Jacob O. Wobbrock, Founding Co-Director

My research seeks to scientifically understand people’s experiences of computers and information, and to improve those experiences through design and engineering, especially for people with disabilities. My specific research topics include input & interaction techniques, human performance measurement & modeling, HCI research & design methods, mobile computing, and accessible computing.


Professor, The Information School

Adjunct Professor, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering

Director, ACE Lab

Research highlights

Slide Rule

A project that invented the world’s first touch-based finger-driven screen reader for smartphones. The interaction techniques employed by Slide Rule influenced Apple in their creation of VoiceOver, their built-in smartphone screen reader, and subsequently TalkBack on Android. Developed from 2007-2008, today Slide Rule has directly influenced products shipping on billions of touch devices. This work was recently honored for its impact.

Ability-Based Design

A new design approach developed from 2008-2020 that emphasizes what people can do and seeks to tailor technologies to people’s specific abilities through adaptation, customization, and ability-focused design practice. Interfaces that adapt to their users’ abilities, touch recognizers that model their users’ touch behaviors, and mouse cursors that dynamically adapt their speeds to make pointing more accurate were all projects that came from, and informed, ability-based design, whose 2018 Communications of the ACM article has been influential at major companies, including Microsoft.

Accessible Input Techniques

Mouse pointing and text entry are still the most fundamental inputs we give desktop and laptop computing systems, but for many users, these bedrock input capabilities are still inaccessible. Since my own doctoral research from 2001-2006, I have been inventing and evaluating more accessible means of providing input to computing systems. For example, my EdgeWrite technology provided more accessible text input using handheld devices, wheelchair joysticks, touchpads, and trackballs. Recently, my Pointing Magnifier 2 software, originally a research project with Leah Findlater, provides a cursor replacement on Microsoft Windows that has been useful to people with motor or visual impairments, older adults, and graphic designers.

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