Disability-Driven Development

I’m writing this on the evening of December 3rd, 2022 – on what is referred to as “International Day of Persons with Disabilities.” If, like me, you prefer identity-first language for such things, you may also have a renaming of this in your head – my own is “International Disabled People’s Day” – but regardless of how we phrase the notion, it seems like a useful moment in which to articulate something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

I’ve got a lot to say about who usually creates digital technology – particularly software – and how that’s a problem. But more importantly, I’ve got some thoughts about how to change that.

Part 1: Spoons and Software

Ironically, I haven’t had the spoons to fully write this all down until now. Spoon theory is a deeply important facet of how I – and many other people – exist in the world. (I’m also a Dungeons & Dragons nerd, so I am more fond of the more subtle, nuanced, and flexible framework of “spell slot theory”, but spoons are a much more widely-recognized concept.)

It’s taken me quite a long time to come to grips with my own experiences of disability. I am invisibly disabled; from the outside, I don’t “appear” to have any significant struggles. I had a very successful career of over twenty years in a high-stakes, high-demand part of the digital tech industry, and in particular, the creation of particular kinds of software. Many people who knew me during those years expressed shock and confusion when I finally began feeling confident enough to name my experiences around them – when I finally was able to start saying, out loud, that I am disabled.

Sadly, this kind of incredulous reaction is extremely common in our world. Ableism is a rampant issue, and it hurts everyone – not just the disabled; but like many other similar kinds of systemic oppression, it is only rarely acknowledged by those who are not its direct victims. Instead, most people with able-privilege remain utterly unaware of the ways in which that privilege manifests, and often this is willful ignorance.

In addition to being disabled, I am autistic. I began tinkering with computers at five years old, having been given access to a secondhand device that was being discarded by some local actuarial business or other. It was effectively a high-end programmable calculator, and I barely could read enough words from the instruction manual to do much with it, but with time and some occasional outside assistance, I learned to make it Do Things that I wanted it to do… and I fell permanently in love with programming.

I was raised in a violent, abusive, neglectful environment, and was severely socially isolated for most of my childhood. I routinely clashed with the adults around me who did not seem to understand me or care to even try. I could not convince them to respect my needs or desires.

Computers were different. I never really saw programming as “controlling” the devices I found myself tinkering with; it felt, to me, more like a relationship. If I could make friends with this digital construct, learn its languages and what it expected from me, I could be rewarded with almost limitless possibility to create. I wrote tiny games, screen savers, animated “demos”, tiny bits of synthesized music pumped out of amazingly limited beep-generation circuits, small utilities to help me organize my brain and my obligations as a growing child being assigned homework and chores.

I started programming professionally at sixteen – the youngest I could do so legally in the place I lived at the time. A local man, who had become something of a surrogate father-figure to myself and a handful of other misfit/outcast kids in high school, offered to help me set up a legal company so I could conduct business under an official letterhead, and start trying to do contract programming gigs. Building on the “legitimate-looking” brand I created with his help, I secured a couple thousand dollars of “summer jobs” writing odds and ends of code, and developed a significant degree of confidence in approaching companies and professional environments in general.

By the time I was eighteen, I had two full-time programming jobs, and had already begun wading into a steady stream of recruiters and headhunters vying for my attention. I quit one of those jobs within a couple of years, opting to focus on the kinds of things I’d always wanted to do – and spent a total of over two decades programming professionally.

Somehow, it wasn’t quite enough; even as I spent my days, getting paid to live in this refuge that had offered me purpose and agency and meaningful experiences, I ached for more. I started side projects and pursued programming in my evenings and weekends.

I relatively quickly became fascinated with programming technology in general. I’d had questions, even as a young child, about why programming languages were the way they were. Who made these things? How did a new language come into existence? Why did people prefer some languages over others? Why did so many objectively terrible languages seem incredibly popular? Why did I feel compelled to learn what I felt was limited, rudimentary, and crude technology in order to be thought of as “competent” in the professional sphere?

I’d even dabbled in creating my own programming language systems over the years, but had never really had enough practice or experience to create anything substantial. They were fun toys, but weren’t going to change anything.

Sometime around 2006 or so, I was working on a project that involved enabling non-technical members of our product team. In particular, I was asked to help create a system that would allow them to produce their work without needing to constantly involve a programmer. I took this charge very seriously – more seriously, it turned out, than the people who’d asked me to look into it – and emerged from a flurry of research and prototyping a couple of months later with a full-fledged system that let them essentially describe the results they wanted to get in a text-based format.

It was my first major foray into domain-specific language creation, and it became a fixation of mine for several years afterwards. I started finding all kinds of ways that custom-built programming languages could be used to give access to powers of “creation” that normally were reserved for “engineers” and “architects” in the software field.

I’d learned to make things that helped others create digital technology – and I was permanently hooked.

By 2008 I’d started a hobby project to build an entire programming language and ecosystem from scratch. It was a thoroughly ambitious project. There was a very long line of people who were willing to tell me, at great length, exactly why I was doomed to fail; why it was a waste of time; why I would never compete with any of the existing language technologies; and so on ad nauseum.

To my credit, I ignored them.

Over the course of the next ten years, I slowly assembled and refined my language. By the time I decided to step away from the project entirely, I’d managed to implement an entire programming language, integrate it into a popular programming tool-suite, and developed features that made it competitive with language efforts backed by millions of dollars, thousands of developers, and decades of international effort. It was enough to get me noticed – and recruited – by no less than three major tech companies, all asking me to come work on their programming tools. (I declined all three offers.)

Even as I built this language and the tools around it, I felt conflicted about it. I was, of course, constantly being told I would never succeed – but that wasn’t what slowed me down. Ultimately, I realized that the language was really only designed to make me happy as a programmer – but what I’d really wanted to do was make something that made other people happy as programmers. I set the whole thing aside in 2018 because of this, and while it is technically not totally lost at this point, it remains strongly associated with an identity I no longer operate under, and as such I have chosen not to associate with it since I revealed to the world in 2019 that I am trans.

(This paragraph, for the curious, will cover the technical details of the language as I left it when I quit working on it. If you’re not into programming tech, feel free to skip this. I ended up with a fully self-hosted compiler that generated native x64 binaries that could run on Windows and speak to anything that understood the ABI used by the Win32 APIs. It generated code, by using LLVM, that was highly optimized and rivalled the output of C++ compilers like the one in Microsoft’s Visual Studio as well as Clang, which also uses LLVM. The runtime featured a garbage collection mechanism based on generational collection algorithms, and I’d begun experimenting with hybrid resource management strategies that combined the best efforts of garbage collection’s convenience with the sheer speed of manual strategies as deployed in performance-intensive native software development. I had a complete plugin for Visual Studio that provided syntax highlighting and completion hints, and invoked the compiler itself on-demand. I’d even made substantial progress in integrating the Visual Studio debugger with my language, by manually reverse-engineering the proprietary PDB debug symbol format, aided by efforts from other programmers around the internet. Needless to say, it was a substantially impressive project.)

I promise there’s a point, to me sharing the entire saga of this side-project – which never earned me a dime, cost me thousands of hours and actual physical injuries from working at keyboards so much, and which I’ve chosen not to try to continue with. I learned, from this, what really made me happy wasn’t programming per se; what made me happy was having agency and a degree of skill and expertise. I also learned just how much I could enrich my life when I could make things I wanted to see.

My desire, as it turned out, was never to create programming tools. My desire was to share the joy of that agency and creative power with people.

Even after leaving the software industry a few months ago, broken-hearted and burned out after decades of dealing with systemic oppression and bigotry in the business, I haven’t quite lost my drive to share that joy and power. If anything, I’ve finally gotten the chance to do it on my own terms.

Part 2: Disability-Driven Development

I’ve been programming for over thirty years now. In my time, I’ve seen a lot of fads come and go. There have been many trends, promising to be the Next Big Thing, the Right Answer, the Silver Bullet That Will Fix Software Forever. Of course, none of them really live up to the hype. Ironically, I can think of quite a few different ways that we’ve been told, over the years, to “do” software creation, all of which ended up being dead ends and getting replaced by another fad a few years later. These fads tend to have catchy slogans and names, but one of the patterns that always amused me was to talk about “driving” development, as if using the right Noun to Drive our Development was the obvious strategy for solving everything.

It is from this perspective that I’ve chosen, rather tongue-in-cheek, to call this project “Disability-Driven Development.” Unlike the software fads that continue to proliferate, evolve, and lapse into obscurity, I’m not pretending to have a lasting, ultimate answer. In fact, the whole point of Disability-Driven Development is that it should – if it works – render itself obsolete over time.

I chose “Disability” for a number of reasons, not least of which being the fact that it will immediately sound like some kind of contradiction to a certain kind of people. Why would you “drive” your development process with disability? Won’t that create broken things?

Please note carefully: this is a very intentional way to earn the dismissal and disinterest of the software development world, both in industry and in academia. I know those people well. The sorts of people who hold power, influence, and status in those circles also tend to be disproportionately from the most privileged population on earth: affluent, young-to-middle-aged, able-bodied and able-minded, cishet, white males. Nothing about Disability-Driven Development is meant to appeal to this demographic in any way.

In fact, this acts as something that, in programming parlance, we would call an “early out” – a sort of self-selection process, by which those specific voices – which are so painfully overrepresented in today’s processes for creating software and digital technology – can be safely set aside. The idea is to spend no further resources on them. They are, by construction, irrelevant to the Disability-Driven Development paradigm.

Instead, I choose to focus on Disabled people. This is a paradigm of creation – of making things, of building things, of inventing technology and tools and solutions. It is by us. It is for us. It is not about what we cannot do. It is not about our perceived “deficits” or “lacks” as framed by a capitalist society that medicalizes our existence and deems us “invalid” because we do not produce as much fodder for economic exploitation as other bodies and minds.

Disability-Driven Development is not about anyone else’s success criteria, or metrics, or concepts of worth. This is about us, creating what we want to see, what we need in order to thrive, what we dream of, for no other reason than we fucking want to. The point is to close the gap for us, to reduce the barriers to entry – to change our realities from “dreaming of what we want” to “making because we can.” This will, in turn, unlock more dreams – and we will, in our way, find new ways to chase those dreams.

Many Disabled people are denied access to the skills, tools, experience, and opportunities that are necessary to create software and digital technology. This is a paradigm for radically shifting the access available to the disabled community. This is a strategy of subverting the existing power structures so they can be dismantled and eliminated. This is about everyone getting to make things – because making things is an act of creative agency, and getting to make whatever we want is a radical, powerful thing.

However, Disability-Driven Development is not exclusionary. It is not about only Disabled people. I chose disability as my focus point, but it is not a laser-focus. The idea of Disability-Driven Development is not merely to latch onto one aspect of oppression and marginalization.

On the contrary, the driving mentality of this paradigm is to deeply consider intersectionality. When it comes to systemic oppression, there are many ways to wind up being denied access to things. My choice of disability is a starting point, not a limiting factor. It is about recognizing that disability is a longitudinal experience – it cross-cuts and appears across every other oppressed and marginalized demographic on the planet. Disability is a gateway to dozens of other combinations of marginalized and oppressed people.

By diving directly into empowering the Disabled, the goal of this development paradigm is to cut deeply into the heart of imperialist, white-supremacist, settler-colonial ideas of worth, and to undermine the capitalist concepts of who “should” have access to the means to create whatever we want.

The idea is that by combining the experiences of all those generally excluded from “tech,” we radically invert the power structures that enforce that exclusion. In the process, we unleash tremendous potential for improved quality-of-life by any number of people whose well-being, comfort, worth, and joy are devalued and denied in our world. The hypothesis is that this would, in turn, fundamentally alter the balance of power of the kyriarchy in general, effectively producing a “foothold” from which further efforts at radical liberation can be launched and sustained.

Part 3: Credo

In pursuit of this kind of approach to creating software and digital technology in general, I propose a few basic ideas to underpin the philosophy:

These points all merit further exposition, which I will undertake in the following sections. First, however, it’s worth touching back on a point I mentioned briefly earlier: the whole idea of Disability-Driven Development is that, if it works, it should eventually render itself obsolete.

This is baked into the very principles I’ve listed here. If this kind of thinking is truly pursued, it should have the effect of altering the demographic makeup of “who makes digital technology.” This, in turn, should unlock profound capabilities for marginalized people to create new ways of being: new community support structures, new means of distributing material goods and supports, and new ways to continue to dismantle the kyriarchy itself. In short, the idea is to fuel the undoing of oppression – and that, by its nature, will inevitably lead to changes that make the approach itself no longer necessary. We must be prepared to evolve at every step along the way.

There Is No Right Answer

One of the more pernicious effects of white-supremacy culture in our world is a very limiting obsession with simple, binary answers. This destroys our capacity to think in terms of subtlety and nuance. It ruins our relationship with details and context and situational factors. We must, as I’ve said before, endeavor to throw away these simplistic modes of thinking: Booleans are garbage.

In order to recenter the emphasis of who is “doing” tech-creation, we need to commit to actively resisting this, as well as other white-supremacy myths like the “heroic savior” archetype (which often manifests in “tech” spaces as “the genius in a garage”). We cannot shift the power away from a hierarchy of dominance by clinging to narrow definitions of correctness, suitability, value, worth, or acceptability.

Another important consequence of this rule is that this is not a manifesto. Too many “tech” driving-fads have used the formats of manifestos and all-encompassing language to assert their superiority and permanence. I don’t expect this document to be any kind of long-lasting artifact of “what to do.” This is the beginning of a conversation, not a final word; and if these ideas do not evolve, change, shift, morph, and mutate as they spread among people who find them interesting, they are not alive – they are unlikely to succeed.

Change is good. We should be ready to change our answers as our reality shifts and we discover new questions. Other people will have other ways to think about pursuing the overall goal of redistributing creative power in the software and digital-technology realm. This is a good thing. Our ideas are not in conflict, nor in competition. They will contribute different things in different venues. Our world is big enough to be a comfortable home for many answers.

The Multiply-Marginalized Are In Charge

At the core, the key motivation of Disability-Driven Development is to propose a concrete, actionable praxis by which we can, collectively, de-center the voices in technology-creation that currently dominate the space. To me, this is about much more than just creating equity or facilitating broader access.

Digital technology offers us opportunities to engage with and change our world that have never existed before in history. This is the first time on our world that we’ve been able to recognize that there are People Like Us all over the globe – no matter what our categories of lived experience, the Internet has provided a truly unprecedented chance to recognize that we are not, in fact, alone.

This solidarity is vital to our present, and to our future. Any marginalized or oppressed population can attest to the power of recognizing that we are not alone in our plight and our struggles. Social media technologies and other digital communication systems have helped catalyze and galvanize political action, mutual aid, and relief and rescue efforts that would have been inconceivable thirty years ago.

Digitally-enabled communities are vital for the ongoing life and well-being of many of us; I write this as the third consecutive year of the COVID-19 pandemic drags to a close, still in a personally-chosen quarantine bubble for my own safety and wellness. Being disabled and autistic, I’ve found comfort, companionship, support, and healing all through digital technology.

Even before that, I discovered profound truths about myself via online communities, and forged connections that helped me navigate and actualize my reality as a trans, femme, queer, and non-monogamous person. I have learned more about my gender identity via role-playing and video games than in “real” physical life. Racialized people regularly carve out space – in defiance of hegemonic tech-creators – to build community and connection with each other.

Under all kinds of oppression, digital technology gives us space to exist, survive, and to live; but as long as the creation of that technology remains in the stranglehold of the currently dominant voices, our ability to truly realize the potential of that technology remains drastically limited. In order for the rest of us to genuinely thrive, with the assistance of technology, we must deliberately walk away from the views and experiences of affluent, young-to-middle-aged, able-bodied and able-minded, cishet, white males.

As mentioned before, this must also include a rich understanding of intersectionality. The overlap and interaction of multiple forms of marginalization yields unique combinations of lived experience. It is from this breadth of permutations, this vast array of possibilities, that Disability-Driven Development draws its truest strength.

To be perfectly clear, privileged voices are not forbidden. I myself am white, middle-class, relatively young, and carry several other forms of privilege. It is an unavoidable reality of our inequitable contemporary age that, in order to bring the power to create digital technology to more people, a contingent of privileged people must voluntarily step up and choose to share what we have – our skills, experience, tools, and capabilities – to unlock access for more and more of us who didn’t get the same chance to grow up being programmers.

My goal with this piece of writing is not to lay out “the plan,” but rather to instigate a conversation. I want more people with privileges like my own (or even more) to think about how we can opt-in to enabling this kind of radical power redistribution. I want those of us who Can to lend what we have to the efforts of those who, currently Cannot. We must not, ever, give in to the temptation to believe that we are qualified to “steer the ship.” This is not about making a new hierarchy of access with different demographic makeup. This is about letting go of our own white-supremacy-culture-induced yearning to control and dictate, and let everyone do what they want to do with digital technology.

Success Criteria

I spent a lot of time in a business setting. We had a lot of metrics. We loved “data-driven development” (one of those fads that I chose to poke fun at in the name of this essay). We wanted to quantify everything, and measure our successes, and try to make decisions that made our numbers change in particular ways: more profit, more customers, more hours of engagement every month with our products, fewer failures, fewer bugs, fewer complaints and refund requests, fewer missed deadlines, and on and on seemingly forever.

Disability-Driven Development, as a mindset, takes a rather pointed view of this kind of thinking:

Fuck growth, scale, monetization, and mainstream appeal. Hegemonic notions of success can only yield death for this paradigm.

We do not care about eyeballs. We do not care about retention. We do not care about mindshare, or market-share, or initial public offerings, or stock splits, or venture-capital exit strategies. We do not care about how many users, or how much money, or how many hours a day.

There is precisely one success criteria:

Are people, who would ordinarily be left out of the creation of software and digital technology, getting to make things that bring joy and value to their lives?

Unless we are shifting the limits of who is able to have material access to the creation of tech, we’re not succeeding. On the flip side, if our efforts lead to someone getting to make something who would not have gotten the chance otherwise, we have found some degree of success – even if it is only one person for a short time. The more underserved people we can reach, the more successful we are.

Again, it is worth keeping in mind that this strategy, by its nature, involves constantly-shifting goalposts. It is very likely that a framework like this one would need to evolve and adapt within only a few years, if actually applied en masse, because its very success would alter the landscape of what problems we need to address. This is a good thing. Planned obsolescence is a toxic, exploitative, capitalist strategy of greed; but there is immense value in planning to solve our problem so thoroughly that our entire infrastructure of solution can someday be packed up and repurposed for new things.

Part 4: Concrete Examples

So far this has mostly been an abstract exploration; I’ve talked about philosophy and ideology, and some theoretical notions, but in very little specific detail. In order to highlight the kinds of potential I see for this kind of development paradigm, I think it’s worth taking a bit of time to explore some examples.

When I first started kicking around the idea of Disability-Driven Development, even before it was something that felt like it deserved a name, I had a mental image. That image has guided much of the thinking that has ended up in this essay, and remains something of a guiding light for how I conceive of the entire approach.

I pictured a Black, queer, elderly, blind quadriplegic in their wheelchair, in a rural, agricultural village of maybe a thousand people, somewhere in the Global South. They have a bit of residual vision, but it is intermittent at best, and they get through their day with the use of an AAC device that is attached to their chair. Their community supports them and provides them with what they need, as it should be; but for many hours in the planting and harvesting seasons, they are left more or less alone.

Framed in this setting, I asked myself two questions. First of all, what would happen if this person could, with a minimum of spoken communication (as facilitated by their AAC device), solve minor day-to-day issues they might encounter? What if they could interact with a kind of automation system that could ensure their blood sugar was stable, that they had a clear path to the restroom or their bed, that they could enqueue reminders and requests for their supporting community to check up on when time was available? Surely, this would represent a dramatic change in the quality of life of this person as well as their community, compared to what they would likely have to deal with in the current reality of the world. But this was just the start, and in a lot of ways, it was the least-interesting question.

The much more compelling question, for me, came shortly afterwards: what if this person, sitting in their chair, had everything they needed to build their own assistance and accommodation technology, alongside their community, that was perfect and just for them?

This was the picture in my mind that turned into Disability-Driven Development.

There have been a number of other examples that have roamed through my imagination since; and I have every confidence that this isn’t even the tiniest tip of the iceberg. The point of this paradigm, after all, is to unlock the creative and problem-solving skills of hundreds of millions of us who survive disability every day, drawing upon our uniquely honed capacity for inventing our own means of living. Spoonies are, as a subculture, some profoundly ingenious and inventive folx.

I thought about the ways that user-interface customization remains difficult, limited, and poorly-supported in most conventional contemporary software. I thought about the challenges faced by elderly people, interested in the ideas of digital technology but deterred by the inscrutable and daunting interfaces of computers. What if they could use touchscreen interfaces to literally design the interfaces they found meaningful? What if learning to use a program or platform wasn’t a matter of consulting references and manuals and tutorials, but more akin to a form of exploratory play, that could shape itself to the needs of any given person and adapt along with them over time? What if we could make software that truly didn’t care if we interacted with it via a keyboard or voice dictation? What would it be like if the same exact tools could be used to the same degree of proficiency by someone with 120-WPM touch-typing chops, and someone with no ability to move their own limbs?

What if “programming” didn’t happen in cryptic streams of symbols and jargon (mostly limited to the Latin alphabet)? What if programming, as an activity, could be physically encapsulated in small, reusable objects, that could be plugged into each other and connected into larger systems? What if tactile programming tools were envisioned not as experiments or toys or lesser-quality introductions to “real” programming environments, but as fully equivalent interfaces to making systems? What kind of technological creativity could come from a blind programmer who literally feels their programs taking shape in their hands, and sculpts systems and architectures from blocks and components whose very shapes help to convey their purpose and intent?

What kind of “social media” would emerge if racialized communities could, at a whim, introduce new affordances for interacting with each other, new safety mechanisms for protecting them from harm and abuse, and new kinds of experiences based on collaborative improvisation and evolution? What if nobody had to wait for a programmer somewhere to write a patch, for a product manager to approve a pull request, or for an operations engineer to finish a deployment? What if, within minutes of recognizing a need – or even a desire – for a change in their technology, these communities could have it available to play with together, and refine and evolve over time? (To ground this in current events, what would we see as the emerging successor to Black Twitter if this kind of capability were readily available?)

I don’t think this kind of technological creativity needs to stop in software or digital media, either.

What happens when the building-block programs of the blind programmer cross paths with the mycologist and materials scientist, who then finds a way to create biodegradable programs? What happens when our assistive technologies and one-off problem-solving inventions can be turned back into compost when we’re done with them? What happens when being a programmer starts to blur the lines into agriculture, and we begin talking about cultivating and growing technologies?

What happens when we can start migrating our global, interconnected, digital systems of inter-being over to substrates and hardware that do not rely on silicon or rare metals and minerals extracted by slave labor?

What happens when we get our internet access and our community with People Like Us on the other side of the planet using a device we can grow the parts for in our gardens?

Disability-Driven Development is not merely about making things a bit easier for those of us who struggle to get through any given day of our existence.

Disability-Driven Development is about fundamentally, pervasively, and permanently changing the way we think about who gets to make things, how they get made, and what they’re even made of.

Part 5: How?

This may all seem a bit lofty.

That’s fair. Changing the world is not a small goal, nor a trivial objective.

This essay, however, is not just a thought experiment. This is not just a set of questions meant to inspire new thinking or ideas. This is not yet another blog entry about how Things Could Be Better If Only.

This is an announcement.

I started this essay with my own story – not because I feel a particular need to make this about me, but to make a point. I’ve been involved in making technology for almost my entire life. I’ve created new ways of programming and new tools for creativity for non-programmers alike. I’ve thought long, hard, and deeply about what it takes to make new paradigms; but more importantly, I’ve actually made new paradigms, too.

This is not idle speculation. This is the beginning of a project.

In order for this kind of venture to work, we need a lot of things: ideas, motivated people to contribute, access to the raw resources and time and energy to even kick off the snowball that will hopefully become an avalanche of change. I can only do so much; I’m just one queer, disabled femme with her computer and some free time (but not a ton of spoons). It’s going to take a lot to make this real.

But most of all, it needs a starting place that is concrete. The way programming works, right now, is fundamentally in opposition to the kinds of radical accessibility and interoperability that I’ve hinted at in the examples I’ve discussed. To be clear, there is already research being done into how to do many of these things at some level – but the bottleneck, the core limitation that holds back so much progress in this area, is the very concept of “programming” as it is thought of today.

Programming, right now, mostly means inputting symbols and words in specific orders and formats. It is painfully text-centric. Efforts have been made, over the years, to explore other options (flowchart-based and graph-based methods are perennial favorites of these endeavors) but they ultimately all fall flat when forced to confront the overwhelming tendency of digital technology to want to exist in this rigid, syntax-heavy, text-focused form.

I’ve been involved in maintaining as well as creating many different tools that blur the lines between this kind of “programming” and the sort of freeform creativity I’ve alluded to in this essay. None of them are remotely close to the dream I’m proposing here, of course, but they do provide a tantalizing glimpse of the way forward, at least to me.

This essay has gotten into a lot of the questions of why Disability-Driven Development is important to me, as a concept and a mindset. It is also, as is my style, very long already. So consider this not as a conclusion, but rather as a beginning: I have specific ideas for how to start shifting the conceptual framing of programming in a way that creates room for this kind of paradigm-shift. I’ll be sharing them as I can.

In the meantime, I hope these ideas are interesting and motivating, to whoever may run across them. Shifting power, especially on a societal scale, will take tremendous effort from people who are willing to intentionally take on the project of dismantling the hegemonic structures that keep power locked where it is. But ultimately, I believe that such efforts can unlock radical changes to our world… given time; and a decent supply of spoons.