An app for everything, but can everyone use it?

Medium | May 26, 2020

For most of us, the day seems to revolve around our phones: check email, read the news, pay bills, and get directions to the store. Mobile apps are essential in day-to-day life.

Unfortunately, many apps fail to be fully accessible to people with disabilities or those who rely on assistive technologies. As one blind app user noted, using an inaccessible app is “a constant feeling of being devalued. It doesn’t matter about the stupid button that I can’t press in that moment. It’s that it keeps happening. … And the message that I keep receiving is that the world just doesn’t value me.”

Anne Spencer Ross is a UW Ph.D. candidate in computer science, working on accessibility.  She wrote about the state of app accessibility and shared ways that app users and developers can help make apps work for everyone. 

Read more of Ross’ article

UW Disability Studies, D Center win UW Medicine CLIME Grant

UW faculty and staff affiliated with CREATEUW Disability Studies and the UW D Center have received a grant from the Center for Leadership and Innovation in Medical Education (CLIME) to explore what it means to be an ally to people with disabilities. “This is an integral issue informing professional education in the medical fields as well as in design and engineering, says PI Heather Feldner. “I am most excited that this project has the potential to further the conversation about how an inclusive mindset can shape contemporary health professions education and practice. Accessibility and technology will be a big part of these conversations and the subsequent training material development. To be able to approach this project with the multidisciplinary perspectives of the CREATE team as a resource is a huge asset.”

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.

ASSETS Paper Impact Award

Jacob Wobbrock honored for improving touch-screen accessibility

Congratulations to Jacob O. Wobbrock, a founding co-director of CREATE, for his work with Shaun Kane, PhD ’11 and Jeffrey Bigham, PhD ’09 improving the accessibility of mobile technology.

The team received the 2019 SIGACCESS ASSETS Paper Impact Award for their 2008 paper, “Slide Rule: Making mobile touch screens accessible to blind people using multi-touch techniques.” The award is given biennially by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing and recognizes a paper published at least a decade earlier that made a significant innovation that has been influential in the field.

Slide Rule addressed the challenge of navigating within a screen when mobile phones transitioned from physical buttons to touch screens. Their methods represented the first screen reader for touch screens, using simple gestures for navigation and tapping targets. These features have since become mainstream in commercial products.

Given the prevalence of touch screens in our society, the need to make them accessible to all people is still great, and we will continue to pursue that goal, along with the many other projects we are doing.

Jacob O. Wobbrock

As technology continues to advance, Wobbrock’s team continues to identify innovative methods for interaction that improve accessibility. Read more about the award and his recent research.

Designing for the fullness of human experience

Anat Caspi and Taskar Center featured on King 5’s New Day Northwest

A familiar face joined Margaret Larson on New Day NW this morning. Anat Caspi, Director of the Taskar Center and Director of Translation for the UW Accessibility Center, shared recent innovations from robotics to smart, sensing environments.

Technology design has taken this stance about designing for the “average” person. And in many cases that is a big design mismatch to the needs and preferences of people who are not the “average” …

Anat Caspi

View the full interview on the King 5 website.

With AI and other tech, Anat Caspi focuses on helping people with disabilities

CREATE Director for Translation Anat Caspi shares her research goals and inspiration, including the value of her first programming class and her perspective as a parent.

In her role as the director of the University of Washington’s Taskar Center for Accessible Technology, Caspi creates technology focused on people with disabilities such as motor limitations, in many instances applying artificial intelligence (AI).

“It’s really about treating people as humans with different needs and preferences,” she says.

She sees the mapping of pedestrian infrastructure — walkways, sidewalks, overpasses, underpasses and trails — as a necessary lifeline for people with disabilities. Everyone approaches an environment with different levels of attentiveness and perceptual and motor abilities. 

Read the full Seattle Times Business & Technology article.

With AI and other tech, Anat Caspi focuses on helping people with disabilities

The Seattle Times | August 4, 2019

In her role as the director of the University of Washington’s Taskar Center for Accessible Technology, Caspi creates technology focused on people with disabilities such as motor limitations, in many instances applying artificial intelligence (AI).

“It’s really about treating people as humans with different needs and preferences,” she said as a cyclist passing by rang a bell.

She sees the mapping of pedestrian infrastructure — walkways, sidewalks, overpasses, underpasses and trails — as a necessary lifeline for people with disabilities. Everyone approaches an environment with different levels of attentiveness and perceptual and motor abilities. 

So Caspi and her Taskar team created a framework to log the features of sidewalk infrastructure in a project called OpenSidewalks, which is now being used by King County’s paratransit service to help people with disabilities navigate any trip. She also helped create AccessMap, an AI-powered online travel planner that identifies surfaces, slopes and obstacles to help users choose the best route for them.

Read full Seattle Times article.

UW students join Teach Access Study Away program

May 25, 2019

Five University of Washington students, joining a group of 25 students from 7 different universities, traveled to Silicon Valley in May 2019 to participate in the Teach Access program Study Away Silicon Valley (SASV). Professor Ladner served as one of six faculty mentors for the small group projects that participating students completed during the five days of SASV. 

Richard Ladner, mentor, and 5 UW students at Study Away Silicon Valley

The students visited the accessibility teams at Walmart, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Verizon Media Group (Yahoo!), and Facebook, where they learned how each of these companies are making their products and services more accessible and usable. One of the UW students will join Microsoft as a software engineer at the end of the 2019-20 academic year and another two will join Microsoft as 2020 summer interns. 

Read more