Loading Events

  • This event has passed.

Featuring Professor Elizabeth Ellcessor, Professor Meryl Alper, Ryan Budish, and Dylan Mulvin

Tuesday, May 23 at 12:00 pm
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
at Harvard University

Harvard Law School campus
Wasserstein Hall, Room 3018, third floor

RSVP required to attend in person

This event is being co-hosted by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and Harvard Law School Dean of Student’s Office, Accessibility Services.

This event will not be webcast. Video, audio, and a transcript will be available on the Berkman Klein site soon after.

Can we talk? The question (a favorite prompt of the late comedian Joan Rivers) evokes a feeling of being intimately and sometimes uncomfortably open, frank, and honest, both with others and ourselves. This event, a conversation between Prof. Elizabeth Ellcessor (Indiana University) and Prof. Meryl Alper (Northeastern University, Berkman Klein Center​), points the question at the topic of disability, technology, and inclusion in public and private, and in digital and digitally-mediated spaces. Ryan Budish (Berkman Klein Center) and Dylan Mulvin (Microsoft Research) will serve as discussants.

Can we talk?, with respect to different degrees of potential access (in its social, cultural, and political forms) that new media constrains and affords for individuals with disabilities. Can we talk?, with respect to who does and does not take part in the ongoing research, development, and critique of accessible communication technologies. Can we talk?, with respect to whether or not talking, or its corollary “voice,” is an adequate metaphor for conversation, participation, and agency?

Alper and ​Ellcessor and will draw upon their recent respective books, ​Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality (MIT Press, 2017) and ​Restricted Access: Media, Disability, and the Politics of Participation (NYU Press, 2016). Both books will be available for purchase and signing.

If you have any questions about arriving at or getting into this event, please do not hesitate to reach out to Carey Andersen at candersen@cyber.law.harvard.edu or at 617-495-7547. Wasserstein Hall, Room 3018 is fully accessible.

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth (Liz) Ellcessor is an assistant professor in the Media School at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Her research focuses on the ways that digital media technologies can both expand and limit people’s access to culture and civil society. Bringing together cultural studies, disability studies, and critical media industry studies, she uses a range of qualitative and historical methods. Focusing on those on the margins–particularly people with disabilities–exposes gaps in mainstream narratives about technological progress, user participation, and engagement with mediated culture.

Additionally, Liz has conducted research on performances of online identity, including social media celebrity, activism, and deception.

Liz teaches a range of courses, from introductory undergraduate courses in media studies to specialized doctoral seminars. Her courses aim to make the familiar strange, providing new details and perspectives with which students can reconsider taken for granted elements of their digitally mediated lives. Additionally, she uses strategies of universal design to make courses accessible for as many students as possible, incorporating captioned content, flexible assignment structures and timelines, and multiple forms of student participation.

Liz is a founding co-chair of the Media, Science, and Technology Studies scholarly interest group of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.

About Meryl

Meryl Alper is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University and a Faculty Associate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Prior to joining the faculty at Northeastern, she earned her doctoral and master’s degrees from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and History from Northwestern University, as well as a certificate in Early Childhood Education from UCLA.

Alper’s research explores the social implications of communication technologies for individuals with disabilities, children, and families. In particular, she studies the opportunities and challenges that media and technology provide young people with developmental disabilities and their families in the digital age. She integrates theoretical, empirical, and archival methods in this work and employs a historical, sociological, and critical/cultural perspective.

Alper has worked for over a decade in the children’s media industry. As an undergraduate at Northwestern, she was Lab Assistant Manager in the NSF-funded Children’s Digital Media Center/Digital-Kids Lab and interned in the Education & Research Department at Sesame Workshop in New York. Post graduation, she worked in Los Angeles as a Research Manager for Nick Jr., conducting formative research for the Emmy-nominated educational preschool television series Ni Hao, Kai-lan and The Fresh Beat Band.

Alper is the author of Digital Youth with Disabilities (MIT Press, 2014) and Giving Voice: Mobile Communication, Disability, and Inequality (MIT Press, 2017). Her research has been published in New Media & Society, International Journal of Communication, and IEEE Annals of the History ofComputing, among other journals. She has been awarded four Top Paper awards by the International Communication Association for her sole-authored work across multiple ICA divisions. Her research and popular writing has also been featured in a range of venues, including The GuardianThe AtlanticMotherboard, and Wired.

About Ryan

Ryan Budish is a Senior Researcher at the Berkman Klein Center.  Ryan joined the Berkman Klein Center in 2011 as a Fellow and the Project Director of Herdict.  In his time at Berkman Klein, Ryan has contributed policy and legal analysis to a number of projects and reports, and he has led several significant initiatives relating to Internet censorship, corporate transparency about government surveillance, and multistakeholder governance mechanisms.

About Dylan

Dylan Mulvin is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a member of the Social Media Collective. He joined the collective after completing his PhD at McGill University. Dylan is a historian of technology, media, and computing whose work investigates the design and maintenance of new technologies.  He examines how engineers, scientists, technicians, and bureaucrats make decisions about how to develop shared understandings of the world.


May 23, 2017
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm


WCC 3018 Classroom


Research Programs Events