[Multimodality Talks series] Advocating for inclusivity of people with disabilities through visual communication

Date:  17 February 2023

Time: 12.00 -1.30 pm GMT

Place: online via Zoom

Speaker: Dr. Pei Soo Ang, Universiti Malaya, Malaysia

To attend the talk please register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pei-soo-ang-multimodality-talk-series-tickets-476420054207

To watch the recorded talk, please see here: https://universityofleeds.zoom.us/rec/share/nC_W8EVHS5p0Szy1FvLbHFyG2gM_DJoAARUvTMBSA42NqQaFhGLqtzgWxKBdY4hu.JYyOE1RDPClLc-9H


Vulnerable population groups such as people with disabilities are far more susceptible to sensationalist media reporting. People with disabilities are marked by a sign system which indicates the body as different and deviant, lacking in attributes and capacities to evoke pity and sympathy. Generally, visualization of disability is criticized as a power rhetoric to elicit responses and persuade viewers to behave in a certain way. It can perpetuate stigmatization as it permits staring at a deviant body, a form of participation by a viewer in a person’s moment of vulnerability.

In this seminar, I will start by sharing the common strategies adopted in representing different impairment types. I will then draw on the Visual Discourses of Disability (ViDD) framework to demonstrate the potential social interpretations orchestrated by the combination of available affordances. When capturing, selecting and publishing images of disability, we should deliberate on different visual elements which evoke empowerment, advocacy, handicapping and othering implications as outlined in the ViDD framework.

The understanding of disability also needs to be situated in the local context and this includes validations from the various stakeholders. There are distinctions between theoretical understanding of signs and how the stakeholders want them to be differently interpreted. Based on these, I will also share some examples of how the current work has been turned into opinion pieces for public education as well as a visual guideline for dementia which could be adopted by the relevant organizations. In sum, the ViDD framework can offer ways of understanding and (re)interpreting signs of disability, and also how we as a society can bring forth a more empowering and inclusive discourse.


Pei Soo Ang is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Languages & Linguistics, Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Her areas of research interest include disability and health discourses, critical disability studies, critical discourse studies, social semiotics and multimodality. Her current research work centers on characterizing disability and health discourses as represented in the Malaysian media, employing a critical semiotic theoretical approach and a multi-perspectival methodology.


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