Myhill, W., Cogburn, D.L. Samant, D., Addom, B. Blanck, P. (2008). “Accessible Cyberinfrastructure-enabled Knowledge Communities in the National Disability Community: Theory, Practice and Policy” Assistive Technology, Vol. 20., No. 3, pp. 157-174.
Since publication of the Atkins Commission report in 2003, the national scientific community has placed significant emphasis on developing cyberinfrastruc- ture-enabled knowledge communities, which are de- signed to facilitate enhanced efficiency and collabo- ration in geographically distributed networks of re- searchers. This article suggests that the new cyberin- frastructure .movement may not fully benefit those participants with disabilities, unless closer attention is paid to legal mandates and universal design principles. Many technology-enhanced learning communities pro- vide geographically distributed collaboration oppor- tunities that expand the inclusion of diverse peoples and help close the digital divide. However, to date, most collaboratory efforts have not emphasized the need for access among people with disabilities nor meeting minimum standards for technological acces- sibility. To address these concerns, this article reports on two pilot collaboratory studies that explore the role advanced information, communication, and collabo- ration technologies play in enhancing geographically distributed collaboration among specific research and applied networks within the national disability com- munity. Universal design principles inform the design of the collaboratory and its use and our efforts to ensure access for all. Data for this article come from Web-based surveys, interviews, observations, comput- er logs, and detailed, mixed-methods accessibility test- ing. Emerging results suggest that with deliberate and systematic efforts, cyberinfrastructure can be more ac- cessible and generate benefits among persons with dis- abilities. The authors provide lessons learned and rec- ommendations for future research, policy, law, and practice.