The Accessibility and Usability Lab research team was created to broaden our scope beyond testing against the objective standards of WCAG to include the subjective experiences of low vision and blind students at the CU Boulder campus.  Our experience with in-depth testing using native adaptive technology users, made it clear that meeting objective standards is only one important step in creating accessible technology.  Each student arrives at CU with a different socioeconomic background, unique academic interests, and varying degrees of adaptive technology proficiency. The research team was formed, in part, to understand how user experiences align with accessible technology.

The AUL research team is currently engaged in ethnographic research that seeks to understand the holistic experiences of low vision and blind students at CU Boulder.  Our goal is to inform the university policies on diversity and inclusion with scientific data.  The research is motivated by anthropological theory and methods, which have been used with efficacy in settings as diverse as the Amazon rain forest to the streets of San Francisco, from working with the Inuit of the Arctic to the clinics and hospitals in the United States.  The research team is led by Kevin Darcy, who is a PhD student in the department of anthropology, and has experience conducting ethnographic research in diverse settings.  Amelia Dickerson and Anna Reid, co-investigators, are essential members of the research team and provide important skills from their backgrounds in psychology and social work to create an interdisciplinary team.  We are dedicated to the highest ethical standards, and this research is conducted with the approval of CU Institutional Review Board (IRB). 

This study seeks to understand the experiences of low vision and blind students across the academic, technological, and social environments.  We combine our experiences as low vision/blind students and researchers with in depth interviews with other low vision/blind students. This part of our research combines participant observation, auto ethnography, and interviews.  We are also interviewing staff and faculty that play a role in shaping these experiences.  We anticipate producing a final report by the end of the spring 2018 semester, and we intend to publish our results.  The results of this phase of the research will determine the research team’s next steps.

To learn more about the research program, please contact Kevin Darcy.