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November 2015 Vol. 53 No. 3

Johns Hopkins University Press

The following review appeared in the November 2015 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Science & Technology
Information & Computer Science

2014-33485 CIP
Petrick, Elizabeth R. Making computers accessible: disability rights and digital technology. Johns Hopkins, 2015. 196p index afp ISBN 9781421416465, $49.95; ISBN 9781421416472 ebook, $49.95.

This book is the published version of the dissertation of Elizabeth Petrick (New Jersey Institute of Technology), prepared at the University of California, San Diego.  She creatively and thoughtfully brings together three growing areas of historical scholarship: disability rights, technical developments in computing, and users of personal computers.  Petrick traces efforts at adding and, later, creating built-in assistive technology through a prehistory that includes programming in the 1960s and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, do-it-yourself endeavors, groups of families and others who networked both in person and online, initiatives at IBM and Apple for their employees, Brøderbund's accessible software, and the growth of universal design in hardware and operating systems.  The story emphasizes the experiences of blind and deaf users as well as advocacy and invention by parents of children with cerebral palsy.  Petrick draws upon a variety of primary sources, such as internal corporate documents and newsletters, brochures, user guides, legal records, and news accounts.  Little comparable work on the history of accessible computing appears to exist.  The book could be used in courses on the history of computers or as a case study for developments in consumer technology.

--A. K. Ackerberg-Hastings, University of Maryland University College

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels.