Trauma is the physical, emotional, or psychological harm caused by deeply distressing experiences. Research with communities that may experience high rates of trauma has shown that digital technologies can create or exacerbate traumatic experiences. Via three vignettes, we discuss how considering the possible effects of trauma and traumatic stress reactions provides an explanatory lens with new insights into people’s technology experiences. Then, we present a framework—trauma-informed computing—in which we adapt and show how to apply six key principles of trauma-informed approaches to computing: safety, trust, peer support, collaboration, enablement, and intersectionality. Through specific examples, we describe how to apply trauma-informed computing in four areas of computing research and practice: user experience research & design, security & privacy, artificial intelligence & machine learning, and organizational culture in tech companies. We conclude by discussing how adopting trauma-informed computing will lead to benefits for all users, not only those experiencing trauma.
Recent work in HCI has shed light on structural issues of inequality in computing. Building on this work, this study analyzes the relatively understudied phenomenon of caste in computing. Contrary to common rhetorics of ‘castelessness,’ we show how computing worlds in India and Indian diasporic communities continue to be shaped and inflected by caste relations. We study how, when and where Dalits (formerly ‘untouchables’) encounter caste in computing. We show how they artfully navigate these caste inscriptions by interpreting, interrupting and ambiguating caste and by finding caste communities. Drawing on the life stories of 16 Dalit engineers and anti-caste, queer-feminist and critical race theories, we argue that a dynamic and performative approach to caste, and other forms of inequality in HCI and computing, emphasizes the artfulness and agency of those at the margins as they challenge structural inequality in everyday life. Lastly, we suggest practical ways of addressing caste to build more open and inclusive cultures of global computing.
Maker culture encourages do-it-yourself practices to create, repair, and repurpose technology. In Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research, it is seen as a means of empowering people, providing affordable and customisable technology with potential to enrich areas such as education or assistive technology. To investigate this alleged potential, we performed an anthropological inquiry at an elementary school for disabled children that lasted one year, participating in everyday activities with students, teachers, and therapists. We observed ‘heterogeneity in a fluid environment’ and ‘creativity in the moment’ in an ‘endemically underfunded’ setting. We saw how technology is ‘injecting dependencies’, ‘reinforcing disability’, and ‘occupying time and space’, changing our view on the role that making can have. Leveraging Empowerment Theory, we highlight how (making) technology risks ignoring the intertwined dynamics between the individual, the organisational, and the community, and articulate points for reflection for technology in schools for disabled children for the HCI research community.
Technology research for neurodivergent conditions is largely shaped by research aims which privilege neuro-normative outcomes. As such, there is an epistemic imbalance in meaning making about these technologies. We conducted a critical literature review of technologies designed for people with ADHD, focusing on how ADHD is framed, the research aims and approaches, the role of people with ADHD within the research process, and the types of systems being developed within Computing and HCI. Our analysis and review is conducted explicitly from an insider perspective, bringing our perspectives as neurodivergent researchers to the topic of technologies in the context of ADHD. We found that 1) technologies are largely used to `mitigate' the experiences of ADHD which are perceived as disruptive to neurotypical standards of behaviour; 2) little HCI research in the area invites this population to co-construct the technologies or to leverage neurodivergent experiences in the construction of research aims; and 3) participant resistance to deficit frames can be read within the researchers' own accounts of participant actions. We discuss the implications of this status quo for disabled people and technology researchers alike, and close with a set of recommendations for future work in this area.
The field of digital mental health is making strides in the application of technology to broaden access to care. We critically examine how these technology-mediated forms of care might amplify historical injustices, and erase minoritized experiences and expressions of mental distress and illness. We draw on decolonial thought and critiques of identity-based algorithmic bias to analyze the underlying power relations impacting digital mental health technologies today, and envision new pathways towards a decolonial digital mental health. We argue that a decolonial digital mental health is one that centers lived experience over rigid classification, is conscious of structural factors that influence mental wellbeing, and is fundamentally designed to deter the creation of power differentials that prevent people from having agency over their care. Stemming from this vision, we make recommendations for how researchers and designers can support more equitable futures for people experiencing mental distress and illness.