Home » Module 7 - "The Accessibility Gap for Tech Users and Developers" » “The Accessibility Gap for Tech Users and Developers”

“The Accessibility Gap for Tech Users and Developers”

So the delay in getting this module out to you all, is that there’s a lot in it that needs to be unpacked. In this module we’re focusing on ChemE PhD student Emily Ackerman’s experience being on the inaccessible side of electrical engineering (delivery robots).

Please watch Emily’s presentation which breaks down the initial incident and then goes deeper to explain the structural inequalities that exist for disabled individuals. Emily’s story really spans the field of engineering from civil (how do we create our accessible sidewalk ramps?) to electrical, and probably bits of all the rest woven in there. 

I want you to think about Emily’s experience and come up with some considerations for how you might take diverse human experiences into account with whichever field you’ve chosen to study in.If you can’t watch the entire video, please watch the introduction and then pick another one of the chapters to comment on. 

The additional chapters are:

  • How is technology actively inaccessible?
  • How are accessible solutions so actively inaccessible? 
  • How can people with disabilities still be so far behind?
  • Access to tech and education has always been historically limited
  • The ADA + The Result: Air Transportation
  • The present is scary therefore the future is scarier
  • Poor representation is caused by inaccessibility
  • The solution is positive feedback
  • The industry must diversify
  • The industry must slow down
  • Education must become more accessible
  • This is a temporary problem

I will offer some of my own comments in Slack because I also haven’t been able to watch this entire presentation and I want to make sure that I give it the attention it deserves.

Please comment by the end of the week. Thanks everyone!


  1. I watched Emily’s introduction, and I think that every module we are coming back to the very same and very important topic: inclusion and accessibility for everyone. I didn’t get to watch the full video, but I’d like to comment on that education must more accessible.

    I’ll start by saying that ever since CUNY went online, I was able to take on a bigger class load, progress faster, and I felt like as a working adult, supporting myself and my studies I finally was able to make a dent. Then I found out that most classes will return to in-person format starting spring 22’, which means I now again must slow down the pace I study, as I cannot afford to commute to school at random times, late nights or whenever CCNY decides to order the students in. I feel excluded. In-person only learning is great for people who are in their early 20s, but it’s a major headache for people like me who work and support a family. Emily asks the question: “What can you do in your community?”
    Since CCNY is in my local community, I’d like to share a petition for anyone who is willing to support to cause: https://www.change.org/p/cuny-president-cuny-spring-2022-should-be-online-6616903c-41d3-4da0-a136-14d0bed29bb8?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_30860273_en-US%3A4&recruiter=1228450364&recruited_by_id=12ac2520-24a8-11ec-a5c5-9ba77a40ba6e&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=psf_combo_share_initial

    I didn’t create the petition, but I support it. I’m not sure what else I can do to make my voice heard…

    She mentioned under the topic of disabled role models for children, that it’s our responsibility to educate our children how disabled people have access in society via tech, and what technology does for disabled people.
    And lastly, she calls for the importance of public education on tech. Technology changes very quickly and spending resources on public education on technological innovations and changes is necessary, in order for everyone to have equal access in our society.

  2. Module # 7
    How is technology actively inaccessible?
    Emily Ackerman’s experience of crossing the road was very horrific and concerning to hear. She could have gotten into an accident that day. Normally, most people would think that technology is easing people’s lives. Now after listening to Emily’s presentation, we can conclude that it’s not entirely true. Like our previous topics, we are continuing to see this hidden bias in technology against certain groups of people. I totally agree with Emily’s reasoning of technical inaccessibility. Recently, in New York City, I have seen Uber/ Ravel scooters lying on the sidewalks. There are no docks for those types of technology. City bikes do have docks but if the docks are full then able people leave their bikes anywhere they want because they do not want to go to the next dock which could be 2 or 3 blocks away. People occupying disable parking spots is another issue. I was surprised to know that Ed Roberts had to protest and file a lawsuit to get the side curb cuts. The exoskeleton and stair climber handicap chairs are too expensive to get. The government and tech companies should focus on the cause of moving forward with everyone into a global technical world. Technology should be accessible to everyone equally and fairly.

  3. This week’s module really brought up the issues that disabled people face on a day-to-day basis. I honestly don’t think of these issues often, not because I choose to ignore it but because I personally have not been faced with them. Emily’s story with the delivery bot being in the way of the curb ramp helps show that a lot of technology is not catered to those with disabilities. The company that made these bots claim that they had the disabled groups in mind when making these bots, but the results don’t really show that. In the video there were numerous examples of bots being in the way of wheelchair ramps, they’re just there in the middle of the ramp blocking the path for everyone. Later in the video Emily brings up how Xbox controllers for those with disabilities are almost twice as much as regular controllers. This idea brings up the fact that most “accessible” solutions are extremely inaccessible due to the financial strain they cause. All in all, having this information open to the public is the key to ridding these issues.

  4. Education must become more accessible:
    Emily put much emphasis on education in her presentation. It is very important to make education accessible to all. In most cases, our education system is more favorable to able- bodied students rather than disabled students. Many disabled people who are interested in acquiring knowledge do not have the same opportunity as the general people in gaining access to education. Emily herself is also disabled and she feels the importance of it. Her disability could not stop her from gaining knowledge and doing research on robotics which is praiseworthy. Younger generation should know about tech and how it works. Because in future they are the ones playing with it.

  5. As with most modules this class has presented, inclusion and accessibility are very crucial issues that need to be addressed not only in the scope on scientific and engineering disciplines, but education as a whole. Emily’s story in particular demonstrates just how difficult it can be for someone who is born with a disability or who is marginalized based on various other factors to participate in the education system. Oftentimes, educational facilities or even regular buildings do not accommodate for disabled people, such as lacking wheel chair ramps. This can actively discourage people who have these conditions from receiving something as simple as an education, which every human being is entitled to. It is important that these issues are brought up frequently, as change can only happen when enough people ware aware of these issues.

  6. I watched Emily’s presentation. During this presentation Emily’s focused in different kind of problems in our society those are faced disability people in their life time. In her presentation she also mentioned the industry must diversify. Every industry needs to keep their mind about disability people before they want create anything. They need to ensure that it’s for every people in our society. In that reason she also describe the ways how every industry need to thinking before crate anything.

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