An Institutional Perspective: How Gatekeepers on a Higher Education Interact for the Organization of Access
There is growing research on how collaborative systems could support equity in shaping access for marginalized communities in different contexts. Higher education institutions are essential contexts for examining issues around equity-based organization of access for diverse populations, including people with disabilities. However, there is a shortage of research in CSCW investigating equal access in higher education settings. To address this gap, in this case study, we aim to have a closer look at how gatekeepers (people who are responsible for accessibility) in a higher education institution organize access for members with disabilities. Gatekeeping has long been discussed in disability justice to examine systemic and institutional barriers for people with disabilities. We reveal how gatekeepers interact and collaborate around existing institutional communication channels to collect access-related requests and distribute access in the higher education setting. Our data shows that existing practices come with institutional challenges hindering equity and inclusion for members with disabilities. Key issues revealed through our findings are (1) communication tools and non-shared definitions around access, (2) lack of tools for experience documentation, (3) ineffective feedback loops around access requests, (4) impact-based prioritization for access requests. We discuss how our analysis contributes to equity-oriented system design for future collaboration around organizing higher education access at the institutional level.