Terms of use: Crip legibility in information systems


  • Gracen Brilmyer
  • Crystal Lee




Centering disabled voices and leveraging disability studies as methodology within the construction of information systems can sharpen analyses of the design of information systems, algorithmic decision making, and their impacts. In this article, we put forth three main points: (1) thinking at the intersection of information and disability studies is productive and sharpens analyses about technology, bodyminds, and identity; (2) disabled people render themselves legible or illegible in information systems by creatively adapting to or resisting them; and (3) analyses of crip legibility are crucial to re-imagining the future of information systems. Together, these facets illustrate a move we call crip legibility: how disabled people flexibly respond to, contort, or collectively organize themselves to fit within (or be understood by) existing information systems while building new systems of resistance and care. This term considers the processes by which disabled bodyminds are disciplined, surveilled, or otherwise required to conform to standards set by existing ableist systems while holding space to reimagine otherwise. Information systems — like library call numbers that classify, document, and inform — might distill someone’s experience or identity into a format that becomes readable for medical diagnosis, hiring, legal compliance, and is reproduced in other settings or systems. Using case studies from this special issue, we show how prevalent and harmful these systems can be, how disabled people have resisted or worked around them, and how we might imagine or build otherwise. Crip legibility, then, draws attention to both histories and contemporary embodiments of surveillance and classification — of both disabled and non-disabled bodies — and commits to reimagining information systems that resist technoableist norms.



2023-01-16 — Updated on 2023-02-03


How to Cite

Brilmyer, G., & Lee, C. (2023). Terms of use: Crip legibility in information systems. First Monday, 28(1). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v28i1.12935 (Original work published January 16, 2023)