Rachel Petrak, Health Behavior and Health Education
Alex Bedoya-Skoog, Combined Program Education and Psychology
Meagan Drewyor, Sociology
Elliot Jankelovitz, Sociology
Advisor: Cathleen Connell, Health Behavior and Health Education
Our project is a collaborative effort to improve the social climate on campus for students with disabilities. Currently, the more than 1100 students with disabilities at UM have no way to connect with each other to share resources, experiences, and social support.
To meet this need, Ability Spaces brought together a team of social and computer scientists to explore the role of digital safe spaces for students with disabilities. An on-going program, Allies for Ability, is working to create ability-friendly physical safe spaces by raising awareness about the experiences of people with disabilities and increasing visibility of allies. Ability Spaces is collaborating with this program to develop digital safe space to facilitate advocacy, accessibility and expressiveness among students with disabilities on campus. The main features of the tool are the Expression Playground, which will enable users to interact artistically with other users with a mutual interest; the Accessapedia, a tool that will enable easy assessment of the disability accessibility of campus locations; and Ability Talks, a polling tool for examining community attitudes toward important disability issues.
Ability Spaces tools, in collaboration with Allies for Ability, will facilitate a more ability-friendly social climate at UM. The next stages of this project include community outreach to increase awareness about the availability of the tools among current and incoming students and collaboration with other student groups to diversify uses for these tools.
Read full proposal (.pdf)