Scholarship to Attend the  Society for Disability Studies Conference

Online, 4/9-4/12, 2022


Revised Call: With apologies for any confusion, this call has been revised to only support attendance at the Society for Disability Studies Conference. There will be no panel. We have shortened the required submission to 1 paragraph to reflect this change.

SESSION TITLE:  Disability and Human Computer Interaction Sightlines

Computer Science and Disability Studies have the opportunity to come together but that requires that we enter each other’s spaces and share in each other’s ideas. We have organized a scholarship for SDS attendance to encourage this. We will fund student participation with a Membership in SDS and Conference Registration. 


Our computers are both tools and barriers. You can spend $3K on a laptop because the keyboard is where the wrist rest usually is and good for your short arms, only to be foiled by a cemetery of mice that impose themselves between you and the computer and work irrationally. You can add tools like screen readers only to be shut out of whatever software developers have never considered that a blind person needs to access. You can become part of a geographically distributed team only to find that you are the only team member who must download the Google Doc, convert it to Word, then upload it back up to Google Doc because you have invested the time to create a whole language of Microsoft-based autocorrect shortcuts Google doesn’t know. You used to be able to buy Dragon Dictate for thousands of dollars and teach it how you talk. Now it costs one hundred dollars, and it tries to teach you how to talk.

While these problems can be addressed by after-market solutions, the creative and brave still try to approach Universal Design knowing we will only succeed in just access with universal designs—we emphases the plural. Only a flexible plural world will ever be both healthy and just.

Computing can be a vital source of power. It provides access and defines the accessless status of disability. People within Human Computer Interaction (HCI), as an interdisciplinary field concerned with how people use computing in its broadest definitions, created both industry standard and after-market solutions present on every phone and computer, as well as those more specialized solutions called for and paid for largely by the medical rehabilitation industry. Medical and clinical professionals often act as gatekeepers who decide if insurance or poverty-level public aid should buy the tools for the deserving disabled.

It is within this context that computing scholars must engage disability studies and the concepts of disability rights and disability justice. In the last decades, access to technology is democratizing. Tools built for disability access, like voice input are mainstream, but their disability accommodation features may be lost when the intended market goes from the 5% of people with a specific disability access need to the general 95% of the public.

We absolutely must keep all this in our sightlines whether we find ourselves contextualized in disability studies or computing, whether in education or out to make our first million. We need also to have clear sightlines on proposed computer-aided technology such as biometrics. How, where, and when do we want computing power turned toward biometric data used for everything from human identification and disability recognition to the disposition of resources?

For over a decade, we have been working to connect disability studies with HCI in Computer Science spaces [Mankoff10, Hofmann20]. This work has been recognized multiple times by ACM-SIGACCESS[1]

However, while this work has successfully helped to bring a disability studies perspective into the computing community, we have not brought computer scientists to disability studies. It is our intention to change this by donating the money from the SIGACCESS impact award to SDS by paying the SDS Membership and Conference fees for 2 or more students from disability studies and fields related to computer and information sciences to present at SDS this spring in this session. We will choose the students who will gain from the opportunity, our mentorship, and who have something to teach us all.

This is an open to both disability studies and computer science students.

To apply please prepare a 250 word abstract explaining why you wish to participate and provide a 150 word biography.

Please Submit to: Devva Kasnitz, and cc Gillian R. Hayes and Jen Mankoff


[Mankoff10] Mankoff, Jennifer, Gillian R. Hayes, and Devva Kasnitz. “Disability studies as a source of critical inquiry for the field of assistive technology.” Proceedings of the 12th international ACM SIGACCESS conference on Computers and accessibility. 2010.

[Hofmann20] Hofmann, Megan, et al. “Living disability theory: Reflections on access, research, and design.” The 22nd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility. 2020.