An innovation specialist has been recognised for her work using ICT to increase social and educational participation of young people with disabilities.

Denise Wood, Professor and Director of Learning, Equity, Access and Participation at Central Queensland University, has been appointed Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Wood, who is a Senior Member of ACS, received the accolade for her “significant service to education as an academic, researcher and practitioner in the field of participation, inclusion and access.”

“It’s nice that there are people out there who thought the work I was doing deserves recognition,” Wood told Information Age.

“But for me, it’s more a reflection of the many, many people and teams I’ve worked with over those years who have made the research we’ve done, and the outcomes we’ve achieved, possible.”

Since entering back into academia in 2000, following a 20-year career in disability services, her research has focused heavily around how digital technologies can be used to enhance education and employment.

To date, Wood has received more than $6 million in funding for her research and has been project leader on four Australian Government projects focussing on technology-enhanced learning.

After the recent success of her project Digital Enterprise: Pathways to Education and Employment for Young People with Disabilities, which provided high-tech learning sessions for groups of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Wood and her team have received additional funding to continue their research, which has been reworked as the Digital Arts project.

Both projects look to develop technology skills of the participants while also improving social skills, communication skills, self-esteem and self-efficacy.

Aside from her major research projects, Wood has also authored or co-authored 120 peer-reviewed journal publications, book chapters, conference papers, government reports, and also served as Associate Editor of the Higher Education Research and Development Journal.