[SIGCIS-Members] 2017 Computer History Museum Prize: Elizabeth Patrick, Making Computers Accessible

Andrew Russell arussell at arussell.org
Mon Nov 6 07:40:17 PST 2017

Dear colleagues - 

Last weekend at the SHOT and SIGCIS meeting in Philadelphia, the winner of the 2017 Computer History Museum Prize was announced.  I’m delighted to share that news and the prize citation with this list.  Congratulations Elizabeth Petrick!


Elizabeth Petrick, Making Computers Accessible: Disability Rights and Digital Technology  <https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/content/making-computers-accessible>(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015).

Prize Citation:

This is a groundbreaking book on an understudied topic in the history of computing. Petrick integrates histories of technology and civil rights and demonstrates the interaction of technological, social, and legal supports for accessibility. She uses disability studies frameworks to highlight how the shifting paradigms of “normality” and  “universality” have shaped computer technology. She argues convincingly that principles of “universal design” that were aimed at making computers usable for the disabled significantly shaped the evolution of personal computer technology in general—thereby making the larger historiographic point that we can’t tell complete or accurate histories of computing without including (dis)ability as a factor. The book is clearly written and well-researched, with a helpful appendix on her sources and methods.

About the Computer History Museum Prize:

The Computer History Museum Prize is awarded to the author of an outstanding book in the history of computing broadly conceived, published during the prior three years. The prize of $1,000 is awarded by SIGCIS, the Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society. SIGCIS is part of the Society for the History of Technology. 

In 2012 the prize was endowed in perpetuity through a generous bequest from the estate of Paul Baran, a legendary computer innovator and entrepreneur best known for his work to develop and promote the packet switching approach on which modern networks are built. Baran was a longtime supporter of work on the history of information technology and named the prize to celebrate the contributions of the Computer History Museum to that field.

For more information and list of previous winners, please visit: http://www.sigcis.org/node/406 <http://www.sigcis.org/node/406>

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