KEYNOTE – Women with Disabilities Navigating the Women’s Health Digital Landscape

Session Description
Within the massive digital landscape, information for people with disabilities occupies a mere speck. Within that speck, information for women with disabilities occupies only a small fraction, even though their numbers are rapidly increasing and they constitute more than half of the disabled population, especially in older age groups.

Dr. Nosek will address three aspects of this inequity. First, environmental barriers and demographic characteristics of women with disabilities as a disadvantaged and underserved population influence their ability to access and navigate digital media. Second, a review of online women’s health information reveals that the websites of nonprofit, corporate, and government organizations generally fail to address the specific health concerns of women with disabilities. Third, information that is available is highly fragmented and difficult to find.

In a call to action, Dr. Nosek offers strategies that educators, clinicians, and researchers can apply to increase the visibility of people with disabilities in the digital landscape and create clear pathways for consumers benefit from online health information.

Margaret (Peg) Nosek, PhD
Margaret (Peg) Nosek, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine and Senior Scientist at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, TX. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD).

Dr. Nosek lives with spinal muscular atrophy, a severe congenital physical disability, and has used a ventilator for the past 16 years. Growing up in northeastern Ohio, she completed two degrees in music theory and performance before immigrating to Texas for further graduate studies. The spirit of the late 1970s converted her to disability rights activism and she became a leader in the independent living movement. The President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities honored her as a “Disability Patriot.”

After joining the faculty at Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Nosek’s research focused on independence and community integration of people with disabilities. In the early 1990s, she devoted her energy to improving the health of women with physical disabilities, especially by developing interventions to address disparities in reproductive health and access to healthcare services. Most recently she is testing online virtual worlds as a medium for reaching socially and geographically isolated women.

While continuing to follow mentor Justin Dart’s advice, Dr. Nosek, as an advocate for disability rights, has successfully implemented over $20 million research grants, published over 100 academic articles and book chapters, and received prestigious awards from organizations such as the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, the Rehabilitation Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association, and the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association. She is a founding board member of the National Women with Disabilities Empowerment Forum.

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