Race, Disability & Technology

CREATE is leading a cross-campus initiative to increase awareness of, and research in, the intersection of race, disability and technology.

In collaboration with six campus partners, CREATE is developing a cross-campus initiative at the intersection of race, disability and technology. The initiative hosted a Winter Quarter 2023 panel discussion at this intersection to encourage new collaborations, and has put out a call for proposals.

Our campus partners in this initiative:

Recent lectures and books have interrogated topics such as the intersection of Race and Technology; and Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory. However, there is a need for more research that brings these topics together, particularly projects that deeply engage with this intersection, exploring how race and disability together impact the experiences, outcomes, technology needs, and opportunities available to people of color with disabilities.

Research topics

In Fall 2020, CREATE hosted a seminar on the topic of Race, Disability and Technology and in Spring 2022, CREATE hosted a panel on the topic during CREATE’s Community Day and Research Showcase.  Some examples topics came out of those events are listed below:

Biased institutions

People with disabilities are over-represented in police encounters and in the prison system, and technology plays a role in this. From biased algorithms to surveillance technologies used to track people before they are even convicted, there are racial and disability based disparities in the criminal justice system. How do these systems interact? What novel systems and technologies can improve this?

Relevant Readings:


Disability, combined with race, plays a troubling role in many aspects of the school experience. From the “school to prison pipeline” to impacts on higher education access, this intersection is critical to study. How can educational technologies, and technology education, both broaden their remit to address these issues and their intersection?

Relevant Readings:

AI & fairness

How do ableism and race interact to impact AI ableism and biases? In what contexts is AI applied where these concerns intersect? How can innovations in algorithms and data address this? For example, speech recognition and speech based device control can be problematic from both a race and a disability perspective, failing to recognize accents of all sorts, as well as dialects. 

Relevant readings:


How do both race and disability combine to impact ML based healthcare? How can we change health technologies and experiences to address this? Digital disparities as well as access are both important to consider here. Further, recent changes in access to services such as abortion combine with disability and race to put these intersecting populations at high risk.
Relevant Readings:


How does racial bias and ableism impact algorithms used by the government for homeless service provision, policing, healthcare service provision and health equity, and more? How does this affect disabled people in liminal spaces, such as the use of surveillance on migrants and asylum seekers? How does the risk of disclosing disability impact immigration status among people of color, for example? What new algorithms and technologies can address this?

Relevant Reading: Financial Inequality: Disability, Race and Poverty in America

Online access, ableism and racism

Online life is becoming an increasingly important aspect of everyday experience. Yet both ableism and racism are an ongoing challenge in these spaces. How do they intersect? From image and video descriptions to avatar representations to hate speech, what does it mean to reconsider this experience in ways that question who is included?

Relevant Readings:

Read about the CREATE Race, Disability & Technology Call for Proposals