Ideation plays a vital role in driving creativity and innovation across various professional and educational contexts. In a recent study, we investigated the experiences of disabled individuals in the collaborative ideation process. Through interviews with 19 professionals and academics with disabilities, alongside a thematic analysis of online forum posts for two popular digital whiteboarding platforms (Miro and Figma), we uncovered multifaceted access barriers in ideation and whiteboarding practices, including inaccessible visual features, technology-induced discomfort, unstructured nature of freeform content, and complex communication setups. Through this analysis, we call attention to the “career cost” that disabled people must bear when inaccessible ideation tools are widely integrated within workplaces and discuss the implications of our findings for the design of accessible collaborative ideation systems.

In another project, we investigated the situated practice of collaborative making at a community weaving studio where blind weavers and their sighted instructors collaboratively produced handwoven products using physical materials such as loom, shuttle, and yarns. Through ethnographic field observations and contextual interviews, we uncovered how blind weavers engaged in coordinated embodied interaction with their sighted instructors and the materials in their workspace to learn and perform weaving steps. Building on these insights, we designed and built Melodie, an audio-enhanced loom to support blind weavers in understanding the loom state through auditory feedback; and Simphony, an audio-tactile system to enhance their participation in the pattern generation process. Through design exploration sessions at the lab and the community weaving studio, we investigated how digital technologies might augment blind weavers’ embodied understanding of the weaving process.

Two people are sitting against a table. One exploring a cloth. On the table are a tablet with the Simphony app open and wooden grid and blocks. Background shows a loom.

Relevant Publications

Maitraye Das, Abigale Stangl, and Leah Findlater. 2024. “That comes with a huge career cost”: Understanding Collaborative Ideation Experiences of Disabled Professionals. In Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, (CSCW ’24).

Maitraye Das, Darren Gergle, and Anne Marie Piper. 2023. Simphony: Enhancing Accessible Pattern Design Practices among Blind Weavers. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’23).

Katya Borgos-Rodriguez, Maitraye Das, and Anne Marie Piper. 2021. Melodie: A Design Inquiry into Accessible Crafting through Audio-Enhanced Weaving. In ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing (TACCESS), Vol. 14, 1, Article 5 (March 2021), 30 pages. [ACM DL link]

Maitraye Das, Katya Borgos-Rodriguez, and Anne Marie Piper. 2020. Weaving by Touch: A Case Analysis of Accessible Making. In Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’20), April 2020. [ACM DL link] [Video]
*Best Paper Honorable Mention Award