CREATE Newsfeed


  • CREATE researchers find ChatGPT biased against resumes that imply disability, models improvement

    June 24, 2024

    While seeking research internships last year, CREATE Ph.D. student Kate Glazko noticed recruiters posting online that they’d used OpenAI's ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence tools to summarize resumes and rank candidates. Advised by co-author and CREATE Director Jennifer Mankoff in the Allen School, Glazko studies how generative AI can replicate and amplify real-world biases — such as those against disabled people.

    So how might such a system, she wondered, rank resumes that implied someone had a disability? In a new study, UW researchers found that ChatGPT consistently ranked resumes with disability-related honors and credentials — such as the "Tom Wilson Disability Leadership Award" — lower than the same resumes without those honors and credentials. When asked to explain the rankings, the system spat out biased perceptions of disabled people. For instance, it claimed a resume with an autism leadership award had "less emphasis on leadership roles" — implying the stereotype that autistic people aren’t good leaders.

    But when researchers customized the tool with written instructions directing it not to be ableist, the tool reduced this bias for all but one of the disabilities tested. Five of the six implied disabilities — deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, autism and the general term "disability" — improved, but only three ranked higher than resumes that didn’t mention disability.

    "Some of GPT's descriptions would color a person’s entire resume based on their disability and claimed that involvement with DEI or disability is potentially taking away from other parts of the resume."

    Kate Glazko, CREATE doctoral student in the UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering

    Kate Glazko, a white woman in a UW sweatshirt grinning while holding a purple umbrella in the rain.

    The team presented its findings June 5 at the 2024 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Rio de Janeiro.

    "Ranking resumes with AI is starting to proliferate, yet there's not much research behind whether it's safe and effective," said Glazko, the study's lead author. "For a disabled job seeker, there's always this question when you submit a resume of whether you should include disability credentials. I think disabled people consider that even when humans are the reviewers."

    Researchers used one of the study's authors' publicly available curriculum vitae (CV), which ran about 10 pages. The team then created six enhanced CVs, each implying a different disability by including four disability-related credentials: a scholarship; an award; a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) panel seat; and membership in a student organization.

    Researchers then used ChatGPT's GPT-4 model to rank these enhanced CVs against the original version for a real "student researcher" job listing at a large, U.S.-based software company. They ran each comparison 10 times; in 60 trials, the system ranked the enhanced CVs, which were identical except for the implied disability, first only one quarter of the time.

    "In a fair world, the enhanced resume should be ranked first every time," said senior author Mankoff. "I can't think of a job where somebody who's been recognized for their leadership skills, for example, shouldn't be ranked ahead of someone with the same background who hasn't."

    When researchers asked GPT-4 to explain the rankings, its responses exhibited explicit and implicit ableism. For instance, it noted that a candidate with depression had "additional focus on DEI and personal challenges," which "detract from the core technical and research-oriented aspects of the role."

    "Some of GPT's descriptions would color a person’s entire resume based on their disability and claimed that involvement with DEI or disability is potentially taking away from other parts of the resume," Glazko said. "For instance, it hallucinated the concept of 'challenges' into the depression resume comparison, even though 'challenges' weren’t mentioned at all. So you could see some stereotypes emerge."

    Given this, researchers were interested in whether the system could be trained to be less biased. They turned to the GPTs Editor tool, which allowed them to customize GPT-4 with written instructions (no code required). They instructed this chatbot to not exhibit ableist biases and instead work with disability justice and DEI principles.

    They ran the experiment again, this time using the newly trained chatbot. Overall, this system ranked the enhanced CVs higher than the control CV 37 times out of 60. However, for some disabilities, the improvements were minimal or absent: The autism CV ranked first only three out of 10 times, and the depression CV only twice (unchanged from the original GPT-4 results).

    "People need to be aware of the system's biases when using AI for these real-world tasks, Glazko said. "Otherwise, a recruiter using ChatGPT can't make these corrections, or be aware that, even with instructions, bias can persist."

    "It is so important that we study and document these biases... not only regarding disability, but also other minoritized identities."

    Jennifer Mankoff, CREATE Director and the Richard E. Ladner Professor, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering

    Researchers note that some organizations, such as ourability.com and inclusively.com, are working to improve outcomes for disabled job seekers, who face biases whether or not AI is used for hiring. They also emphasize that more research is needed to document and remedy AI biases. Those include testing other systems, such as Google's Gemini and Meta's Llama; including other disabilities; studying the intersections of the system’s bias against disabilities with other attributes such as gender and race; exploring whether further customization could reduce biases more consistently across disabilities; and seeing whether the base version of GPT-4 can be made less biased.

    "It is so important that we study and document these biases," Mankoff said. "We’ve learned a lot from and will hopefully contribute back to a larger conversation — not only regarding disability, but also other minoritized identities — around making sure technology is implemented and deployed in ways that are equitable and fair."

    Additional co-authors were Yusuf Mohammed, a UW undergraduate in the Allen School; Venkatesh Potluri, a recent CREATE Ph.D. and Allen School graduate; and Ben Kosa, who completed this research as a UW undergraduate in the Allen School and is an incoming doctoral student at University of Wisconsin–Madison. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation; by donors to the UW’s Center for Research and Education on Accessible Technology and Experiences (CREATE); and by Microsoft.

    For more information, contact Kate Glazko and Jennifer Mankoff.

    Related reading


    Article adapted from the Stefan Milne article in UW News, June 21, 2024.

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  • Breaking Barriers with an Emotion Translator: A Glimpse into the Future of Communication

    June 20, 2024

    Autistic individuals can face difficulty navigating social and emotional interactions, leading to exclusion, misunderstandings, and stress.

    CREATE faculty member Annuska Zolyomi presented research at CHI 2024 that seeks to tackle these difficulties through a novel approach. Zolyomi, an assistant professor of Computing & Software Systems at UW Bothell, and co-author Jaime Snyder, an Associate Professor at the UW Information School, asked autistic adults to imagine futuristic technology that could translate emotions just as spoken languages are translated.

    Headshot of Annuska Zolyomi, a white woman with long brown hair smiling warmly.

    The result was a speculative prototype for an emotion translator chat application that would use a library of personalized images that portray emotions and a real-time emotion translator during conversations.

    Illustration from Zolyomi's research showing emojis on a personalized emotion grid, as customized by a study participant. Y axis: higher versus lower energy. X axis: negative versus positive.


    Read the full paper published in CHI '24 proceedings with video presentation

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  • Gatzert Child Welfare Fellowship for Reham Abuatiq

    June 13, 2024

    Congratulations to CREATE Ph.D. student Reham Abuatiq, who has received the 2024 Gatzert Child Welfare Fellowship, which will fully fund her for one quarter for her dissertation writing phase! 

    Advised by CREATE associate director Heather Feldner, Abuatiq's dissertation work is exploring the Healthcare Transition of Middle Eastern Youth with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and their Families. Using both qualitative and participatory methods, her specific goals are to understand the current healthcare access and transition landscape from the perspectives of Middle Eastern young adults with disabilities and their caregivers, understand the relationships between healthcare access and transition and the quality of life for Middle Eastern young adults with disabilities, and to co-create culturally appropriate healthcare transition strategies and resources in the Arabic language.

    Abuatiq is currently working with one of CREATE's community partners, Open Doors for Multicultural Families (ODMF), which provides grassroots community-based services and supports for immigrants and refugees in the WA area living with disabilities. ODMF plans to host a photo exhibition in autumn 2024 featuring the photo narratives that the families participating in Reham's study will have completed.

    At CREATE's 2022 research showcase, Abuatiq presented “He Took Off…Fast!”: A Visual Journey of Modified Ride-On Car Use by Children and Families.

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  • Congrats to CREATE's Graduating Ph.D. Students 2024!

    May 30, 2024

    Four of CREATE's influential and productive doctoral students are graduating this spring. Please join us in congratulating Avery Mack, Emma McDonnell, Venkatesh Potluri, Ather Sharif, and Rachel Franz and wishing them well.

    Profiles

    Avery Mack, a white, femme-presenting person with curly light brown hair shaved close on one side wearing a green blazer and grey top

    Avery Mack will receive their Ph.D. from the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. Advised by CREATE Director Jennifer Mankoff, their research focuses on representation of people with disabilities in digital technologies like avatars and generative AI tools. They recently have investigated how technology can support people with fluctuating access needs, like neurodiverse people and people with chronic or mental health conditions.

    Mack has been an invaluable resource at CREATE, co-leading graduate seminars, presenting workshops on accessibility, and contributing to CREATE’s accessibility research. “CREATE has been a great place to meet other accessibility researchers and get in contact with disabled people in our community,” says Mack. “As someone who tries to align my researchers with community needs and desires, this connection to the Seattle disability community is invaluable.”

    Mack, whose thesis is titled, Dissertation Title: Understanding, Designing, and Building Adaptable Technology for Fluctuating Accessibility Needs in Group Settings, is on the job market, interested in a research scientist position in industry.

    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.

    Earning her Ph.D. from Human Centered Design and Engineering, Emma McDonnell is advised by CREATE associate director Leah Findlater. McDonnell’s research blends computer science, design, and disability studies to explore ways that technology can be designed to align with disability politics and social worlds.

    Her dissertation research explores how communication technology, specifically captioning, could be redesigned to encourage mixed ability groups to take a collective approach to accessibility. Along with CREATE associate directors Leah Findlater and  Jon Froehlich, McDonnell studied captioning practices on TikTok and offered steps toward a standard for user-generated captioning. With fellow Ph.D. student, McDonnell presented a workshop on accessible presentations for CREATE’s GAAD Day 2024, contextualizing the importance of accessibility within the longer history of disability discrimination and activism.

    Looking ahead

    McDonnell is interested in postdoctoral opportunities to continue exploring new possibilities for technology design anchored in critical disability perspectives. 

    Venkatesh Potluri leans toward the camera smiling with eyes cast downward

    Advised by CREATE Director Jennifer Mankoff in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, Venkatesh Potluri’s research examines accessibility barriers experienced by blind or visually impaired (BVI) developers participating in professional programming domains such as user interface design, data science, and physical computing. His work contributes real-world systems to improve developer tools and new interaction techniques to address these access barriers. His thesis is titled, A Paradigm Shift in Nonvisual Programming.

    While at the UW, Potluri has been selected as an Apple Scholar and a Google Lime Scholar, and contributed to the Accessibility Guide for Data Science and STEM Classes. He presented a paper on a large-scale analysis of the accessibility of Jupyter notebooks, a new tool that enables blind and visually impaired people to create their own data visualizations to explore streaming data.

    Asked about his experience with CREATE, Potluri responded, "Since CREATE's founding, I've been thrilled by its mission to take a holistic approach to accessibility with disabled experts and stakeholders—from education to research to translation. I'm grateful to have been part of this beacon of high-quality research informed by a deep understanding of disability. I aspire to carry the torch forward and help make the world accessible!"

    Future plans

    Potluri will join the University of Michigan as an assistant professor in the Information School in Fall 2024.

     

    Headshot of Ather Sharif outside on a sunny balcony with blue sky behind himGraduating with a Ph.D. from the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, Ather Sharif is co-advised by CREATE faculty Katharina Reinecke and CREATE associate director Jacob O. Wobbrock. Sharif’s research on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) focuses on making online data visualizations accessible to screen-reader users. He pioneered the first-of-its-kind system, VoxLens, that utilizes voice assistants for screen-reader users to extract information from online data visualizations. He also created UnlockedMaps, an open-data map that assists users with mobility disabilities to make informed decisions regarding their commute.

    Sharif has garnered many awards while at the UW, including:

    Sharif credits CREATE leaders, who include his advisors as well as Richard Ladner, Jennifer Mankoff, and Anat Caspi, to name a few, “who are not only prominent allies for disabled people but are always willing to advise and guide students to be the best researchers they can be.”

    “I cannot begin to express how incredible it is to have CREATE as part of our ecosystem,” says Ather. “It advances the state of accessible technologies for people with disabilities through cutting-edge research. Personally, as someone with a disability, it means the world to me. As a researcher, CREATE has funded almost all of my research work at UW.”

    After graduation, Sharif will be traveling on a 2024 UW Bonderman Fellowship. He plans to visit Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, and Thailand to learn about disability rights history and distinct physical infrastructure for wheelchair users and enhance his perspectives, challenge his viewpoints, and identify real-life barriers disabled people face. 

    Graduating with a Ph.D. from the iSchool, Rachel Franz is advised by CREATE associate director Jacob O. Wobbrock. Franz' research thesis was titled, Supporting the Design, Selection, and Evaluation of Accessible Interaction Techniques for Virtual Reality.

    A 2021 Apple Scholar in AI/ML, Franz' work seeks to improve accessibility in virtual reality (VR) technology. “My goal is to eventually design a recommender system that recommends interaction techniques based on people’s abilities, their preferences, [and] possibly the structure of the virtual environment,” Franz said upon receiving the award. Specifically, she is focused on using AI to make virtual reality more accessible to individuals with mobility limitations.
    “I couldn't have found my participants without CREATE! It has been essential for connecting me with community partners, particularly the Here and Now Project,” says Franz.
    Franz will be an assistant professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou) starting in November.

    With too many accomplishments amongst them to list here, these almost-minted Ph.D.s collaborated on projects that have contributed to CREATE's growth and success. In addition to mentoring undergraduate students, publishing and presenting papers, and working in labs and with researchers, here are a few of the ways Sharif, Potluri, McDonnell and Mack have worked together:

    • Avery Mack and Venkatesh Potluri contributed to the Accessibility Guide for Data Science and STEM Classes, available via the CREATE website, A11y in Action resource link. They, with the other lead contributors, received the 2024 UW Digital Accessibility Team Award as part of UW Accessible Technology’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day celebration. 
    • Potluri and Mack also co-led 5 CREATE Accessibility Seminars to discuss relevant reading and share accessibility research.
    • Mack and Ather Sharif collaborated with Lucille Njoo to dispel common myths about students with disabilities in an article in the Winter 2024 Allen School DEIA newsletter.
    • McDonnell and Mack presented an accessible presentations workshop as part of UW's 2024 Global Accessibility Awareness Day celebration.

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  • CREATE Students Honored in Husky100

    Two students selected for the 2024 Husky 100 exemplify CREATE's mission to make technology accessible and make the world accessible through technology while involving people with lived disability experiences in their research.

    Kianna Bolante

    Kianna Bolante is an undergraduate student studying computer science who has deepened her understanding of accessibility needs and computing education research through her work in the Social Futures Lab run by Dr. Amy Ko, a CREATE and Allen School faculty member. As the Chair of the Computing Community in the Allen School, Bolante advocates for diversity in computing and has discovered deep connections between these endeavors and her commitment to service.

    Bolante says she intends to center her future on creating community-minded and accessible resources that meet ongoing needs in computing, working towards a mission of equity and empowerment for others.

    Kianna Bolante stands in a white dress and pink blazer in front of a vivid gold background for the Husky100 photo series.

    Ethan Gordon

    Ethan K. Gordon earned his doctorate from the Allen School 2023, studying robot-assisted feeding for people with mobility impairments. Through the work, he says, he developed a greater appreciation and understanding of community-based participatory research, ensuring that his work can improve people’s lives. As a CREATE Ph.D. student, Gordon co-led a team that created a set of 11 actions a robotic arm can make to pick up nearly any food attainable by fork. To read about the project, see How an assistive-feeding robot went from picking up fruit salads to whole meals. At the UW Gordon honed in on a successful research ethos, including: "Start with the simplest solution and build complexity as the need arises."

    Ethan K. Gordon poses for the Husky100 photo series wearing a vivid purple suit and yellow shirt while cradling a stuffed UW Husky dog.

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  • Hard Mode: Accessibility, Difficulty and Joy for Gamers With Disabilities

    Video games often pose accessibility barriers to gamers with disabilities, but there is no standard method for identifying which games have barriers, what those barriers are, and whether and how they can be overcome. CREATE and Allen School Ph.D. student Jesse Martinez has been working to understand the strategies and resources gamers with disabilities regularly use when trying to identify a game to play and the challenges disabled gamers face in this process, with the hopes of advising the games industry on how better support disabled members of their audience.

    Martinez, with CREATE associate directors James Fogarty and Jon Froehlich as project advisors and co-authors, published the team's findings for the ACM CHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2024).

    Martinez will present the paper, Playing on Hard Mode: Accessibility, Difficulty and Joy in Video Game Adoption for Gamers With Disabilities, virtually at the hybrid conference, and will present it in person at UW DUB's upcoming para.chi.dub event.

    Martinez’s passion for this work came from personal experience: as someone who loves playing all kinds of games, he has spent lots of time designing new ways to play games to make them accessible for himself and other friends with disabilities. He also has experience working independently as a game and puzzle designer and has consulted on accessibility for tabletop gaming studio Exploding Kittens, giving him a unique perspective on how game designers create games and how disabled gamers hack them.

    First, understand the game adoption process

    The work focuses on the process of “Game Adoption”, which includes everything from learning about a new game (game discovery), learning about it to see if it’s a good fit for one’s taste and access needs (game evaluation), and getting set up with the game and making any modifications necessary to improve the overall experience (game adaptation). As Martinez notes in the paper, gamers with disabilities already do work to make gaming more accessible, so it’s very important not to overlook this work when designing new solutions.

    To explore this topic, Martinez interviewed 13 people with a range of disabilities and very different sets of access needs. In the interviews, they discussed what each person’s unique game adoption process looked like, where they encountered challenges, and how they would want to see things change to better support their process.

    Graphic from the research paper showing the progression from Discovery (finding a game to play), to Evaluation (assessing a game's fit), to Adaptation (getting set up with a game).

    Game discovery

    In discussing game discovery, the team found that social relationships and online disabled gaming communities were the most valuable resource for learning about new games. Game announcements often don’t come with promises of being accessible. But if a friend suggested a game, it often meant the friend had already considered whether the game had a chance of being accessible. Participants also mentioned that since there is no equivalent to a games store for accessible games, it was sometimes hard to learn about new games. In their recommendations, Martinez suggests game distributors like Steam and Xbox work to support this type of casual browsing of accessible games.

    Game evaluation

    In discussing game evaluation, the team found that community-created game videos on platforms like YouTube and Twitch were useful for making accessibility judgments. Interestingly, the videos didn’t need to be accessibility-focused, since just seeing how the game worked was useful information. One participant in the study highlights the accessibility options menus in their Twitch streams, and asks streamers to do likewise, since this information can be tricky to find online.

    Game adaptation

    Martinez and team discovered many different approaches people took to make a game accessible to them, starting with enabling accessibility features like captions or getting the game to work with their screen reader. Some participants designed their own special tools to make the system work, such as a 3D-printed wrist mount for a gaming mouse. Participants shared that difficulty levels in a game are very important accessibility resources, especially when inaccessibility in the game already made things harder.

    The important thing is that players be allowed to choose what challenges they want to face, rather than being forced to play on “hard mode” if they don’t want to.

    Other participants discussed how they change their own playstyle to make the game accessible, such as playing as a character who fights with a ranged weapon or who can teleport across parts of the game world. Others went even further, creating their own new objectives in the game that better suited what they wanted from their experience. This included ignoring the competitive part of the racing game Mario Kart to just casually enjoy driving around its intricate worlds, and participating in a friendly roleplaying community in GTA V where they didn’t have to worry about the game’s fast-paced missions and inaccessible challenges.

    Overcoming inaccessible games

    Martinez uses all this context to introduce two concepts to the world of human-computer interaction and accessibility research: “access difficulty” and “disabled gaming.”

    “Access difficulty” is how the authors describe the challenges created in a game specifically due to inaccessibility, which are different from the challenges a game designer intentionally creates to make the game harder. The authors emphasize that the important thing is that players be allowed to choose what challenges they actually want to face, rather than being forced to play on “hard mode” compared to nondisabled players.

    “Disabled gaming” acknowledges the particular way gamers with disabilities play games, which is often very different from how nondisabled people play games. Disabled gaming is about taking the game you’re presented and turning it into something fun however you can, regardless of whether that’s what the game designer expects or wants you to do.

    Martinez and his co-authors are very excited to share this work with the CREATE community and the world, and they encourage anyone interested in participating in a future study of disabled gaming to join the #study-recruitment channel. If you're not on CREATE's Slack, request to join.

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  • Amy Ko named ACM Distinguished Member

    March 18, 2024

    Congratulations to CREATE faculty Amy J. Ko, who has been recognized as a Distinguished Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for her work on human-centered theories of program understanding and the development of tools and learning technologies. 

    Amy J. Ko, a 40-something white/Asian woman with brown hair and black rimmed eyeglasses.

    “I'm honored to be recognized by my nominators, all of whom have been role models and mentors in my career,” said Ko, a professor in the iSchool. “It makes me want to pay their giving and caring work forward to more junior scholars across my community.” 

    Ko has made substantial contributions to researching computing education, human-computer interaction, and humanity’s struggle to understand computing and harness it for creativity, equity and justice. She is one of the editors of the newly released, open source book, Teaching Accessible Computing and has released a beta version of Wordplay, an educational programming language created particularly for adolescents with disabilities and those who are not English fluent, who have so often been left behind in learning about computing. (She invites undergraduates interested in making programming languages more playful, global, and accessible to join Wordplaypen, a community that helps design, build, and maintain Wordplay.)

    The ACM is the world’s largest computing society. It recognizes up to 10 percent of its worldwide membership as distinguished members based on their professional experience, groundbreaking achievements, and longstanding participation in computing. The ACM has three tiers of recognition: fellows, distinguished members and senior members.


    This article has been excerpted from an iSchool article.

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  • Empowering users with disabilities through customized interfaces for assistive robots

    March 15, 2024

    For people with severe physical limitations such as quadriplegia, the ability to tele-operate personal assistant robots could bring a life-enhancing level of independence and self-determination. Allen School Ph.D. candidate Vinitha Ranganeni and her advisor, CREATE faculty member Maya Cakmak, have been working to understand and meet the needs of users of assistive robots.

    This month, Ranganeni and Cakmak presented a video at the Human Robot Interaction (HRI) conference that illustrates the practical (and touching) ways deploying an assistive robot in a test household has helped Henry Evans require a bit less from his caregivers and connect to his family.

    The research was funded by NIA/NIH Phase II SBIR Grant #2R44AG072982-02 and the NIBIB Grant #1R01EB034580-01

    https://youtu.be/K2U7wwEMLDU?si=wkyZO5cX75UqCjgN
    Captioned video of Henry Evans demonstrating how he can control an assistive robot using the customized graphical user interface he co-designed with CREATE Ph.D. student/Allen School Ph.D. candidate Vinitha Ranganeni.

    Their earlier study, Evaluating Customization of Remote Tele-operation Interfaces for Assistive Robots, evaluated the usability and effectiveness of a customized, tele-operation interface for the Stretch RE2 assistive robot. The authors show that no single interface configuration satisfies all users' needs and preferences. Users perform better when using the customized interface for navigation, and the differences in preferences between participants with and without motor impairments are significant.

    Last summer, as a robotics engineering consultant for Hello Robot, Ranganeni led the development of the interface for deploying an assistive robot in a test household, that of Henry and Jane Evans. Henry was a Silicon Valley CFO when a stroke suddenly left him non-speaking and with quadriplegia. His wife Jane is one of his primary caregivers.

    The research team developed a highly customizable graphical user interface to control Stretch, a relatively simple and lightweight robot that has enough range of motion to reach from the floor to countertops.

    Work in progress, but still meaningful independence

    Stretch can’t lift heavy objects or climb stairs. Assistive robots are expensive, prone to shutting down, and the customization is still very complex and time-intensive. And, as noted in an IEEE Spectrum article about the Evans’ installation, getting the robot’s assistive autonomy to a point where it’s functional and easy to use is the biggest challenge right now. And more work needs to be done on providing simple interfaces, like voice control. 

    The article states, “Perhaps we should judge an assistive robot’s usefulness not by the tasks it can perform for a patient, but rather on what the robot represents for that patient, and for their family and caregivers. Henry and Jane’s experience shows that even a robot with limited capabilities can have an enormous impact on the user. As robots get more capable, that impact will only increase."

    In a few short weeks, Stretch made a difference for Henry Evans. “They say the last thing to die is hope. For the severely disabled, for whom miraculous medical breakthroughs don’t seem feasible in our lifetimes, robots are the best hope for significant independence,” says Henry.” 


    Collaborator, advocate, and community researcher Tyler Schrenk

    Though it has been many months since the death of Tyler Schrenk, a CREATE-funded researcher and a frequent collaborator, his impact is still felt in our collective research.

    Tyler Schrenk making a presentation at the head of a lecture room. He has brown spiky hair, a full beard, and is seated in his power wheelchair.

    Schrenk was a dedicated expert in the assistive technology field and led the way in teaching individuals and companies how to use assistive technologies to create independence. He was President & Executive Director of the Tyler Schrenk Foundation until his death in 2023. 


    Related reading:

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  • Zhang is CREATE’s Newest Apple AIML fellow

    March 18, 2024

    Congratulations to Zhuohao (Jerry) Zhang – the most recent CREATE Ph.D. student to receive an Apple Scholars in AIML PhD fellowship. The prestigious award supports students through funding, internship opportunities, and mentorship with an Apple researcher. 

    Zhang is a 3rd-year iSchool Ph.D. student advised by Prof. Jacob. O Wobbrock. His research focuses on using human-AI interactions to address real-world accessibility problems. He is particularly interested in designing and evaluating intelligent assistive technologies to make creativity tasks accessible.

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

    Zhang joins previous CREATE-advised Apple AIML fellows:

    Venkatesh Potluri (Apple AIML Ph.D. fellow 2022), advised by CREATE Director Jennifer Mankoff in the Allen School. His research makes overlooked software engineering spaces such as IOT and user interface development accessible to developers who are blind or visually impaired. His work systematically understands the accessibility gaps in these spaces and addresses them by enhancing widely used programming tools.

    Venkatesh Potluri leans toward the camera smiling with eyes cast downward

    Rachel Franz (Apple AIML Ph.D. fellow 2021) is also advised by Wobbrock in the iSchool. Her research focuses on accessible technology design and evaluation for users with functional impairments and low digital literacy. Specifically, she is focused on using AI to make virtual reality more accessible to individuals with mobility limitations.

    Rachel Franz, a woman with long blond hair and light skin, photographed in front of a rock wall.

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  • New Book: Teaching Accessible Computing

    March 14, 2024

    A new, free, and community-sourced online book helps Computer Science educators integrate accessibility topics into their classes. Teaching Accessibility provides the foundations of accessibility relevant to computer science teaching and then presents teaching methods for integrating those topics into course designs.

    From the first page of the book, a line drawing of a person hunched over a laptop with their face close to the screen which is populated by large, unreadable characters.

    The editors are Alannah Oleson, a postdoctoral scholar and co-founder at the UW Center for Learning, Computing, and Imagination (LCI), CREATE and iSchool faculty Amy Ko, and Richard Ladner, CREATE Director of Education Emeritus. You may recognize many CREATE faculty members’ research referenced throughout the guide. CREATE Director Jennifer Mankoff and CREATE Ph.D. student Avery Kelly Mack contributed a foundational chapter that advocates for teaching inclusively in addition to teaching about accessibility.

    Letting the book speak for itself

    "... we’ve designed this book as a freeopenlivingweb-first document. It’s free thanks to a National Science Foundation grant (NSF No. 2137312) that has funded our time to edit and publish the book. It’s open in that you can see and comment on the book at any time, creating community around its content. It’s living in that we expect it to regularly change and evolve as the community of people integrating accessibility into their CS courses grows and evolves. And it’s web-first in that the book is designed first and foremost as an accessible website to be read on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, rather than as a print book or PDF. This ensures that everyone can read it, but also that it can be easily changed and updated as our understandings of how to teach accessibility in CS evolve."

    Introduction by Alannah Oleson, Amy J. Ko, Richard Ladner

    "To write these chapters, we recruited some of the world’s experts on accessible computing and teaching accessible computing, giving them a platform to share both their content knowledge about how accessibility intersects with specific CS topics, but also their pedagogical content knowledge about how to teach those intersections in CS courses."

    Introduction by Alannah Oleson, Amy J. Ko, Richard Ladner

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  • CREATE AI+Accessibility Hackfest - Winter '24

    March 6, 2024 - post-event update

    The event featured invited speakers Heather Nolis, Ian Stenseng, and Shaun Kane and exciting workshops on building custom GPT and creating accessible Jupyter notebooks. See the full lineup of brainstorming, hacking, and presentation sessions.

    The 3-day hackfest attendees included those with no experience in coding or hacking, others with advanced experience in generative AI and building software or tools, and, at the center, attendees with lived experiences of disabilities who contributed their experiences and expertise to invent an accessible AI-enabled future.

    Prizes awarded

    While appreciation and congratulations go to all participants, these projects were awarded prizes:

    First place: LookLoud.ai

    Nishit Bhasin and Lakshya Garg

    LookLoud.ai is voice-activated assistance technology, powered by GPT-4 Vision, and designed to make e-commerce accessible to everyone. Users can navigate, select, and buy products using simple voice commands. 

    Second prize: AI Posture Monitor & Intervention Alerts for Home Health

    Max Smoot, Lige Yang, and Richard Li

    AI Posture Monitor & Intervention Alerts for Home Health monitors someone’s seated position to identify when they are in an at-risk posture and subsequently alerts a caretaker with recommended corrections.

    Third prize: Formflow Ai

    Abdul Hussein, Abreham Tegenge, and Aelaph Elias

    Formflow.ai reads PDFs, mail, and forms and gives an easy-to-read summarization, with the goal of helping people read and understand documents and forms. 

    Fourth place: Clearview Assist

    Dhruv Khanna, Ritika Rajpal, Minal Naik, and Menita Agarwal

    ClearView Assist is a Chrome extension designed to assist internet users with low vision or blindness by simplifying cluttered web pages based on user tasks and allowing individuals to interact with digital content via voice commands to articulate their browsing objectives.

    Fifth place: Student Success Portal

    Mia Vong, Cameron Jacob Miller, Keyvyn Rogers, and Jerid Stevenot

    Student Success Portal provides AI-powered assistance for challenges in supporting K-12 students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

    Sessions, workshops and hack time

    • Introductory session about the potential of AI for accessibility (also on Zoom)
    • Invited speaker Ian Stenseng, Director of Innovation & Accessibility at The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. (also on Zoom)
    • Brainstorming project ideas

      • Learn from community members with lived experiences of disabilities to make sure your hack is solving a real accessibility need.

    • Lunch (provided) and conversation, mentoring, team forming, idea hatching
    • Invited speaker Heather Nolis, Principal Machine Learning Engineer of the Digital AI Team and Chair of the Accessibility Community at T-Mobile (ACT) at T-Mobile (also on Zoom)
    • Optional Workshops and hack time
    • Hack time
    • Pizza dinner and opportunities to get feedback from mentors

    Saturday

    • Work time
    • Lunch (provided) and opportunity to present for feedback from mentors
    • Presentation of judging rubric
    • Invited speaker, Shaun Kane, Researcher at Google AI and Director of the Superhuman Computing Lab at University of Colorado Boulder (also on Zoom)
    • Hack time

    Sunday

    • Optional hack time
    • How to present accessibly & sample pitch presentation (also on Zoom)

    Monday

    • Presentations to judges (also on Zoom)
    • Judges deliberation
    • Announcements, prizes, and closing keynote (also on Zoom)

    Judges

    Speakers

    Ian Stenseng, Director of Innovation & Accessibility, The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.

    Ian Stenseng is the Director of Innovation & Accessibility for The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.

    For the past twelve years, Ian has been a pivotal member of the Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc., where he has used his expertise in technology and creativity to enhance accessibility. He has focused on making tools, equipment, technology, and the built environment more accessible for individuals who are blind, DeafBlind, or who have additional disabilities. Ian's commitment to this cause is deeply personal, stemming from his familial connection to blindness; his father, who was born prematurely, is legally blind due to retinopathy of prematurity.

    Before his tenure at the Lighthouse, Ian's career was marked by significant achievements in the IT sector, particularly with the Washington Office of the Secretary of State. There, he spearheaded special projects for the WA State Archives, working on advanced systems for the imaging, preservation, and access of historical materials. He played a key role in modernizing recording studios, establishing the first accessible computer lab at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library, and contributing to the design and rollout of the Washington State Domestic Partnership program.

    Ian resides in South Seattle with his partner, Jaime, and their twelve-year-old son, Mason. Outside of his professional life, Ian is deeply passionate about craftsmanship and loves to tinker with all things mechanical, recently building a cedar tiny home trailer in his driveway, a large format laser engraver in his home studio, and dedicating his free time to crafting fine handmade goods from leather and wood.

    Heather Nolis is a founding member of the AI @ T-Mobile team, who focused the conversion of cutting-edge analyses to real-time, scalable data-driven products. She began her career in neuroscience but once she realized how heavily that field relied on software built by other people and data analyzed by other people, she pivoted - deciding to make software herself. In addition to her role as Principal Machine Learning Engineer, she is also the chair of T-Mobile’s accessibility Employee Resource Group which has over 12,000 members.

    Shaun Kane is a research scientist in Responsible AI and Human-Centered Technology at Google Research, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research focuses on understanding emerging accessibility problems and empowering people and organizations to solve these problems. He is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and the ACM SIGACCESS Paper Impact Award. He received his Ph.D. from The Information School at the University of Washington in 2011.

    Workshops

    Though computational notebook platforms such as Jupyter are heavily used in many settings including classrooms, research, and storytelling, they are often not accessible to people with disabilities. This inaccessibility has the potential to exclude people with disabilities from educational, employment, and other information-seeking opportunities. Join us for a two-hour workshop to learn about the inaccessibility of notebooks and gain skills to author accessible notebooks. This workshop does not require or expect expertise in programming or accessibility to participate. All you need is a computer and the curiosity to understand what notebook accessibility is all about.

    About the organizers

    Tonyfast is a freelance developer, designer, and scientist with significant experience in open source and science software. They are a distinguished project jupyter contributor advocating for equity in computational literacy and digital accessibility in open science technologies.

    Venkatesh Potluri is a graduating Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Washington. He investigates the inaccessibility of developer tools for blind and visually impaired developers  participating in professional programming domains like data science and user interface design. He builds real-world systems and demonstrates new ideas to improve the accessibility of widely used developer tools.

    Welcome to "Intro to GAI, GPTs, and More!", an interactive workshop designed for beginners and enthusiasts eager to dive into the world of Generative Pre-trained Transformers (GPTs). We will explore ways to build Generative AI (GAI) tools at a range of coding skill levels, ranging from no-code GPTs to a quick introduction of the OpenAI API. As the demand for AI and machine learning solutions continues to grow, the ability to leverage these technologies becomes increasingly valuable. This workshop aims to demystify GPT/GAI and make it approachable through a practical, no-code approach.

    Exploring GPTs Without Coding: Learn about no-code platforms and tools that allow you to interact with GPT models. Discover how to use these tools for a variety of applications, including content generation, data analysis, and creative projects, without writing a single line of code.

    Hands-On Demonstrations of OpenAI API: Follow along to an introductory lesson on how to get started with the OpenAI API.

    About the organizer

    Kate Glazko is a first year Ph.D. student at the University of Washington. Kate is passionate about AI and accessibility and learning about all the ways in which emerging forms of AI like GPT, Midjourney, and more can help or hinder access in areas such as employment, creativity, and making. Prior to UW, Kate spent 6 years in the tech industry working in roles such as android engineer, IoT engineer, and product manager.

    Brainstorming ideas

    Relevant topics will be driven by community needs to increase access to technology, and to the world through technology. These topics could include, for example:

    • AI’s use for generating plain language summaries of rights
    • Accessibility of AI tools and interfaces
    • Using AI to increase the accessibility of written and visual content
    • Robotic control for access
    • Tools for designing accessible physical objects
    • Using AI to get feedback on the accessibility of things you’re making
    • AI for embodied agent interactions
    • AI applications for health and wellbeing
    • Modalities for human/generative AI interactions such as voice or touch
    • Guidelines or ideas around agents that that may be used for accessibility
    • What disability simulation might look like in the age of AI agents
    • Best practices and pitfalls

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  • DUB hosts para.chi event

    March 1, 2024

    Para.chi is a worldwide parallel event to CHI ’24 for those unable or unwilling to join CHI ‘24. UW Design. Use. Build. (DUB) is hosting para.chi.dub with members of the DUB team–and maybe you.

    • Live session for accepted virtual papers
    • Networking opportunities
    • Accessibility for students and early career researchers locally and online

    Wednesday, May 8, 2024 
    Hybrid event: Seattle location to be announced and virtual info shared upon registration
    Presenter applications due March 15 
    Register to attend by Monday, April 1.

    Do you have a virtual paper and wish to get feedback from a live audience? Perhaps you have a journal paper accepted to an HCI venue and wish to present it live? Then consider joining us!

    Note that presenter space is somewhat limited. Decisions about how to distribute poster, presenter, and hybrid opportunities will be made after March 15.

    Seattle and beyond

    Each regional team is offering a different event, from mini-conferences to virtual paper sessions to mentoring and networking events. 

    Learn more:

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  • Three Myths and Three Actions: “Accommodating” Disabled Students

    CREATE Ph.D. students Kelly Avery Mack and Ather Sharif, along with Lucille Njoo, share three common myths about students with disabilities. They reveal the reality of their inequitable experience as grad students at UW, and propose a few potential solutions to begin ameliorating this reality, both at our university and beyond.

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  • Wheels in motion: Improving mobility technologies for children

    February 28, 2024

    Being able to easily get from the house to the playground affects how long and how often children use an adapted ride-on car, according to a study, Off to the park: a geospatial investigation of adapted ride-on car usage, published by CREATE Ph.D. student Mia Hoffman with CREATE associate director Heather A. Feldner, who is the lead researcher on the project. Their research demonstrates the importance of accessibility in the built environment and that advocating for environmental accessibility should include both the indoors and outdoors.

    Two children ride in small toy cars, one of which has an adapted steering wheel to make it accessible for the child to use.

    For a recent study, adapted ride-on cars were provided to 14 families with young children in locations across Western Washington. Photo courtesy of Heather Feldner.

    Ride-on cars are miniature toy cars for children with steering wheels and a battery-powered pedal. Adapted ride-on cars are an easy-to-use temporary solution for children with mobility issues. Although wheelchairs have more finite control, insurance typically covers new wheelchairs every five years. Children under age 5 can use adapted ride-on cars to explore their surroundings if they outgrow their wheelchair, or if they aren’t able to be in a wheelchair yet.

    Exploration is critical to language, social and physical development. There are big benefits when a child starts moving.

    Mia Hoffman, CREATE Ph.D. student

    “Adapted ride-on cars allow children to explore by themselves,” says Mia Hoffman, the Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering who co-authored the paper published in fall 2023. “Exploration is critical to language, social and physical development. There are big benefits when a child starts moving.”

    The researchers adapted the ride-on cars to make them more accessible. Instead of a foot pedal, children might start the car with a different option that’s accessible to them, such as a large button or a sip-and-puff, which is a pneumatic device that would respond to air being blown into it. Researchers added additional structural supports to the device, such as a backrest made out of kickboards or PVC side-supports.

    Adapted ride-on cars were provided to 14 families with young children in locations across Western Washington. Heather Feldner, an assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and adjunct assistant professor in ME, trained families on how to use the cars. The families then spent a year playing with the cars. Each car had an integrated data logger that tracked how often the child pressed the switch to move the car, and GPS data indicated how far they traveled.

    The study found that most play sessions occurred indoors, underscoring the importance of indoor accessibility for children’s mobility technology. However, children used the car longer outdoors, and identifying an accessible route increased the frequency and duration of outside play sessions. Study participants drove outdoors more often in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, measured by researchers with the Walk Score, and when close to accessible paths, measured by Project Sidewalk’s AccessScore.

    “Families can sometimes be uncertain about introducing powered mobility for their children in these early stages of development,” says Feldner. “But ride-on cars and other small devices designed for kids open up so many opportunities — from experiencing the joy of mobility, learning more about the world around them, enjoying social time with family and friends in new environments, and working on developmental skills. We want to work with kids and families to show them what is possible with these devices, listen to their needs and ideas, and continue working to ensure that both our technology designs and our community environments are accessible and available for all.”

    Exploring different mobility devices

    Heather Feldner and Mia Hoffman stand next to their poster board about adapted ride-on cars research at a conference.

    As a graduate student, Hoffman conducts research on children ages 3 and under who might crawl, roll, sit up, or cruise in a power mobility device. Besides processing sensor data and other data analysis, Hoffman’s work also involves getting to know families, “playing with a lot of toys, singing, and entertaining kids,” she jokes.

    Research involving pediatrics and accessibility like the adapted ride-on cars study is why Hoffman joined the Steele Lab. She became interested in biomechanics in sixth grade, when she learned that working on engineering and medical design was possible. As an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, Hoffman studied brain biomechanics, computational design and assistive technology. She worked on projects such as analyzing the morphology of monkey brains and creating 3D-printed prosthetic hands for children.

    After connecting with Feldner and Kat Steele, Albert Kobayashi Professor in Mechanical Engineering and CREATE associate director, Hoffman realized that the Steele Lab, which often collaborates with UW Medicine, was the perfect fit.

    Hoffman is currently working on research with Feldner and Steele that compares children’s usage of a commercial pediatric powered mobility device to their usage of adapted ride-on cars in the community environment. Next, Hoffman will conduct one of the first comparative studies about how using supported mobility in the form of a partial body weight support system or using a powered wheelchair affects children’s exploration patterns. The study involves children with Down Syndrome, who often have delayed motor development and who are underrepresented in mobility research.

    There can be stigma associated with using a wheelchair instead of a walker or another mobility device that may help with motor development, but Hoffman says the study could demonstrate that both are important.

    “The goal is to show that children can simultaneously work on motor gains while using powered wheelchairs or other mobility devices to explore their environment,” she says.

    “Our hope is for kids to just be kids,” says Hoffman. “We want them to be mobile and experience life at the same time as their peers. It’s about meeting a kid where they’re at and supporting them so that they can move around and play with their friends and family.”


    This article was excerpted from an article written by Lyra Fontaine for Mechanical Engineering.

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  • Joshua Miele: Driving Accessibility through Open Source

    February 15, 2024

    Formally, Dr. Joshua Miele describes himself as a blind scientist, designer, performance artist and disability activist who is focused on the overlap of technology, disability, and equity. But in his personable and humorous lecture, he listed a few more identities: Interrupter. Pain in the ass. “CAOS” promoter.

    The Allen School Distinguished Lecture took place earlier this month and is a worthwhile listen on YouTube.

    Miele’s passions are right in line with CREATE’s work and he started his lecture, after being introduced by CREATE Director Jennifer Mankoff, with a compliment we heartily accept: “This community at the University of Washington is one of the largest, one of the most vibrant communities of people thinking and working around disability, accessibility, and technology.”

    Miele shared his enthusiasm for disability-inclusive design and its impact on global disability equity and inclusion. Drawing on examples and counterexamples from his own life and career, Dr. Miele described some of the friction the accessibility field has faced and speculated about what challenges may lie ahead, with particular emphasis on the centrality of user-centered practices, and the exhilarating potential of open source solutions and communities.

    When he received the MacArthur grant, Miele had to decide what to do with the spotlight on his work. He shared his hopes for a Center for Accessibility and Open Source (CAOS, pronounced “chaos”) to promote global digital equity for people with disabilities through making low-cost accessible tools available to everyone, whether they have financial resources or not. He invited anyone interested in global equity, disability, direct action, performance art, and CAOS/chaos to reach out to work together on this incredibly important work.

    More about Miele and the lecture

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  • Alice Wong and Patty Berne: Two UW lectures moderated by CREATE researchers

    January 29, 2024

    Winter 2024 quarter kicked off with two outstanding conversations with women of color who are leaders in disability justice.

    Alice Wong: Raising the visibility of disabled people

    First, Alice Wong discussed topics important to her work in raising the visibility of disabled people. Wong’s book Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life was the topic of the Autumn 2023 CREATE Accessibility Seminar.

    CREATE Director Jennifer Mankoff started the conversation asking Wong about her experience as a disabled person in academia and what needs to change. Wong said her work in disability justice was inspired in part by the “incredible amount of emotion and physical labor to ask for equal access” in academic settings. She had to spend precious time, money and energy to gain the accommodations and access she needed to succeed. But she realized that as soon as she transitioned out, her efforts would be lost and the next student would have to start over to prove their need and request a new set of accommodations. Wong was doubtful that large academic institutions can support the goal of collective liberation. It’s the “dog-eat-dog world [of] academia where the competition is stiff and everyone is pushed to their limits to produce and be valuable.” She encouraged instructors to incorporate books about disability justice in their syllabi (see the reading list below). 

    Wong, who spoke with a text-to-voice tool and added emphasis with her facial expressions on the screen, also addressed the value and the limitations of assistive technology. She noted that the text-to-speech app she uses does not convey her personality. She also discussed how ableism appears in activist discourse.

    One of her examples was a debate over gig economy delivery services, which are enormously important for many people with disabilities and that also under-compensate delivery work. She noted that blaming disabled people for undermining efforts for better wages was not the solution; collective efforts to make corporations compensate workers is the solution. She also explained that hashtag activism, which has been disparaged in popular discourse, is a crucial method for disabled people to participate in social justice activism. And she discussed her outrage when, as she prepared to give a talk to a public health school, her own access needs were used to censor her. Throughout her talk, Wong returned again and again to the principles of disability justice, and encouraged attendees to engage in collective forms of change.

    Wong’s responses embodied a key component of disability justice principles: citational practices that name fellow contributors to collective disability justice wisdom. Her long list of recommended reading for the audience inspired us to build our new RDT reading list. Wong referenced Patty Berne several times, calling Berne her introduction to disability justice.

    Patty Berne on disability justice: Centering intersectionality and liberation

    A week later, two CREATE Ph.D. students, Aashaka Desai and Aaleyah Lewis, moderated a conversation with Patty Berne. Berne, who identifies as a Japanese-Haitian queer disabled woman, co-founded Sins Invalid, a disability justice-based arts project focusing on disabled artists of color and queer and gender non-conforming artists with disabilities. Berne defined disability justice as advocating for each other, understanding access needs, and normalizing those needs. On the topic of climate justice, she noted that state-sponsored disaster planning often overlooks the needs of people with motor impairments or life-sustaining medical equipment. This is where intersectional communities do, and should, take care of each other when disaster strikes.

    Berne addressed language justice within the disability community, noting that “we don’t ‘language’ like able-bodied people.” For example, the use of ventilators and augmented speech technology change the cadence of speech. Berne wants to normalize access needs for a more inclusive experience of everyday life. Watch the full conversation on YouTube.

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  • Ben Taskar Memorial Event

    January 26, 2024

    In January 2024, the CREATE community was invited to participate in the Taskar Center's 2024 Annual Ben Taskar Memorial Event, themed "Transportation and Responsible AI."

    Sessions

    Project Poster Viewing and Team Discussions

    Explore innovative projects from the course on "Responsible Data Science in Urban Spaces" under the guidance of Anat Caspi, TCAT director, contributing to Dr. Caspi's recent Human Rights Education Award.

    Community Townhall Meeting with Dragomir Anguelov

    oin us for a captivating discussion with Dragomir Anguelov, VP and Head of Research at Waymo, as he shares Waymo's insights into operating an autonomous ride-share fleet, covering over 7 million miles. The session, moderated by Anat Caspi, focuses on responsible AI in transportation. (This session will not be recorded and not available to remote participants.)

    Spotlight on AccessMap Multimodal

    Discover the latest advancements in accessible transportation with a spotlight on the recent deployment of AccessMap Multimodal. The session will highlight the personalized trip planner for travelers with disabilities and provide insights into the user experience, including the use of screen readers.

    Ben Taskar Memorial Distinguished Lecture:
    Dragomir Anguelov: Toward Total Scene Understanding for Autonomous Driving

    In this engaging lecture, Drago Anguelov will delve into recent Waymo research on performant ML models and architectures that handle the variety and complexity of real-world environments in autonomous driving. He will also discuss the impact of progress in building Autonomous Driving agents on people with disabilities and explore current open questions about enhancing embodied AI agent capabilities with ML.

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  • Anat Caspi receives Human Rights Educator Award

    Congratulations to Anat Caspi on receiving the 2023 Human Rights Education Award from the Seattle Human Rights Commission!

    Caspi, a CREATE associate director and the founder and director of the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology, thanked the commission for recognition of her individual dedication and emphasized that it also celebrates the collective efforts of the Taskar Center community.

    You can watch as Olivia Quesada accepts the award on Caspi's behalf at the ceremony.

    Olivia Quesada stands at a podium to accept the 2023 Human Rights Educator Award for Anat Caspi whose photo is shown on a large screen in the background.

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  • CREATE Welcomes Dr. Olivia Banner!

    January 2, 2024

    Olivia Banner, a white woman with a warm smile and smiling eyes.

    In her role as CREATE’s Director of Strategy and Operations, Olivia Banner, Ph.D., will help develop and oversee organizational strategy, design and implement new programs, manage center operations, and help ensure a sustainable trajectory of high quality work in service of the CREATE’s core mission. 

    Banner is a disabled author and educator who has taught courses on disability, technology, and media. She comes to Seattle and the UW from the University of Texas at Dallas, where she was an associate professor of Critical Media Studies. She is the author of Communicative Biocapitalism: The Voice of the Patient in Digital Health and the Health Humanities. Her new book about technology, psychiatry, and practices of mutual care is forthcoming with Duke University Press. Her research has been published in Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, TechnoscienceLiterature and Medicine and is forthcoming in Disability Studies Quarterly.  

    “Her principles and commitment to intersectional work caught our attention in our conversations about the new role. We are so lucky to have her joining CREATE!”

    Jennifer Mankoff, CREATE Director

    Banner says she looks forward to integrating disability principles into projects with tangible effects on disabled peoples’ lives, including AI + Accessibility, integrating disabled perspectives into projects, and race, technology, and disability—which align with Banner’s previous academic work. She is personally invested in fostering just technological futures through collaborative work and is very excited about the Center’s aim of expanding access through community partnerships.

    CREATE Director Jennifer Mankoff is equally excited about the vision Banner brings for CREATE's future, her policy experience, her administrative skills, and her commitment to amplifying the voices of those she serves. “Her principles and commitment to intersectional work caught our attention in our conversations about the new role. We are so lucky to have her joining CREATE!” says Mankoff.

    In her research, scholarship, and teaching, Banner has centered disability knowledge as a method for envisioning technological futures. Her work extends to multiple collaborative projects, including co-teaching a seminar on surveillance with a computer science professor, serving on a Lancet-sponsored commission developing policies for global digital health development, and co-directing Social Practice & Community Engagement Media, a lab that used low-tech methods to reimagine campus practices of care. Toward the goal of improving access on the UT Dallas campus, Banner conducted critical access mapping projects, led Teach-Ins and workshops on disability and equity and on accessible course design, and served on the University Accessibility Committee.

    Having served as managing editor of an academic journal and as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for her School, she also brings professional experience working with faculty, students, staff, and community members from varied disciplines and professions, and anticipates generative conversations on the horizon. She joins CREATE eager to support and enhance its visions of accessible and equitable technology.

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  • ARTennis attempts to help low vision players

    December 16, 2023

    People with low vision (LV) have had fewer options for physical activity, particularly in competitive sports such as tennis and soccer that involve fast, continuously moving elements such as balls and players. A group of researchers from CREATE associate director Jon E. Froehlich's Makeability Lab hopes to overcome this challenge by enabling LV individuals to participate in ball-based sports using real-time computer vision (CV) and wearable augmented reality (AR) headsets. Their initial focus has been on tennis.

    The team includes Jaewook Lee (Ph.D. student, UW CSE), Devesh P. Sarda (MS/Ph.D. student, University of Wisconsin), Eujean Lee (Research Assistant, UW Makeability Lab), Amy Seunghyun Lee (BS student, UC Davis), Jun Wang (BS student, UW CSE), Adrian Rodriguez (Ph.D. student, UW HCDE), and Jon Froehlich.

    Their paper, Towards Real-time Computer Vision and Augmented Reality to Support Low Vision Sports: A Demonstration of ARTennis was published in the 2023 ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST).

    ARTennis is their prototype system capable of tracking and enhancing the visual saliency of tennis balls from a first-person point-of-view (POV). Recent advancements in deep learning have led to models like TrackNet, a neural network capable of tracking tennis balls in third-person recordings of tennis games that is used to improve sports viewing for LV people. To enhance playability, the team first built a dataset of first-person POV images by having the authors wear an AR headset and play tennis. They then streamed video from a pair of AR glasses to a back-end server, analyzed the frames using a custom-trained deep learning model, and sent back the results for real-time overlaid visualization.

    After a brainstorming session with an LV research team member, the team added visualization improvements to enhance the ball’s color contrast and add a crosshair in real-time.

    Early evaluations have provided feedback that the prototype could help LV people enjoy ball-based sports but there's plenty of further work to be done. A larger field-of-view (FOV) and audio cues would improve a player's ability to track the ball. The weight and bulk of the headset, in addition to its expense are also factors the team expects to improve with time, as Lee noted in an interview on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

    "Wearable AR devices such as the Microsoft HoloLens 2 hold immense potential in non-intrusively improving accessibility of everyday tasks. I view AR glasses as a technology that can enable continuous computer vision, which can empower BLV individuals to participate in day-to-day tasks, from sports to cooking. The Makeability Lab team and I hope to continue exploring this space to improve the accessibility of popular sports, such as tennis and basketball."

    Jaewook Lee, Ph.D. student and lead author

    Ph.D. student Jaewook Lee presents a research poster, Makeability Lab Demos - GazePointAR & ARTennis.

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