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This project is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Institute for Community Engaged Research, and the University of British Columbia. 


Activating Inclusion within Emerging Digital Landscapes 

The design, manufacture, and distribution of digital technologies and spaces contributes to inequalities such as uneven access and agency for users. For the one in five Canadians who identify as living with a disability, the delivery of audio and visual information contributes to limited access to digital technologies and forms of discrimination within digital spaces based on ability. In response to this reality, combined with political developments of new accessibility legislation in Canada and the global realities of COVID-19, this digital ethnographic project aims to understand how digital environments can be better designed so that users can equitably participate, build community, and share knowledge within virtual spaces. Because accessibility is one component that defines how people interact within digital spaces, it is important to gain insights into how individual disability activists, self advocates, and their allies are working together to improve digital accessibility. 

This project is a digital ethnography that explores the how individual users and governing institutions are engaging in more equitable practices to facilitate greater accessibility within digital environments. Through a community based approach, this research aims to explore the ways that individuals and institutions articulate activism and how their orientation towards disability, accessibility, and self-advocacy influences the ways that people enact activist work and social change within digital and physical environments. In order to highlight the importance of shifting the onus of accessibility from those with disabilities to collective social structures and institutions, this project will address substantial gaps in institutional practices and current research applications regarding accessibility support systems within digital environments.

Madelaine is currently enrolled as a student in Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies, Community Engagement, Social Change, and Equity theme at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. This research is supervised by Dr. Fiona P. McDonald from the Faculty of Community, Culture, and Global Studies at UBC, Okanagan. This project is in collaboration with the Collaborative and Experimental Ethnography Lab at the UBC, Okanagan. It is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Institute for Community Engaged Research, and the University of British Columbia. 

As a currently non-disabled researcher, Madelaine recognizes the unique ways that she carries the responsibility to address the intersections of discrimination, ableism, and inequality within the physical, institutional, and digital spaces she occupies across her life and work.


If you would like to collaborate or learn about this project, please email Madelaine at madelaine [dot] lekei [at] alumni [dot] ubc [dot] ca or visit her contact page by clicking this underlined text.