Project Type: Research

Themes: Assistive Technology

Disability design and innovation in low resource settings. Workshop at CHI2021

Location: Virtual workshop

More research that focus on understanding how technology is and could be used to empower people with disabilities who live in the Global South is sorely needed, but conducting and planning studies in the field is often challenging.

Our workshop will focus on identifying challenges, strategies and resources to support scholars who are interested in conducting studies with people with disabilities in the Global South. We aim to create a community of researchers and practicioners working or interested to work in the areas of technology, disability and international development.

Image of wheelchair user in Kenya

Approximately 15% of the world’s population has a disability and 80% live in low resource-settings, often in situations of severe social isolation. Technology is often inaccessible or inappropriately designed, hence unable to fully respond to the needs of people with disabilities living in low resource settings. Also lack of awareness of technology contributes to limited access. This workshop will be a call to arms for researchers in HCI to engage with people with disabilities in low resourced settings to understand their needs and design technology that is both accessible and culturally appropriate. The aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers working across the fields of HCI4D, ICT4D and accessibility research in order to begin formulating a cohesive vision of methodological approaches and relevant resources to support researchers who aim to make accessibility part of the global agenda in both high and low income countries.

This CHI2021 workshop will be organized and delivered online, featuring both synchronous and asynchronous components to enable participants to interact with each other in various ways. Furthermore, as the main aim of the workshop is to create a joint space for a new community of researchers working across areas of HCI4D and Disability, we believe that this solution will enable better engagement between participants beyond the length of the virtual workshop.

Submitting contributions and important dates:

We invite contributions from researchers and practitioners that either

  • Describe experiences with strategies to overcome the challenges of performing HCI research in low resource settings with people with disabilities.
  • Discuss challenges associated with the design and development of new HCI research studies involving people with disabilities living in low resourced settings
  • Reflect on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic in the engagement of people with disabilities in HCI4D research

Submissions can be made in the traditional format of a 4-page paper, but we also welcome submissions in alternative formats, such as photo-journals or videos. For any question about the workshop or contributions please contact Dr Giulia Barbareschi ( Contributions should be submitted by February 28th 2021. Submissions should be made via email to with the subject line “Disability design and innovation in low resource settings submission”. Contributions will be peer-reviewed by the organizers based on relevance to the workshop theme and authors will receive a notification on the outcome of their submission by the 19th of March 2021.

Workshop Organizers:

Giulia Barbareschi is a Research Fellow in Disability and Assistive Technology at the UCL Interaction Centre and the Global Disability Innovation Hub. Giulia's work lies at the intersection of technology, disability and design with strong influences from disability studies and international development.

Dafne Zuleima Morgado Ramirez is Senior Research Associate at the UCL Interaction Centre and the Global Disability Innovation Hub. Zuleima is passionate about multidisciplinary research that aims to achieve technology that is affordable, appropriate, accessible and inclusive.

Cathy Holloway is Professor of Interaction Design and Innovation at UCL’s Interaction Centre and the Academic Director and co-founder of the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub). GDI Hub exists to accelerate disability innovation for a fairer world and Cathy’s research revolves around supporting this aim.

Manohar Swaminathan (Swami Manohar) is a Principal researcher at Microsoft Research India, where he is part of the Technologies for Emerging Markets group. Manohar is an academic-turned technology entrepreneur-turned researcher with a driving passion to build and deploy technology for positive social impact.

Aditya Vashistha is an Assistant Professor of Computing and Information Science at Cornell University and a faculty fellow at Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. His research focuses on the design and evaluation of technologies that contribute to the socioeconomic development of underserved communities in low-resource environments.

Ed Cutrell is a Senior Principal Research Manager at Microsoft Research where he manages the MSR Ability group, exploring computing for disability, accessibility, and inclusive design. Over the years, he has worked on a broad range of HCI topics, including input tech, visual perception and graphics, intelligent notifications and disruptions, and interfaces for search and personal information management.