Community Day & Research Showcase 2022

CREATE’s 2nd Annual Community Day took place on June 8th and was a tremendous success. With over 100 registered participants and presenters, this year’s event demonstrates strong growth, returning to in-person (and also virtual) panel discussions and a research showcase of 14 project teams.

This year’s panels addressed the disproportionate impact of access to assistive technology on children with disabilities in BIPOC and immigrant communities as well as the issues that arise with the intersection of accessibility and biometric technologies. We were honored to host panelists from the AHSHAY CenterProvailOpen Doors for Multicultural Families, UW’s Taskar Center for Accessible Technology, and the University of Maryland’s iSchool.

Learn more:

CREATE becomes a principal sponsor of HuskyADAPT

CREATE is pleased to be a financial and advisory sponsor of HuskyADAPT, an interdisciplinary community that is dedicated to improving the availability of accessible technology in Washington and fostering conversations about the importance of accessible design. 

HuskyADAPT is led by a team of UW students and six faculty advisors, including CREATE directors Kat SteeleHeather FeldnerAnat Caspi and Jennifer Mankoff. Open to all to join, their three primary focus areas are annual design projects, K-12 outreach and toy adaptation workshops, where volunteers learn how to modify off-the-shelf toys to make them switch accessible. The team also collaborates closely with Go Baby Go!.

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HuskyADAPT logo, with 3 heaxagons containing icons of tools, people and vehicles.

Ga11y improves accessibility of automated GIFs for visually impaired users

Animated GIFs, prevalent in social media, texting platforms and websites, often lack adequate alt-text descriptions, resulting in inaccessible GIFs for blind or low-vision (BLV) users and the loss of meaning, context, and nuance in what they read. In an article published in the Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’22), a research team led by CREATE Co-director Jacob O. Wobbrock has demonstrated a system called Ga11y (pronounced “galley”) for creating GIF annotations and improving the accessibility of animated GIFs.

Video describing Ga11y, an Automated GIF Annotation System for Visually Impaired Users. The video frame shows an obscure image and the question, How would you describe this GIF to someone so they can understand it without seeing it?

Ga11y combines the power of machine intelligence and crowdsourcing and has three components: an Android client for submitting annotation requests, a backend server and database, and a web interface where volunteers can respond to annotation requests.

Wobbrock’s co-authors are Mingrui “Ray” Zhang, a Ph.D. candidate in the UW iSchool, and Mingyuan Zhong, a Ph.D. student in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.

Part of this work was funded by CREATE.

VoxLens allows screen-reader users to interact with data visualizations

A screen reader with a refreshable Braille display. Credit: Elizabeth Woolner/Unsplash

Working with screen-reader users, CREATE graduate student Ather Sharif and Co-Director Jacob O. Wobbrock, along with other UW researchers, have designed VoxLens, a JavaScript plugin that allows people to interact with visualizations. To implement VoxLens, visualization designers add just one line of code.

Millions of Americans use screen readers for a variety of reasons, including complete or partial blindness, learning disabilities or motion sensitivity. But visually-oriented graphics often are not accessible to people who use screen readers. VoxLens lead author Sharif, a UW doctoral student in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering noted, “Right now, screen-reader users either get very little or no information about online visualizations, which, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, can sometimes be a matter of life and death. The goal of our project is to give screen-reader users a platform where they can extract as much or as little information as they want.”

With written content, there is a beginning, middle and end of a sentence, Wobbrock, Co-senior author explained, “But as soon as you move things into two dimensional spaces, such as visualizations, there’s no clear start and finish. It’s just not structured in the same way, which means there’s no obvious entry point or sequencing for screen readers.”

Participants learned how to use VoxLens and then completed nine tasks, each of which involved answering questions about a visualization. Compared to participants who did not have access to this tool, VoxLens users completed the tasks with 122% increased accuracy and 36% decreased interaction time.

Learn more

This article was excerpted from a UW News article. Read the full article for additional details about the project.

Heather Feldner ‘wrote the book’ on  power mobility device for babies

CREATE Associate Director Heather Feldner has ​authored two guidebooks, instructing caregivers, researchers and ​clinicians how to introduce Permobil’s ​Explorer Mini to young children between the ages of 12 and 36 months. Permobil’s Explorer Mini is a new, lightweight, joystick-operated powered mobility device ​that provides opportunities for mobility, exploration, and play for children with disabilities at ages and stages that are more equitable compared to their peers without disabilities.

Headshot of Heather Feldner, smiling brightly. She is a white woman with short brown and grey hair, and wears dark rimmed glasses, a gray shirt and black sweater.

Feldner ​and her co-authors have synthesized their own work  and ​work from pioneers in the field, describing the benefits and impact of on-time access to mobility, as well as evidence-based strategies for introducing powered mobility to young children based on developmental and experiential learning stages. ​This multidisciplinary guideline was authored by Feldner, a pediatric physical therapist, Teresa Plummer, an occupational therapist, and Alyson Hendry, a speech-language pathologist, with key input from 40 stakeholders across the world, including caregivers of young children who use powered mobility devices.

The guideline is available open-source and consists of a full, peer-reviewed research document as well as a caregiver guidebook version introducing the Explorer Mini and the various learning stages for infants and toddlers with disabilities. The guideline covers a wide variety of topics including collaborative partnership with caregivers and children, safety, a description of developmental domains that powered mobility introduction affects (such as cognition, communication, socio-emotional development, and participation), as well as practical tips and strategies for facilitating success in mobility and exploration at every learning stage. 

Feldner’s research ​at UW centers on the design and implementation of mobility technology and its effects upon activity and participation within a variety of personal and environmental contexts, including how perceptions of disability and identity emerge and evolve through technology use. ​She is also engaged in research and advocacy work centered on disability as an integral part of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives and anti-ableism in healthcare education and beyond. 

CREATE student Venkatesh Potluri is an Apple Scholar

Venkatesh Potluri has been selected as a 2022 Apple Scholar — a fellowship that supports cutting-edge machine learning researchers at the graduate and post-graduate level.

A Ph.D. student in the Allen School, Potluri is advised by CREATE Co-Director Jennifer Mankoff in the Make4All Group.

Venkatesh Potluri leans toward the camera smiling with eyes cast downward.

As an Apple Scholar, Potluri is recognized as an emerging leader in computer science and engineering and will receive funding to pursue his Ph.D., internship opportunities, and mentorship with an Apple researcher.

Potluri’s research makes overlooked software engineering spaces such as IOT and user interface development accessible to developers who are blind or visually impaired. Visually impaired himself, his work systematically understands the accessibility gaps in these spaces and addresses them by enhancing widely used programming tools.

Previously, Potluri received a 2019 Google Lime Scholarship and a 2018-2019 Microsoft Endowed Fellowship.

Feldner and Harniss receive research poster award for work on allyship training in rehabilitation education

CREATE Associate Director Heather Feldner and co-authors, including CREATE affiliate faculty Mark Harniss, received a blue ribbon award as one of the top 3 posters for Social Responsibility at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Combined Sections meeting.

Selected by the Health Policy & Administration Section Global Health Special Interest Group of the APTA, the team was cited for their work to amplify the voices and experiences of students, staff, and faculty who identify as disabled/with a disability across UW campuses. These experiences are the foundation for developing a disability allyship training curriculum for health professions education and beyond.

The team behind the paper and poster, “Diversity and Equity Includes Disability: Developing a Disability Allyship Training Curriculum for Rehabilitation Education” is: Heather A. Feldner, Katherine Chamblin, Lesley M. Ellis, Heather D. Evans, Mark Harniss, Danbi Lee, and Joanne Woiak.

Headshot of Heather Feldner, smiling brightly. She is a white woman with short brown and grey hair, and wears dark rimmed glasses, a gray shirt and black sweater.
Mark Harniss a white man in his 50s with short brown hair and blue eyes wearing a dark polo shirt in front of fall-colored leaves.

The initial work was funded by a UW CLIME small grant, and several team members will be continuing the next phases of this work with new grant funding received in January from the UW Royalty Research Fund.

Richard Ladner named AAAS Fellow

Congratulations to CREATE Director for Education Richard Ladner on being named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)! He is among 564 new fellows from around the world elected in 2021 for distinguished achievements in science and engineering.

Ladner was recognized for his advocacy and inclusion efforts for people with disabilities in computer science and related fields. His work has included development of numerous tools to perform specific tasks, including translating textbook figures into formats accessible to persons with disabilities, and enabling people to communicate via cell phones using American Sign Language.

In addition to the AAAS fellowship, Ladner has been honored as a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar, an Association for Computing Machinery Fellow and an IEEE Fellow.

Excerpted from the UW News article. See the AAAS announcement.

CREATE Submits RFI on Disability Bias in Biometrics

CREATE, in collaboration with representatives of the Trace Center people with backgrounds in computer science policy and disability studies, submitted a response to the Science and Technology Policy Office‘s request for “Information on Public and Private Sector Uses of Biometric Technologies“. See our full response on Arxiv. We summarize the request for information, and our response, below.

What are biometric technologies?

Biometric technologies are computer programs that try to guess something about you. Sensors today can capture your heart rate, fingerprint, face. They can watch you walk, and even find identifying information in your typing style and speed. Initially, biometrics were designed to identify people. This has expanded to include emotion, intent, disability status, and much more.

What does the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) want to know?

The OSTP wants to hear from many different types of people who may have very different wishes for, and worries about, biometric technology. For example, their Request for Information mentions industry, advocacy groups, tribal governments, academic researchers, and the general public.

They are interested in how biometrics may be used and what their benefits are. But they also want to know how to use them well. For example, they ask how biometrics can be more likely to correctly identify a person, or their emotion, intent and so on. They also ask about security concerns — could one person using a biometric system pretend to be someone they are not, for example. They ask about other possible harms such as whether biometrics work equally well for all people, or whether they might be used for surveillance, harassment, or other worrisome activities.

They finally ask about appropriate governance. Governance refers to rules that might increase the value and safety of biometrics. An example is who should be included in ethical decisions about biometric use. Rules about how it is ok to use biometrics, or ways of preventing problematic use are also on this list. Transparency and whether biometrics can be used in court are also mentioned.

What did CREATE have to say about this?

CREATE led a discussion of disability bias and risk in the use of biometric technology.

Ableist assumptions

The benefits of such technologies are similar for people with and without impairments, however access to such technologies is important for equitable use. Ableist assumptions built into an application can make it inaccessible even if it meets legal standards. For example, an automatic door may close too fast for some users, or a voice menu may time out. These inaccessibilities are avoidable if systems are designed with disabled users in mind.

Biased data

Biometric systems require data (many examples of whatever information they are using, to guess things about people). If that data is biased (for example, lacks examples from people with disabilities), biometrics are likely to be far less accurate in their guesses for those populations. A person might have unusual or missing  limbs and not have a fingerprint, or walk differently, or speak differently than the system expects, and thus be unable to access services tied to recognition of fingerprints, gait, or voice. This can also make biometrics inaccessible. The CREATE response discusses several examples of how these biases can creep into data sets.

Lack of personal agency and privacy

Next, the risks of biometric failures can be higher for people with disabilities. For example, if a disability is rare, this can make data security more difficult, or make it more likely that different people with similar impairments are confused for each other. In addition, it is possible that biometrics might be used to label someone as disabled without their permission, an abuse of personal agency and privacy. Also, a biometric system may implicitly enforce what it means to be “human” when they fail to recognize a disabled body and then deny access to services as a result.

What solutions did CREATE recommend?

These problems are difficult, but not impossible, to solve.

Include people with disabilities in the design

CREATE’s first recommendation is to ensure that people with disabilities are given the chance to help in the design and assessment of biometric systems. Participatory design, which includes people with disabilities as important stakeholders in the design process, is a good first step. However true equity will require that people with disabilities can enter the technology workforce so that they can directly build and innovate such systems. This requires access to higher education programs; access to conferences and events where research and products are discussed, presented and shared; and accessible tools for programming biometrics. In addition, the disability community needs to get involved in policy and decision making around biometrics.

Set standards for algorithm accessibility

Next, we need new standards for algorithm accessibility, just as we have standards for web page accessibility. These should include expectations about testing with disabled populations, and collecting unbiased data.

Ensure transparency, responsiveness and permission

Additionally, there should be rules about transparency, the ability to override or replace biometric systems when they fail to correctly understand a disabled person’s actions or input, and rules about not abusing biometrics by, for example, detecting disability without permission.

CREATE Co-Director Jacob O. Wobbrock Named ACM Fellow

We congratulate CREATE Co-Director Jacob O. Wobbrock on being named an ACM Fellow by the Association for Computing Machinery for his contributions to human-computer interaction and accessible computing!

Wobbrock’s research seeks to understand and improve people’s interactions with computers and information, especially for people with disabilities. He is the primary creator of ability-based design, which scrutinizes the ability assumptions embedded in technologies in an effort to create systems better matched to what people can do.

For this and his other contributions to accessible computing, he received the 2017 ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award and the 2019 SIGACCESS ASSETS Paper Impact Award. He was also inducted to the ACM CHI Academy in 2019. In addition to being a CREATE founding co-director, Professor Wobbrock directs the ACE Lab and is a founding member of UW’s cross-campus DUB Group.

The ACM is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society. ​​Its Fellows program recognizes the top 1% of members for their outstanding accomplishments in computing and information technology and/or outstanding service to the ACM and the larger computing community. ACM Fellows are nominated by their peers, with nominations reviewed by a distinguished selection committee.

Wobbrock, and the other 70 Fellows named in 2021 will be formally recognized at the ACM Awards Banquet in San Francisco in June.

This article is adapted from the UW Information School (iSchool) article and the ACM press release.

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

Perkins School touts Blocks4All for blind and low vision students

The Perkins School for the Blind — one of the most famous schools for the blind in the world — is heavy into technology for their students. Recently they touted the Blocks4All app, paired with a Dash robot, as a tool to teach block coding to blind and low vision students.

“The Blocks4All app is completely accessible on the iPad with VoiceOver and Dash carries out the commands, making it easy for students who are visually impaired to know if they used the correct commands,” wrote Diane Brauner, Perkins’ manager of Paths to Technology.

Blocks4All was developed by Lauren Milne, a former student of CREATE Director of Education, Richard Ladner. Milne is now an Assistant Professor at Macalester College in Minnesota.  

This past summer, Milne and Ladner got together again with several students to make Blocks4All even more accessible and to create two activities for the Hour of Code.

Learn more:

Ph.D. student Ather Sharif targets personalized design, visualizations, ableism

Media sites offer digital graphics for important information such as election polling data, stock market trends, and COVID-19, excluding many users. CREATE Ph.D. student Ather Sharif‘s research on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) focuses on designing data visualizations to be accessible by people with low vision or who are blind.

Headshot of Ather Sharif outside on a sunny balcony with blue sky behind him

“We have built a world where people who are blind or have low vision are unable to… participate in the financial world or polling information. We have built technology where we have excluded them on a very fundamental level.”

Ather Sharif, doctoral student in the Allen School at UW

Before a car accident and intense physical therapy to recover the use of his hands, Sharif built websites without considering whether people with disabilities could access them. “It was only after I became a part of the disability community that I started to realize how inequitable the world is for people with disabilities, and I wanted to do something to fix that using the skills I already had,” Sharif said.

With his new perspective, Sharif wants to see technology being built to adapt to the needs of its users — personalized technology as opposed to universal design, which is designed for the majority and forces users to adapt to technology.

A doctoral student in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, Sharif is co-advised by CREATE faculty Katharina Reinecke and CREATE Co-Director Jacob O. Wobbrock.

This article was adapted and excerpted from the UW Graduate School’s profile of Ather Sharif and his research. Read the full article.

Feldner and Steele’s ‘Reimagining Mobility’ series featured in The Daily

Collaboration and diverse perspectives and approaches are at the heart of CREATE’s mission to make technology accessible and make the world accessible though technology.

One program developed by CREATE faculty looks at mobility solutions and ways to eliminate barriers. Hosted by CREATE associate directors Kat Steele and Heather Feldner, the Reimagining Mobility Conversation Hub brings in speakers from a variety of backgrounds and industries to inspire conversations about the future of mobility.

The UW student newspaper, The Daily, featured the program in Reimagining Mobility: Professors Amplify Disabled Voices in the November 15 2021 issue.

Headshot of Kat Steele, smiling warmly. She is a white woman with long brown hair.

Working at a children’s hospital made me want to grow my knowledge as an engineer. There was just this disconnect of how we thought about technology, how we thought about what was possible, and what was actually available.

Dr. Kat Steele, CREATE Associate Director and Albert S. Kobayashi Endowed Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Headshot of Heather Feldner, smiling brightly. She is a white woman with short brown and grey hair, and wears dark rimmed glasses, a gray shirt and black sweater.

How we move around really impacts our social relationships. It impacts our ability to participate in school, in jobs, in social events — it’s really one of our major connections to the world. The end goal of mobility is to engage in our lives and participate meaningfully.

Dr. Heather Feldner, CREATE Associate Director and
Assistant Professor, Rehabilitation Medicine: Physical Therapy

Faculty and Alumni win awards at ASSETS 2021

Congrats to the many accessibility leaders from CREATE and UW who won awards at ASSETS 2021.

Co-authored by Jennifer Mankoff (a founding co-director of CREATE), Gillian R. Hayes and Devva Kasnitz in 2010, the paper, Disability studies as a source of critical inquiry for the field of assistive technology, has been awarded the 2021 SIGACCESS ASSETS Paper Impact Award at the virtual 2021 ASSETS Conference. This award is given to a “significant innovation or contribution to knowledge that has proved influential” over at least a decade. The paper was cited for groundbreaking and influential work on bridging the gap between the assistive technology research field and the field of disability studies.

The Best Paper Award went to Qisheng Li, Josephine Lee, Christina Zhang and CREATE faculty member Katharina Reinecke for How Online Tests contribute to support systems for people with cognitive and mental disabilities.

The Best Artifact Award went to a UW team Lucy Wang, Isabel Cachola, Jonathan Bragg, Evie Cheng, Chelsea Haupt, Matt Lazke, Bailey Kuehl, Madeleine van Zuylen, Linda Wagner and Daniel Weld for making academic papers accessible through scia11y.

A runner up for Best Artifact Award was Sidewalk Gallery, by Michael Duan, Aroosh Kumar, Mikey Saugstad, Aileen Zeng, Ilia Savin and CREATE Associate Director Jon E. Froehlich. Sidewalk Gallery is an interactive, filterable gallery of over 600,000 crowdsourced sidewalk accessibility images across seven cities in two countries (US and Mexico). It includes five primary accessibility problem types, 35 tag categories, and a 5-point severity scale.

Best paper nominations also went to students Kelly Mack; Venkatesh Potluri; Dhruv Jain; and Erin Beneteau for their paper Mixed abilities and varied experiences: a group auto-ethnography of a virtual summer internship and Kelly Mack for her paper Designing Tools for High-Quality Alt Text Authoring.

Finally, the Best Student Paper Award went to a team including CREATE Alumnus Cynthia Bennett and UW Alumnus Jeffrey P. Bigham for their work on Aided Nonverbal Communication through Physical Expressive Objects

Congrats to all!

Previous ASSETS paper awards for CREATE faculty

CREATE faculty also had many successes at ASSETS 2020 and ASSETS 2019 including:

Best student paper (2020):  
Living Disability Theory: Reflections on Access, Research, and Design
Megan Hofmann, Devva Kasnitz, Jennifer Mankoff, Cynthia L Bennett

Best paper (2020):
Input Accessibility: A Large Dataset and Summary Analysis of Age, Motor Ability and Input Performance 
Leah Findlater, Lotus Zhang

Best Artifact (2020):

Dhruv Jain, Hung Ngo, Pratyush Patel, Steven Goodman, Leah Findlater, Jon Froehlich

Paper Impact Award (2019):
Slide rule: making mobile touch screens accessible to blind people using multi-touch interaction techniques
Jacob Wobbrock

CREATE Community Day & Research Showcase 2021

CREATE Community Day 2021, held on June 8, was a rich program that included an important discussion of the concerns and approaches to just, sustainable accessibility research that puts the needs of community members with disabilities front and center. Following this discussion, CREATE members highlighted what their labs are doing, with time to hear about a variety of individual projects. Here are some highlight videos of a small sample of the presentations:

Visual semantic understanding in blind and low-vision technology users
“I can bonk people!”: Effects of modified ride on cars on communication and socio-emotional development in children with disabilities
Blocks4All, an accessible blocks-based programming language
Decoding Intent With Control Theory: Comparing Muscle Versus Manual Interface Performance

Just one day later, the Future of Access Technology class held their final presentations. This class was designed to engage students in active contribution to the disability community, and included assignments to audio-describe videos for; try to address bugs within the NVDA open source screen reader community; and build first-person informed final projects on a wide range of topics, including:

  • Improved Word Alt Text plug-in modifies the default behavior in Microsoft PowerPoint when an image is inserted such that the user is prompted with a dialog box that guides them to create alt text that is high quality and contextually relevant to the image’s intended use.
    video preview | website
  • VSCodeTalk project implements a Visual Studio Code extension of CodeTalk, which  makes Visual Studio more accessible to visually impaired developers.
    video preview | website
  • Input Macros project makes it possible to easily add text shortcuts (e.g., “ty” automatically becomes “thank you”) in both Word and on the Web.
    video preview | website
  • Non-verbal Captioning project provides a SnapChat filter that explores how non-verbal captioning in video meeting applications can support DHH and other captioning users.
    video preview | website
  • Signal Monitoring for Accessibility for mobile and hardware programming makes serial port signal data, such as that generated by an Arduino system, accessible to BLV developers. Data can be copied to the system clipboard and audible cues are fired on significant events in the input data stream.
    video preview | website

$1M NIDILRR award for leadership training program

A team of CREATE faculty has received a five-year, $1M grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) for the project, “ARRT: Postdoctoral Training in Physical Computing and Fabrication to Support Innovations for Community Living and Participation.” Congratulations on the funding to the team members:

  • Co-PI Jennifer Mankoff, Ph.D and Professor Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering
  • Co-PI Anat Caspi, Ph.D. and Principal, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering
  • Heather Feldner, PT, Ph.D., PCS and Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Kat Steele, Ph.D. and Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering 

The award funds a program that will train four postdoctoral fellows to become leaders in rehabilitation research who can harness advances in physical computing and fabrication to enhance community living and participation with people with disabilities. Each fellow will complete a 24-month training program to build their expertise in physical computing, fabrication, rehabilitation, and disability studies. Training will address a shortage of people qualified to harness, deliver, and advance physical computing for rehabilitation research. The four postdoctoral fellows will participate in research, coursework, and mentoring that expands expertise in using primary and complex adaptation tools, 3D-modeling software, and fabrication machines (e.g., laser cutters, 3D printers) for rehabilitation applications. Their innovative research, publications, presentations, and community resources will amplify the impacts of this training program.

Grad student Kelly Mack receives a Dennis Lang award

Kelly Mack, a Ph.D. student in Computer Science and mentored by CREATE Founding Co-Director Jen Mankoff, received a Dennis Lang Award from the UW Disabilities Studies program and the following praise:

“Kelly is dedicated to improving accessibility for disabled students at UW through her research, service, and mentoring and allyship. Her thesis work will examine communication between DRS, students, and other stakeholders, and develop a prototype to allow tracking of DRS requests for improved accountability.”

This award honors Dennis Lang, a co-founder of the UW Disability Studies Program, for his dedication and service in the creation and growth of the UW Disability Studies community and program. The award goes to students who embody Dennis’ spirited commitment to and academic excellence in the field of Disability Studies.

Mack received a merit-based monetary award and was recognized at the Disability Studies convocation on June 4.

Jon Froehlich named Outstanding Faculty Member by the UW College of Engineering

Congrats to CREATE Associate Director Jon Froehlich on being selected for the Outstanding Faculty Award by the UW College of Engineering!

As noted by the College, Froehlich went to extraordinary measures to support his students’ learning during the pandemic. He fundamentally transformed physical computing courses for virtual platforms, assembled and mailed hardware kits to students’ homes, and developed interactive hardware diagrams, tutorials and videos. In addition, Froehlich co-created and led a group of university educators to share best practices for remote teaching of computing lab courses.

Jon Froehlich, CREATE Associate Director and Allen School faculty member

As chair for the conference ASSETS’22, Froehlich has helped ensure the conference is accessible to not only those with physical or sensory disabilities, but for those with chronic illnesses, caretaking responsibilities, or other commitments that prevent physical travel.

In response to the award, Froehlich noted, “I quite literally could not have done this without [CREATE Founding Co-Directors] Jake and Jen’s mentorship and support.”

This article was excerpted from the UW College of Engineering’s CoE Awards announcement.

The Future of Assistive Technology: A Panel Discussion

Anat Caspi, CREATE’s Director for Translation, participated in a panel discussion on the future of assistive technology and how recent innovations are likely to affect the lives of people with disabilities.

Read on to find out what Caspi had to say about how industry and education can and should shape future AT. For the full Provail Assistive Technology Panel discussion, watch the video below.

On what’s the biggest recent game-changer, Caspi noted that larger companies have recognized the importance of inclusive design and the need for multi-modal platforms, data standards, and the ability of Android, iOS and Microsoft platforms to offer integrated access functionality, not just at the single application level but throughout the entire operating system. While speech generation technology is evolving to include natural language processing such as gesturing and inflection and interaction devices like eye-gaze and pupil tracking, Caspi looks forward to communication devices being used to manipulate 3-D interaction in physical space as well as VR/AR.

With increased accessibility to prototyping, organizations and educators need to be reaching out to high school students and introduce them to design thinking and inclusive design.

Anat Caspi, CREATE Director for Translation, Director of the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology 

Caspi noted that small-scale innovation, as encouraged by the maker and DIY movements, can be adopted by niche as well as large-scale markets thanks to a game-changing trend in consumer electronics markets: the availability of cheap sensing technologies and the popularity of what’s commonly known as Internet of Things. With increased accessibility to prototyping, organizations and educators need to be reaching out to high school students and introduce them to design thinking and inclusive design. Recently, there is a trend even among the larger technology organizations to create the introductory tools and educational materials at scale in order to gain a steadier audience and attract a more diverse group of future engineers and innovators.

Further, the future will see assistive technology designed for a team — not just the primary user but also their support network: caregivers, parents, and therapists.

The panel’s sponsor, PROVAIL, is a non-profit based in western Washington that provides therapy and active living services for people with mild to severe disabilities, for whom service options and resources are often limited.

Watch the full panel discussion