Mapping Access methodology
Mapping Access adopts a critical and participatory approach to crowdsourcing. In the digital humanities, planning professions, and user-experience design, crowdsourcing is often taken as an efficient way to gather large amounts of data. Mapping Access asks additional questions:
How do typical modes and structures of data collection condition who participates and who is left out?
How can we understand participants as critical thinkers, and not only as those who record objective truths about the world?
How can distinguishing between types of expertise in crowdsourcing enable us to work toward social justice?
Mapping Access adopts the Disability Justice principle of "leadership of those most impacted." In addition to members of our lab, who identify as access users, we also engage directly with potential users of accessibility features to define meaningful access. This often means going beyond the minimal standards required by law.
Community conversations serve as opportunities to debrief following accessibility surveys, raise critical questions, and build coalitions around shared opportunities for access.
[Image: a gold and black poster advertising an Accessibility Map-a-Thon at Vanderbilt University, April 8, 2016. The caption says "help make Vanderbilt a more inclusive campus for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors."]
Mapping Access uses "Map-a-Thon" events to develop a participatory culture around accessibility. Studying and enacting accessibility can be forms of direct action in the built environment.