Director of Strategy & Operations, CREATE Center

The University of Washington’s Center for Research and Education on Accessible Technology and Experiences (CREATE) seeks a Director of Strategy and Operations to join our team as a key leader to help steward this new multidisciplinary center that involves faculty from multiple units across campus.

Working in close collaboration with the Center’s Faculty Leadership Team, the Director of Strategy and Operations will have the overall responsibility of developing and overseeing organizational strategy, designing and implementing a diverse array of programs, enabling the successful execution of center operations, and helping to ensure a sustainable trajectory of high quality work in service of the Center’s core mission, which is ‘To make technology accessible and to make the world accessible through technology’. 

CREATE, launched Spring 2020, is a collaborative effort that brings together faculty, staff, students and community partners across disciplines including computer science, engineering, rehabilitation medicine, and information sciences. Located at the University of Washington, a world-class research university, and embedded within the local community in the Pacific Northwest, this new Center is leading programs that span research, education, translation, advocacy and outreach. 

This is a rare and unusual opportunity to join a community of scholars and leaders ready to help change the face of accessibility for people with disabilities. Our center addresses critical access issues throughout peoples’ lifespan and across all spheres of life. Our ideal candidate is a passionate leader and communicator with a track record of successfully growing and operating an organization. Further, the candidate possesses demonstrated experience managing and leading people, including the ability to develop and empower top-notch staff and promote a positive, inclusive and accessible culture that values societal impact and social change. This is a relatively new center, and the successful candidate is someone who excels at helping the faculty co-founders execute their vision and build a successful culture and operations. 

Reporting directly to the Center Directors and working closely with other Center staff, the Director of Strategy and Operations will support CREATE’s Faculty Leadership team and Associate Directors, serving as chief administrator for all the Center’s daily operations and programs. The Director of Strategy and Operations will supervise, support and work closely with several direct reports, including a Finance Administrator, Community Manager, and Communication Manager. The Director of Strategy and Operations will also be a resource for CREATE’s diverse community of faculty affiliates, visiting professors, post docs, and students.  

In CREATE, there is an expectation that all faculty and staff will step up where they see an opportunity to apply their special expertise or talents, speak up when they identify opportunities or concerns, and lead by taking actions that exemplify CREATE’s core values, including accessibility and inclusion. Individuals with disabilities and other intersectional and underrepresented backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants are encouraged to specify any access needs that can be of help during the application/interview process. 


Research outputs from and activities of CREATE will help grow and advance the field of accessibility, addressing key aspects of who is included in society, and who can use the technologies that are becoming increasingly critical in today’s world. Our goal is to make sure that people with disabilities are represented as both stakeholders and leaders in all aspects of the work necessary to achieve our mission. This will continue to establish the University of Washington as the leading research institution both nationally and internationally in this field. 


  • Bachelor’s degree with a minimum of three years of administrative and strategic management experience, including financial and budgetary oversight and at least two years of direct professional staff supervision. 
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills; ability to communicate effectively with a wide variety of internal and external constituents. 
  • Ability to build a successful organizational culture and develop comprehensive internal processes. 
  • Strategically minded, analytical leader. 
  • Discreet facilitator and problem solver with a high tolerance for ambiguity. 
  • Autonomous self-starter with intellectual confidence and flexibility and ability to effectively manage multiple demands and priorities. 
  • Demonstrate a high degree of initiative-taking, problem solving capability, creativity, and capacity for innovative thinking. 
  • Proficiency in developing budgets, fiscal monitoring and financial projections using multiple fund sources. 
  • Strong technology skills and inclination to adapt and learn new technologies. 
  • Demonstrated success in working with diverse populations, including people with disabilities. 
  • Knowledge of best practices for accessibility and inclusivity in all aspects of center work from documents that are produced to meeting practices and interpersonal engagement. 


  • Advanced degree preferred. 
  • Experience in a large-scale, complex academic institution. 
  • A passion for the Center’s mission: To make technology accessible and to make the world accessible through technology.

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  • For questions about the position, email
  • For questions about the hiring process, email

Undergraduate Research with CREATE researchers this summer!

Undergrads, a 10-week summer research position is available with an interdisciplinary team led by CREATE associate directors Kat Steele, Heather Felder, and CREATE faculty member Kim Ingraham. The student researcher will study how early access to powered mobility experiences can impact toddlers with disabilities across developmental, movement, and language domains.

To apply, email your resumé/CV and a paragraph explaining your interest in the position, plus any other relevant information to Kim Ingraham.

A11yBoard Seeks to Make Digital Artboards Accessible to Blind and Low-Vision Users

Just about everybody in business, education, and artistic settings needs to use presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Adobe Illustrator. These tools use artboards to hold objects such as text, shapes, images, and diagrams. But for blind and low vision (BLV) people, using such software adds a new level of challenge beyond keeping our bullet points short and images meaningful. They experience:

  • High added cognitive load
  • Difficulty determining relationships between objects
  • Uncertainty if an operation has been successful

Screen readers, which were built for 1-D text information, don’t handle 2-D information spaces like artboards well.

For example, NVDA and Windows Narrator would only report artboard objects in their Z-order – regardless of where those objects are located or whether they are visually overlapping – and only report its shape name without any other useful information.

From A11yBoard video: still image of an artboard with different shapes and the unhelpful NVDA & Windows Narrator explanation as text.

To address these challenges Zhuohao (Jerry) Zhang, a CREATE Ph.D. student advised by Jacob O. Wobbrock at the ACE Lab, asked: 

  • Can digital artboards in presentation software be made accessible for blind and low-vision users to read and edit on their own?
  • Can we design interaction techniques to deliver rich 2-D information to screen reader users?

The answer is yes! 

They developed a multidevice, multimodal interaction system – A11yBoard – to mirror the desktop’s canvas on a mobile touchscreen device, and enabled rapid finger-driven screen reading via touch, gesture, and speech. 

Blind and low-vision users can explore the artboard by using a “reading finger” to move across objects and receive audio tone feedback. They can also use a second finger to “split-tap” on the screen to receive detailed information and select this object for further interactions.

From A11yBoard video: still image showing touch and gesture combos that help blind and low vision users lay out images and text.

“Walkie-talkie mode,” when turned on by dwelling a finger on the screen like turning on a switch, lets users “talk” to the application. 

Users can therefore access tons of details and properties of objects and their relationships. For example, they can ask for a number of closest objects to understand what objects are near to explore. As for some operations that are not easily manipulable using touch, gesture, and speech, we also designed an intelligent keyboard search interface to let blind and low-vision users perform all object-related tasks possible. 

Through a series of evaluations with blind users, A11yBoard was shown to provide intuitive spatial reasoning, multimodal access to objects’ properties and relationships, and eyes-free reading and editing experience of 2-D objects. 

Currently, much digital content has been made accessible for blind and low-vision people to read and “digest.” But few technologies have been introduced to make the creation process accessible to them so that blind and low-vision users can create visual content on their own. With A11yBoard, we have gained a step towards a bigger goal – to make heavily visual-based content creation accessible to blind and low-vision people.

Paper author Zhuohao (Jerry) Zhang is a second-year Ph.D. student at the UW iSchool. His work in HCI and accessibility focuses on designing assistive technologies for blind and low-vision people. Zhang has published and presented at CHI, UIST, and ASSETS conferences, receiving a CHI best paper honorable mention award, a UIST best poster honorable mention award, and a CHI Student Research Competition Winner, and featured by Microsoft New Future of Work Report 2022. He is advised by CREATE Co-Director Jacob O. Wobbrock.

Zhuohao (Jerry) Zhang standing in front of a poster, wearing a black sweater and a pair of black glasses, smiling.

Reimagining Mobility: Inclusive Architecture

On October 13, 2021 Karen Braitmayer shared images from her experience of— and critical goals for— inclusive architecture. Noting that the best and brightest designers might come in bodies that are different than employers expect, she called for design schools to welcome students with disabilities and for design firms to hire and support the careers of designers with disabilities.

First steps for designers:

  • Provide options: wider seats, different height soap dispensers, etc.
  • Learn about building codes and regulations.
  • Talk to folks who have already figured out how to accommodate for their own disabilities and hack for accessibility.

Sign up for the Conversations

Karen Braitmayer using a wheelchair in a modern building with stairs and ramps

Architect Karen L. Braitmayer, FAIA, is the founding principal of Studio Pacifica, an accessibility consulting firm based in Seattle, Washington. Her “good fight” has consistently focused on supporting equity and full inclusion for persons with disabilities.

In 2019, she was chosen as the national winner of the AIA Whitney M. Young, Jr. award—a prestigious award given to an architect who “embodies social responsibility and actively addresses a relevant issue”. In the award’s 48-year history, she was the first recipient honored for their work in the area of civil rights for persons with disabilities. Braitmayer was also appointed by President Barack Obama to the United States Access Board, a position she retains today.

Join the Reimagining Mobility conversation

Join us for a series of conversations imagining the future of mobility. Hosted by CREATE Associate Directors Kat Steele and Heather Feldner, we connect and learn from guests who are engaged in critical mobility work – ranging from researchers to small business owners to self-advocates. We will dive deeply into conversations about mobility as a multifaceted concept, and explore how it intersects with other dimensions of access across contexts of research, education, and public policy. 

Sign up for the Conversations

Reimagining Mobility: A Conversation with Sara Hendren

This UW CREATE event has passed. Continue for a summary and to watch the entire online session. Sign up for future Reimagining Mobility Conversations.

To launch the Reimagining Mobility Conversation Hub series we could think of no better guest speaker than Sara Hendren. Part of reimagining is examining the current state of the world, reframing our viewpoints, and having the courage to try new things. Sara’s work really epitomizes this process.

Sara Hendren shared her perspective on the future of mobility and lessons she learned through writing her new book, What Can A Body Do? How We Meet the Built World.

In our Conversation Hub session, Hendren examined what it takes to move through the world with a disability, accounting for the affordances (or lack thereof) of the built environment and creative design that simultaneously facilitates participation and challenges ableist assumptions about design. She shared examples of how we can think past the better known examples of high tech prosthetics and universal design to also consider low tech, highly individualized access solutions. She discussed the universal human experiences of interdependence and dependence (rather than independence) as we navigate our world.

Hendren is an artist, design researcher, writer, and professor at Olin College of Engineering. Her work spans collaborative public art and social design that engages the human body, technology, and the politics of disability — such as a lectern for short stature or a ramp for wheelchair dancing. She also co-founded the Accessible Icon Project. 

Bright yellow image from a book cover with the title 'What Can a Body Do? How We Meet the Built World' and author 'Sara Hendren.'
Cover of Hendren’s book, What Can a Body Do? In the presentation, she explains the choice to have the text run past the boundary of the space.

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

Reimagining Mobility: CREATE Conversation Hub

The revised disabled symbol, a person with their arms back to go quickly in a manual wheelchair, in red shown on a parking sign over the old symbol.

What constitutes mobility and who gets to define it?

How do we move and explore the world?

What barriers and assumptions limit mobility? 

How do we support all forms of mobility throughout the lifespan?

Mobility is about more than how we get from Point A to Point B. Regardless of form, mobility is a medium through which  we interact and engage with the world. Yet, assumptions about “normal” or “acceptable” ways to move are literally cemented into our world.

Digital artist Francis Tsai, an asian man, sitting in his wheelchair in front of a computer screen, where he is using eye gaze tools to create art. His left leg is crossed over his right, and his arms are supported by his wheelchair and his palms are facing up. There are two windows with blinds drawn in the background.

Richard Ladner Receives 2020 Public Service Award from National Science Board

National Science Board | August 11, 2020

Richard Ladner, Founder of AccessComputing and Allen School faculty member

Dr. Richard Ladner, CREATE’s Director for Education, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Public Service Award for an individual from the National Science Board (NSB). In recognizing Ladner, the board cited his exemplary science communication, diversity advocacy, and well-earned reputation as the “conscience of computing.”

“When we think about diversity, we must include disability as part of that. The conversation about diversity should always include disability.”

Richard Ladner, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering

From his foundational experiences as a graduate student teaching hands-on mathematics in his community to co-founding AccessComputing, Dr. Ladner has spent his career educating and changing the conversation on diversity. In recognizing Ladner, the National Science Board (NSB) cited his exemplary science communication, diversity advocacy, and well-earned reputation as the “conscience of computing.”

“When we think about diversity, we must include disability as part of that. The conversation about diversity should always include disability,” said Ladner.

As a faculty member, now Professor Emeritus, in the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, he has mentored 136 students, including 30 Ph.D. students. “I visited Richard’s lab at the University of Washington just over 10 years ago. While I did get to see Richard, he was most interested in my meeting his Ph.D. students — and I could see why,” recalled Vicki Hanson, CEO of the Association for Computing Machinery. “Richard had provided an atmosphere in which his talented students could thrive. They were extremely bright, enthusiastic, and all involved in accessibility research. I spent the day talking with his students and learning about their innovative work.”

Ladner has participated in, or organized, numerous computer science workshops for high school students with disabilities. Currently, he and his colleagues are developing accessible curricula and training teachers to help more students with disabilities participate in AP Computer Science Principles courses. Their curricula train teachers of blind and visually impaired students, teachers of deaf and hard of hearing students, and teachers of learning-disabled students.

In accepting congratulations for the reward, Ladner wrote to his peers, “I am very pleased and honored to receive this Public Service Award from the National Science Board. I’m very fortunate to be in a school where we support each other in our research, teaching, and service, including public service.”

Read more

This article includes excerpts from the NSB press release and the Allen School announcement.