In 1996, CCT, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Campbell-Kibler Associates, Inc., began a research and action project about the equity issues in technology. We conducted interviews with community leaders and organizations in more than 50 places across the country, in small and large cities, in rural areas and Indian reservations, with people from a range of ethnic, language, class, and racial groups. We spoke with people with disabilities and disability rights advocates, representatives from industry, community leaders and activists, youth workers and educators, funders and policymakers. We worked closely with a number of community-based and national organizations to examine the issues related to technology access, including how technology is designed and how well-or poorly-it serves diverse communities.
Our partners included the Progressive Baptist Church in New Orleans, the Rhode Island Indian Council, El Puente in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Oyotunji African Village in South Carolina, the Accommodation Resource Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Young Scientists Club in East Harlem, New York, the Collaborative Visualization (Co-Vis) project of Northwestern University and their afterschool career program at the Kelly High School in Chicago, and the Innovation Center for Community and Youth Development of the National 4-H Council.
The work began much earlier, however, among educators and activists in a variety of settings, including the Center for Children and Technology (CCT), established in 1980 at Bank Street College of Education and now part of Education Development Center. In pursuing how the new computer technologies could best support teaching and learning, researchers at CCT became aware of inequities in access and decisions about design that favored some groups over others, noticing first the gender issues and subsequently race and disability concerns. Yet even by 1996, relatively little attention and few resources were being dedicated to these concerns.
Access by Design was an attempt to gather together educators, activists, policymakers, and industry representatives to build awareness and action for increased equity and diversity in technology.
The products from this effort include materials for community leaders and organizations, as well as a report and action agenda based on the interviews, meetings, and policy efforts conducted from 1996 through the beginning of 2000.