A Systematic Review of Ability-diverse Collaboration through Ability-based Lens in HCI

Catherine Holloway, Tigmanshu Bhatnagar, Maryam Bandukda, Lan Xiao, Katrin Angerbauer, Weiyue Lin, Michael Sedlmair
May 11, 2024
Academic Research Publications


In a world where diversity is increasingly recognised and celebrated, it is important for HCI to embrace the evolving methods and theories for technologies to reflect the diversity of its users and be ability-centric. Interdependence Theory, an example of this evolution, highlights the interpersonal relationships between humans and technologies and how technologies should be designed to meet shared goals and outcomes for people, regardless of their abilities. This necessitates a contemporary understanding of "ability-diverse collaboration," which motivated this review. In this review, we offer an analysis of 117 papers sourced from the ACM Digital Library spanning the last two decades. We contribute (1) a unified taxonomy and the Ability-Diverse Collaboration Framework, (2) a reflective discussion and mapping of the current design space, and (3) future research opportunities and challenges. Finally, we have released our data and analysis tool to encourage the HCI research community to contribute to this ongoing effort.


Over the past few decades, accessibility research within Human-computer Interaction (HCI) has experienced substantial growth [81], reflecting an evolving understanding of inclusion and its importance in technology use and design. While HCI and accessibility research have previously sought to foster the independence of people with disabilities by helping overcome barriers presented by physical, sensory, or cognitive challenges, a growing body of research is now exploring the relationship (or interdependence) between people with different abilities and the role of technology in facilitating this interdependence [1578]. Bennet et al. [15] proposed ’interdependence’ as a frame to enhance inclusion within assistive technology research. The Interdependence framing, adapted from disability studies, argues for the design of technologies to support better collaboration among technology users regardless of their abilities. Since its publication, the framework and underlying concepts have been widely applied to investigate ways to support inclusive interactions between people with different abilities. For instance, research conducted by Vincenzi et al. [134] delves into the design of AI-enabled assistive technologies to bolster the collaborative navigation dynamics shared between individuals with visual impairments and their sighted guides. Similarly, the PLACES framework proposed by Bandukda et al. [8] offers a comprehensive view of the interdependence between blind and low-vision (BLV) people, sighted companions, and people with diverse abilities in outdoor leisure settings. Building on the concept of interdependence, This research highlighted the interplay between ‘interdependence’ and ‘independence’, evidenced by the need to engage with and contribute to the social experience while negotiating the infrastructural barriers to access open space leisure activities. The popularity of the interdependence framework has also led to a plurality of interpretations. From ’carework’ [16], ’access intimacy’ [89] in disability studies to ’cross-ability collaboration’ [15], ’asymmetric collaboration’ [48], ’mixed-ability collaboration’ [79] in HCI studies, this divergence in perspectives and expanding number of methods has led to disparate terminologies. The motivation for this paper came initially from a first exploration into this domain by the first author, weaving together a fragmented understanding of this new and emerging domain in HCI research.
To inform future discourse and create a unified understanding of the interdependence within HCI research, we performed a systematic review of HCI literature to provide a synthesised view of the field. Our analysis of 117 papers covered dimensions in collaboration, contexts, technologies, and evaluations, resulting in a unified taxonomy and an overview of the current state of the art. Furthermore, we delve into the open challenges and issues within the domain and suggest implications for designing technologies for diverse-ability collaborations.
We intend this work to be a cornerstone of accessibility and HCI research, providing a well-defined starting point. At the same time, we aim to offer a common platform for established researchers to engage in meaningful discussions and reflections on interdependence between people with diverse abilities.
In summary, this paper makes the following contributions:
(1)a unified taxonomy and a framework for ability-diverse collaboration research,
(2)a reflective discussion and mapping of the current design space (across contexts, collaboration methodologies, technology spectrum, and evaluation strategies), and
(3)the identification of future research opportunities and challenges in ability-diverse collaboration.
We invite the research community to contribute to this ongoing effort and welcome extensions of the taxonomy of ability-diverse collaborations by adapting our open-source data and analysis tool available on our live database.