Digital social inclusion: focus on disability

This week’s reading is concerned with ‘Digital social inclusion: focus on disability’. Digital inclusion is a topic that is fast gaining momentum within the media. As a nation, Australia is quite lacking in digital resources that cater to the disabled segment of the public.

One example that I would like to explore is Audio Description, this is a function that provides additional verbal narration for blind and vision impaired television viewers. Goggin and Newell summarises the current situation in Australia, “Change has proven frustratingly slow.” Australia, unlike many other nations such as Italy, UK, Sweden and many others, have regulations in place to ensure that visually impaired viewers can enjoy television in a similar fashion to visually proficient members of the public. Our class reached the general consensus that Australia needs to ‘get with the times’. Alex Varley writes, “Australia sits at the very bottom of the league table of world audio description and blind viewers continue to be treated as non-existent media consumers.”

Also discussed in class was media commentator Joe Hildebrandt insensitive (and stereotypical) tweet. Hildebrandt expressed his frustration on Sydney Airport employee’s incompetence. “I just want to say I think it’s great that Sydney Airport is providing so many jobs for the mentally handicapped.” Understandably, many took offense to his implied contempt of disabled people. Stella Young comments, “At best, it displays blatant ignorance of the very real barriers faced by people with disability.”

Stella Young is a well-respected disability advocate, media commentator and comedian. She is renowned for using humour to challenge the public’s general perception of people with disabilities. In this Ramp Up article, Young challenges not one, but two stereotypical insults. Her razor sharp wit serves as an excellent reminder to never blindly believe a stereotype suggested to you by the media!



Varley, A (2013). Opinion: Regulating Audio Description the Only Way.

Sear, J (2012). Elsewhere – why shouldn’t Joe Hildebrandt cruelly mock the disabled?

Young, S (2013). The Politics of Exclusion.


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