Recommended Reading: Parenting with a Disability

October 16, 2023

Two recent publications address unnecessary challenges faced by parents with disabilities and how those challenges are made extraordinary by a legal system that is not protecting parents or their children.

Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children

The National Council on Disability report finds that roughly 4 million parents in the U.S. who are disabled (about 6% of parents) are the only distinct community that must struggle to retain custody of their children. 

While we have moved (somewhat) beyond the blatant eugenics of the 20th century, some of those tactics persist. Further, “parents with disabilities are the only distinct community of Americans who must struggle to retain custody of their children.” This is also connected to other intersectional factors. For example, “Because children from African American and Native American families are more likely to be poor, they are more likely to be exposed to mandated reporters as they turn to the public social service system for support in times of need…”

Research has shown that exposure bias is evident at each decision point in the child welfare system.

Under the Watchful Eye of All: Disabled Parents and the Family Policing System’s Web of Surveillance

Author Robyn Powel details how the child welfare system employs extensive surveillance that disproportionately targets marginalized families. Yet centers for independent living and other existing programs have the potential to support these parents. Instead, “The child welfare system, more accurately referred to as the family policing system, employs extensive surveillance that disproportionately targets marginalized families, subjecting them to relentless oversight.”

One particular story in that article highlights the role of technology in this ‘policing’: “…just as the Hackneys were preparing to bring [their 8 month old] home, the Allegheny County DHS [alleged] negligence due to [the parents’] disabilities… More than a year later, their toddler remains in the foster care system, an excruciating separation for the Hackneys. The couple is left questioning whether DHS’ use of a predictive artificial intelligence (“AI”) tool unfairly targeted them based on their disabilities.”

As technologists, we wonder whether this AI tool was tested for racial or disability bias. It is essential that the technologies we create are equitable before they are deployed. 

Research at the Intersection of Race, Disability and Accessibility

October 13, 2023

What are the opportunities for research to engage the intersection of race and disability?

What is the value of considering how constructs of race and disability work alongside each other within accessibility research studies?

Two CREATE Ph.D. students have explored these questions and found little focus on this intersection within accessibility research. In their paper, Working at the Intersection of Race, Disability and Accessibility (PDF), they observe that we’re missing out on the full nuance of marginalized and “otherized” groups. 

The Allen School Ph.D. students, Aashaka Desai and Aaleyah Lewis, and collaborators will present their findings at the ASSETS 2023 conference on Tuesday, October 24.

Spurred by the conversation at the Race, Disability & Technology research seminar earlier in the year, members of the team realized they lacked a framework for thinking about work at this intersection. In response, they assembled a larger team to conduct an analysis of existing work and research with accessibility research.

The resulting paper presents a review of considerations for engaging with race and disability in the research and education process. It offers analyses of exemplary papers, highlights opportunities for intersectional engagement, and presents a framework to explore race and disability research. Case studies exemplify engagement at this intersection throughout the course of research, in designs of socio-technical systems, and in education. 

   Case studies

  • Representation in image descriptions: How to describe appearance, factoring preferences for self-descriptions of identity, concerns around misrepresentation by others, interest in knowing others’ appearance, and guidance for AI-generated image descriptions.
  • Experiences of immigrants with disabilities: Cultural barriers that include cultural disconnects and levels of stigma about disability between refugees and host countries compound language barriers.
  • Designing for intersectional, interdependent accessibility: How access practices as well as cultural and racial practices influence every stage of research design, method, and dissemination, in the context of work with communities of translators.

Composite image of the six authors of a variety of backgrounds: Christina Harringon, Aashaka Desai, Aaleyah Lewis, Sanika Moharana, Anned Spencer Ross, and Jennifer Mankoff
Authors, left to right: Christina Harringon, Aashaka Desai, Aaleyah Lewis, Sanika Moharana, Anne Spencer Ross, and Jennifer Mankoff


Virtual Traffic Stop App Aims to Ease Tensions, Aid Communication

October 2, 2023

The designers of the Virtual Traffic Stop app aim to ease tensions and prevent misunderstandings between drivers and law enforcement during traffic stops. For Hard-of-Hearing or Deaf drivers, the app can be used to communicate with law enforcement via chat during the video. Users can add family members and invite them to the chat for additional assistance.

A Gainesville Florida K-12 school has announced their endorsement of Virtual Traffic Stop and has encouraged parents and their children to sign up and start using the app. Currently, the app is being used by the University of Florida and Gainesville Florida police departments.

If your community is interested in using the app, contact Dr. Juan E. Gilbert, a former CREATE Advisory Board member and Chair of the Human-Centered Computing Department at the University of Florida, by calling 352-392-1527 or emailing