Closing Performance: ~DRUM~
We are the troupe ~DRUM~ (Divine Rhythms of Universal Music).

DRUM's goal is to bring the world to you via the power of drumming. Our aim is to have fun and to create incredible, beautiful rhythms - live. We have a variety of different sets we play live including Taiko, Native American, African, Latin, East Indian, Mallet, Wall set, Steel Pan, African Ghost, Rack, Rusty barrels, and our newest set, Brazillian.

Members of the DRUM group have collaborated to create the unique sounds, drums, and animations that enable us to perform. Our performances are live and are subtly different each time - they are not pre-recorded music.

The sounds are created right within Second Life. We then send them out and back in via stream in order to provide you with a lag free experience!

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