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Histories of Disability Technologies

Welcome to the online home of Carleton University’s Disability Research Group. Founded in 2013 by three members of the Disability Studies Committee at Carleton, we are a thoroughly interdisciplinary team from a wide range of scholarly and professional backgrounds. Our group presently includes a biomedical engineer, a defence scientist, a social worker, a librarian, an independent living specialist and a handful of historians. Our mission is to investigate the ways in which disability studies, technology and history interrelate, largely through researching and designing virtual exhibits.

 

 

 

On the Road: A New Travelling Banner Exhibit!

We’ve been busy over the last few months. With the help of ChapterOne Studios, we’ve reformatted the panel version of the Envisioning Technologies into a set of three lightweight and highly portable banners intended to go across Ontario and further afield. Its first location was the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University, which made it there just in time for Congress thanks to the support of the Director of the School, Kathryn Church.

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Above is a photograph of the newly developed banners at their new location for the next few months – the Harry Foster Boardroom of Disability Studies at Ryerson. If you’re in Toronto, feel free to stop by!

Places We’ve Been: Life Sciences Day

On May 5th, in the interim between more permanent locations, we displayed the physical version of Envisioning Technologies during Life Sciences Day. This was its first year, but we hope it will be an ever more popular and annual event. Life Sciences Day was intended to draw together a host of different scholars from across faculties and disciplines and we were happy to be part of it!

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The image above pictures Dominique Marshall, Beth A. Robertson, Adrian D.C. Chan and Sandy Barron sitting in front of three of the panels (the other three were around the corner), beside our touchable display of objects, including a talking book machine, a Perkins braillewriter, a stylus and selection of slates.

Envisioning Moves to MacOdrum Library

Yesterday, we began the move of the physical exhibit, Envisioning Technologies, from the Department of History to MacOdrum Library’s main lobby at Carleton University. As before, the exhibit panels are accessible via QR codes and braille transcriptions. Artifacts currently displayed as part of the exhibit include objects from the Canadian Science and Technology Museum (CSTM), the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), and the New Sun Joy Maclaren Adaptive Technology Centre of MacOdrum. Stay tuned for in the coming weeks, 3D prints of three objects from the CSTM will be made available for a touchable display to complete the exhibit. The exhibit will remain at the library until February 13th, and again after a short interim, from March 6th-April 30th. Below are some images from the install that show the panels and object display, as well as one more that shows Erin Secord from CSTM making 3D scans of the objects that will be printed over the next week.

Envisioning Technologies – some photographs from the October launch!

Some photos from the exhibit launch in October. What a great day!

The photograph to the left shows (from left to right) Adrian Chan, Roy Hanes, Dorothy J. Smith, Chris Stark (with Henry his guide dog), Beth A. Robertson and Dominique Marshall in front of the panel dedicated to the first talking ATM. The top photograph to the right shows (from left to right) Chan, Smith, Marshall, Robertson in front of the same panel, while the bottom photograph shows a section of the touchable display (with tape recorder and Perkins braillewriter) in front of the glass case display of objects from the CSTMC.

Envisioning Technologies Exhibit: October 14-December 15th

The exhibit Envisioning Technologies launched today (October 14th) at the Department of History of Carleton University (4th floor, Paterson Hall), following the second public Shannon Lecture, given by Dr. Melanie Panitch of Ryerson University. It will continue until December 15th – giving you lots of time still to please come and visit. It is the latest creation of Carleton University’s Disability Research Group and includes six panels, equipped with QR codes that can be scanned to access the text, as well as the virtual version of the exhibit. In the main office (400 Patterson), during working hours between 9-12am and 1-4:30pm, interested people can read the braille text of all exhibit panels (courtesy of Richard Marsolais), as well as engage with a touchable display of objects from the CNIB and the New Sun Joy MacLaren Adaptive Technology  Centre of MacOdrum Library. A glass-case display of objects from the Canadian Science and Technology Museum will also be present.  If you require additional guidance to the exhibit or have any questions, please let us know by emailing Dominique.Marshall@carleton.ca. This exhibit is also intended to travel. If you have any ideas of potential future locations, please be sure to let us know.

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The above image is a brief preview of the exhibit itself, including images of a user at the world’s first talking ATM in 1997, a red braillewriter hand-made by Roland Galarneau, a Quebec engineer who was blind, as well as CNIB teacher Elizabeth Rusk with Edna Sharpe in 1934. The introductory text reads, “Envisioning Technologies: An Exhibit on the History of Disability and Technology: Through stories of activism, ingenuity and engineering innovation, the exhibit considers how people who were blind or partially sighted reshaped broader discourses of disability, technology and access in Canada from 1860 to the present.” To access the rest of the exhibit text on this panel and others, read our recent posts, beginning with this. 

Envisioning Technologies: Exhibit Launch October 14th

The exhibit Envisioning Technologies will launch at 4pm on Friday, October 14th at the Department of History of Carleton University (4th floor, Paterson Hall). It will follow the second public Shannon Lecture, given by Dr. Melanie Panitch of Ryerson University (to be held in MacOdrum Library). The exhibit is the latest creation of Carleton University’s Disability Research Group. It will include six panels, equipped with QR codes that can be scanned to access the text, as well as the virtual version of the exhibit. In the main office (400 Patterson), interested people can read the braille text of all exhibit panels (courtesy of Richard Marsolais), as well as engage with a touchable display of objects from the CNIB and the New Sun Joy MacLaren Adaptive Technology  Centre of MacOdrum Library. A glass-case display of objects from the Canadian Science and Technology Museum will also be present.  If you require additional guidance to the exhibit or have any questions, please let us know by emailing Dominique.Marshall@carleton.ca. This exhibit is also intended to travel. If you have any ideas of potential future locations, please be sure to let us know.

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-12-32-02-amThe above image is a brief preview of the exhibit itself, including images of a user at the world’s first talking ATM in 1997, a red braillewriter hand-made by Roland Galarneau, a Quebec engineer who was blind, as well as CNIB teacher Elizabeth Rusk with Edna Sharpe in 1934. The introductory text reads, “Envisioning Technologies: An Exhibit on the History of Disability and Technology: Through stories of activism, ingenuity and engineering innovation, the exhibit considers how people who were blind or partially sighted reshaped broader discourses of disability, technology and access in Canada from 1860 to the present.” To access the rest of the exhibit text on this panel and others, read our recent posts, beginning with this.

Envisioning Technologies: Panel 6 Accessible Text

Title

The Talking ATM: Innovation, Access and Human Rights Activism, 1984-2016

Main text

The first accessible or “talking” ATM in the world was installed October 22, 1997 at a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch in Ottawa, Ontario. This was a typical machine that was retrofitted with an audio interface designed by an Ottawa company called T-Base Communications. Entrepreneur and blind-consumer activist Sharlyn Ayotte founded T-Base and worked alongside the RBC, as well as users, to ensure the design was practical. A more transparent and accessible financial sector in Canada, of which the talking ATM was just one part, was the result of over a decade of activism by people like Chris Stark and Marie Laporte-Stark. Now the talking ATM and the move toward accessible banking is recognized as a milestone in human rights in Canada.

Image description: Image of a user with his guide dog operating the first RBC “talking” ATM in 1997, embedded within the text. On the other side are images of Sharlyn Ayotte holding a red kerchief that reads “#iamyourcustomer, One Voice, More Choice”, as well as Chris and Marie Stark with their guide dogs, situated underneath an image of a contemporary accessible ATM, located at the Royal Bank of Canada branch at the corner Bank and Queen where the first talking ATM was initially installed.