Discussions about automation and digital labour rarely consider the digitalisation of access work, such as British Sign Language interpretation or audio description.

This Round 3 Innovation Fund project explores how increased digitisation of access work impacts the roles of disabled and d/Deaf employees in the workplace and how these employees can be supported by access workers.

The research will seek to understand access workers’ own experiences of the changing and digitising workplace through in-depth, iterative ethnographic interviews. While this interview data will inform more traditional policy and academic reports, it will also ground two commissioned works of speculative fiction that imagine a future of work from access workers’ perspectives.

The project aims to contribute to new models for perceiving, participating in, and potentially regulating workplace digitalisation and automation in respect to disability and the future of work.

Research questions

  1.  What are the roles of access workers in the workplace
  2. How are access workers’ expertise and practices changing due to the digitalization of work?


  • Interviews with access workers
  • Collaboration with two writers to produce works of fiction that imagine a ‘near future’ workplace through access workers’ perspectives


Principle Investigator: Louise Hickman (Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy, University of Cambridge)

Co-Investigator: Hannah Wallis

Assistant Curator: Wysing Arts Centre