CREATE Ph.D. Student Emma McDonnell Wins Dennis Lang Award

June 6, 2023

Congratulations to Emma McDonnell on receiving a Dennis Lang Award from the UW Disability Studies program! McDonnell, a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in Human Centered Design & Engineering, is advised by CREATE associate director Leah Findlater.

Emma McDonnell, a white woman in her 20s with short red hair, freckles, and a warm smile. in the background: a lush landscape and the Colosseum.

McDonnell’s research focuses on accessible communication technologies and explores how these tools could be designed to engage non-disabled people in making their communication approaches more accessible. She has studied how real-time captioning is used during videoconferencing and her current work is exploring how people caption their TikTok videos. 

The Dennis Lang Award recognizes undergraduate or graduate students across the UW who demonstrate academic excellence in disability studies and a commitment to social justice issues as they relate to people with disabilities.

This article is excerpted from Human Centered Design & Engineering news.

Findlater and co-authors receive 2020 Best Paper award for study of Voice Assistants by Older Adults

The Association for Computing Machinery announced the 2020 Best Paper Award goes to Use of Intelligent Voice Assistants by Older Adults with Low Technology Use, co-authored by CREATE associate director Leah Findlater, Alisha Pradhan and Amanda Lazar.

The team conducted a 3-week field deployment of the Amazon Echo Dot in the homes of seven older adults to understand how older, infrequent users of technology perceive and use voice assistants. They observed consistent usage for finding health-related information, highlighting concerns about credibility of information with this new interaction medium.

Headshot of Leah Findlater, smiling warmly. She is a white woman with brown hair.

Leah Findlater, CREATE Associate Director

And while voice-based interaction appeared to be easy to learn, the study pointed to some usability and accessibility challenges to be addressed, including:

  • Devices timing out before users complete their voice commands
  • Unclear and inconsistent voice commands that must be remembered
  • Dependency on paired computing devices
  • Lack of awareness of the voice assistance device’s capabilities

CREATE faculty and students awarded at ASSETS 2020

Congratulations to UW CREATE faculty on multiple awards at ASSETS 2020, the International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility!

“The University of Washington has been a leader in accessible technology research, design, engineering, and evaluation for years. This latest round of awards from ACM ASSETS is further testament to the great work being done at the UW. Now, with the recent launch of CREATE, our award-winning faculty and students are brought together like never before, and we are already seeing the great things that come of it. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.” 

— Prof. Jacob O. Wobbrock, Founding Co-Director, UW CREATE

Best student paper:  
Living Disability Theory: Reflections on Access, Research, and Design
Megan Hofmann, Devva Kasnitz, Jennifer Mankoff, Cynthia L Bennett

Best paper:
Input Accessibility: A Large Dataset and Summary Analysis of Age, Motor Ability and Input Performance 
Leah Findlater, Lotus Zhang
Links: gitub code repository

Best artifact:

SoundWatch, as described in the paper Exploring Smartwatch-based Deep Learning Approaches to Support Sound Awareness for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Users 
Dhruv Jain, Hung Ngo, Pratyush Patel, Steven Goodman, Leah Findlater, Jon Froehlich
Links: github code repository | presentation video

Read more

SoundWatch smartwatch app alerts d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing users to sounds

October 28, 2020 | UW News

UW CREATE faculty members Jon Froehlich and Leah Findlater have helped develop a smartwatch app for d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing people who want to be aware of nearby sounds. The smartwatch will identify sounds the user is interested in — such as a siren, a water faucet left on, or a bird chirping — and send the user a friendly buzz along with information.

“This technology provides people with a way to experience sounds that require an action… [and] these devices can also enhance people’s experiences and help them feel more connected to the world,” said lead author Dhruv Jain, a UW doctoral student in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.

A wrist with a smartwatch on it. The smartwatch has an alert that says "Car honk, 98%, Loud, 101 dB" It also has options to snooze the alert for 10 minutes or open in an app on the user's phone.
The SoundWatch smartwatch app that identifies nearby sounds and alerts wearers. Jain et al./ASSETS 2020

The team presented their findings Oct. 28 at ACCESS, the ACM conference on computing and accessibility.

Learn more about SoundWatch, the full team and how the smartwarch app evolved from a collection of tablets scattered around a house.

Learn more

UW CREATE leadership at ASSETS 2020

UW CREATE has a large and quality presence at ASSETS 2020, the premier annual conference for accessible computing research. Drawing from three departments, University of Washington authors contributed to six papers and two posters to be presented at this year’s online conference. Three of our papers were nominated for best paper! Seven members also served in conference roles: two on the organizing committee and five on the program committee.

The papers and posters span a variety of topics including input performance evaluation of people with limited mobility, media usage patterns of autistic adults, sound awareness for d/Deaf and hard of hearing people, and autoethnography reports of multiple people with disabilities. Congratulations to the authors and their collaborators!

We look forward to seeing you virtually at ASSETS 2020, which runs October 26 to 28.

A handcarved cane with a spiral design and painted green at the top
An autoethnograher’s daughter’s handcrafted cane, as presented in the paper, “Living disability theory: Reflections on access, research, and design.”
SoundWatch uses smartwatch-based deep learning approaches to support sound awareness for deaf and hard of hearing users.”
The SoundWatch, as described in the paper: “SoundWatch: Exploring smartwatch-based deep learning approaches to support sound awareness for deaf and hard of hearing users.”

Accepted papers

Input accessibility: A large dataset and summary analysis of age, motor ability and input performance

Leah Findlater, University of Washington
Lotus Zhang, University of Washington

The reliability of fitts’s law as a movement model for people with and without limited fine motor function

Ather Sharif, University of Washington
Victoria Pao, University of Washington
Katharina Reinecke, University of Washington
Jacob O. Wobbrock, University of Washington

Lessons learned in designing AI for autistic adults: Designing the video calling for autism prototype

Andrew Begel, Microsoft Research
John Tang, Microsoft Research
Sean Andrist, Microsoft Research
Michael Barnett, Microsoft Research
Tony Carbary, Microsoft Research
Piali Choudhury, Microsoft
Edward Cutrell, Microsoft Research
Alberto Fung, University of Houston
Sasa Junuzovic, Microsoft Research
Daniel McDuff, Microsoft Research
Kael Rowan, Microsoft
Shibashankar Sahoo, UmeΠInstitute Of Design
Jennifer Frances Waldern, Microsoft
Jessica Wolk, Microsoft Research
Hui Zheng, George Mason University
Annuska Zolyomi, University of Washington

SoundWatch: Exploring smartwatch-based deep learning approaches to support sound awareness for deaf and hard of hearing users

Dhruv Jain, University of Washington
Hung Ngo, University of Washington
Pratyush Patel, University of Washington
Steven Goodman, University of Washington
Leah Findlater, University of Washington
Jon E. Froehlich, University of Washington

Living disability theory: Reflections on access, research, and design

Megan Hofmann, Carnegie Mellon University
Devva Kasnitz, Society for Disability Studies
Jennifer Mankoff, University of Washington
Cynthia L Bennett, Carnegie Mellon University

Navigating graduate school with a disability

Dhruv Jain, University of Washington
Venkatesh Potluri, University of Washington
Ather Sharif, University of Washington

Accepted posters

HoloSound: Combining speech and sound identification for Deaf or hard of hearing users on a head-mounted display

Ru Guo, University of Washington
Yiru Yang, University of Washington
Johnson Kuang, University of Washington
Xue Bin, University of Washington
Dhruv Jain, University of Washington
Steven Goodman, University of Washington
Leah Findlater, University of Washington
Jon E. Froehlich, University of Washington

#ActuallyAutistic Sense-making on Twitter

Annuska Zolyomi, University of Washington
Ridley Jones, University of Washington
Tomer Kaftan, University of Washington

Organizing Committee roles

Dhruv Jain as Posters & Demonstrations Co-Chair
Cynthia Bennett as Accessibility Co-Chair

Program committee roles

Cynthia Bennett (recent alumni, now at Apple/CMU) 
Leah Findlater
Jon Froehlich
Richard Ladner
Anne Ross

AccessComputing shares UW CREATE’s launch and work toward accessibility

AccessComputing | July 28, 2020

AccessComputing highlighted several research projects of UW CREATE faculty. An excerpt:

CREATE’s stated mission is “to make technology accessible and to make the world accessible through technology.” CREATE faculty pursue projects along both of these lines. Prof. [Jacob] Wobbrock was part of a team that helped make touch screens accessible by inventing Slide Rule, the world’s first finger-driven screen reader, in 2007. A research team including Profs. Richard Ladner, James Fogarty, and Wobbrock created GestureCalc, an eyes-free calculator for touch screens.

Prof. Jon Froehlich has created Project Sidewalk to use crowdsourcing and machine learning to gather and present outdoor navigation information, particularly the accessibility of sidewalks. Dr. Anat Caspi has a similar project called AccessMap, which provides personalized automated pedestrian routing.

Prof. Jennifer Mankoff conducts research on consumer-grade fabrication technology, such as low-cost 3D printing, and how this technology can be used to meet do-it-yourself or do-for-others accessibility challenges.

Professor Heather Feldner enables children with disabilities to explore the physical world through creative mobility support in her Go Baby Go project. [Kat Steele’s Open-Orthoses projects work with individuals with disabilities to co-design customized devices, rigorously test the devices, and provide open-source designs that accelerate development.]

For these and many other projects, CREATE faculty are already internationally recognized for their contributions to assistive technology and accessible computing; by bringing them together under one organizational roof, CREATE will enable synergies and foster collaborations that enable faculty and students to become more than the sum of their parts.

Read the full article

Four CREATE faculty receive Google Research Awards

UW News | March 16, 2020

Four UW CREATE faculty have been named recipients of Google Faculty Research Awards. The grants, among 150 Google recently announced, support world-class technical research in computer science, engineering and related fields. Each award provides funding to support one graduate student for a year.

The recipients are Jennifer MankoffJames Fogarty and Jon Froelich of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and Leah Findlater of the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering.

The goal of the awards is “to identify and strengthen long-term collaborative relationships with faculty working on problems that will impact how future generations use technology,” according to Google.