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  • Gatzert Child Welfare Fellowship for Reham Abuatiq

    10:06 pm

    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!

    4:45 pm

    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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  • Zhang is CREATE’s Newest Apple AIML fellow

    2:00 am

    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

    7:44 pm

    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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  • DUB hosts para.chi event

    5:15 pm

    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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