Jennifer Mankoff, Director

My research focuses on accessibility broadly speaking.  In doing this work, I emphasize values such as intersectionality, and perspectives such as disability studies. For example, in the domain of DHH technology I am exploring how people who are multilingual engage with communication technology. Another focus of my work is creating general tools so that anyone can use tools such as 3D printing, knitting, and other fabrication technologies. I have led the effort to better understand both clinical and DIY stakeholders’ use of fabrication technologies, and developed better, more usable tools for production. Together, these can enhance the capabilities and participation of all users in today’s manufacturing revolution.

Affiliations

Richard E. Ladner ProfessorPaul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering

Director, Make4all Lab

Research highlights

AI and Accessibility

With the recent rapid rise in Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) tools, it is imperative that we understand their impact on people with disabilities, both positive and negative. However, although we know that AI in general poses both risks and opportunities for people with disabilities, little is known specifically about GAI in particular. We are exploring AI’s use by people with disabilities, and its value in addressing a wide variety of problems from text simplification to fabrication.

Better understanding of clinical and DIY accessible technology production

The advent of consumer-grade fabrication technology, most notably low-cost 3D printing, has opened the door to increasing power and participation in do-it-yourself and do-for-others accessible technology production. However, such production faces challenges not only at the level of process and policy, but with respect to materials, design tools, and follow-up. As summarized in a 2019 Communications of The ACM article, Mankoff has led the effort to better understand both clinical and DIY stakeholders in this process, and developed better, more usable tools for production. Together, these can enhance the capabilities and participation of all users in today’s manufacturing revolution.

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Mark Harniss, Director for Education

My research focuses on knowledge translation, assistive technology, and accessible design. I teach in both the Disability Studies Program and the Rehabilitation Medicine doctoral program with an emphasis on knowledge translation and disability policy.

I lead projects focused on developing decision aids to support people with disabilities to request reasonable accommodations and on developing an accommodation expert support system for people who are aging.

Affiliations

Associate Professor, Rehabilitation Medicine

Director, Center for Technology and Disability Studies 

Director, UW Disability Studies Program

In his role as CREATE Director for Education, Mark aims to foster collaboration and cooperation between UW “upper and lower campus,” particularly by forging connections between CREATE, the Disability Studies Program, the Institute on Human Development and Disability (IHDD), and the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. Additionally, he intends to expand CREATE’s reach by establishing links with important external communities, ensuring that the innovations generated within CREATE are available to these communities. In turn, he envisions that these communities will provide valuable insights to CREATE researchers regarding their specific needs.

Anat Caspi, Associate Director

The CREATE community thanks Dr. Anat Caspi for three years of leadership as one of our founders and CREATE’s inaugural Director of Translation. Caspi defined and elevated CREATE’s translation efforts, leveraging the center’s relationships with partners in industry, disability communities, and academia. Her leadership created sustainable models for translation and built on our prior successes. Collaborations with the TASKAR centerHuskyADAPT, and the UW Disability Studies Program have ensured diverse voices to inform innovation. 

I am interested in exploring ways in which collaborative commons and cooperation can challenge and transform the current economics of assistive technology and incentivize rapid development and deployment of ethically built accessible technologies. My research focuses on engineering machine intelligent solutions for customizable real-time, responsive technologies in the context of work, play and urban street environments.

Affiliations

Affiliate Assistant Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Director and co-founder, Taskar Center for Accessible Technology

Research highlights

Equity in Transportation Data

All travelers want directions they can trust, but most maps and automated pedestrian routers do not have the data travelers with accessibility requirements need. When we built AccessMap, a personalized, automated pedestrian routing application that takes mobility limitations into consideration, it was clear that municipalities and agencies have not been effective in collecting and maintaining detailed pedestrian-centric map information. Users of AccessMap, currently served in Seattle, Bellingham, and Mt. Vernon, have made it clear with over 35,000 routing requests that people of all abilities require better mobility apps that provide customized information about the pedestrian environment. To scale our efforts, we created the OpenSidewalks data standard along with understandable tools for gathering sidewalk network data, focusing on (1) tools for individual citizen-scientist data entry (2) mass import tools for municipal datasets, and (3) automated computer vision pipelines to map geo-located videos. Our standard and methods for effective data exchange and sharing were recently adopted by King County Metro, Sound Transit, and MVTransit Inc, the largest paratransit operator company with worldwide presence.

The Taskar Center for Accessible Technology (TCAT)

An initiative co-founded by Anat Caspi at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering to develop, translate and deploy open source, accessible technologies, with a focus on benefiting individuals with motor limitations or speech impairments. TCAT’s translation efforts promote collaborative use of data commons and shared community resources with the recognition that bringing novel accessible technologies to users requires challenging the traditional technology-transfer path. With our partners, we launched the first assistive technology and adapted toy lending library in the Pacific Northwest, serving physical technologies and online resources for others to replicate. Over the past 5 years, TCAT has engaged more than 200 undergraduate and 50 graduate design and engineering students in participatory design and inclusive design practices with our communities of practice, bringing together people of diverse abilities, backgrounds and skill sets towards a common goal of designing for the fullness of human abilities and experiences


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Richard Ladner, Associate Director

The CREATE community thanks Professor Emeritus Richard Ladner for three years of leadership as one of our founders and CREATE’s inaugural Education Director. Ladner initiated the CREATE Student Minigrant Program that helps fund small grants up to $2,000 in support of student initiated research projects. He has shepherded 10 minigrants and worked directly with eight Teach Access Study Away students. Through his AccessComputing program, he helped fund several summer research internships for undergraduate students working with CREATE faculty. All CREATE faculty contribute to accessibility related education in their courses, where he provides encouragement.

I am interested in accessibility technology research, especially technology for deaf, deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing, and blind people. Active in promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in computing fields, I am the Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation funded AccessComputing and AccessCSforAll.

Affiliations

Professor Emeritus, Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering

Principal Investigator, AccessComputing

Principal Investigator, AccessCSforAll

Research highlights

ASL-STEM Forum

ASL-STEM Forum is a website for scientists who know American Sign Language (ASL) to upload signs for terms in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. These signs can be used by teachers, interpreters and other professionals in need of knowledge about how to sign a particular STEM term. Since 2010 more than 3000 signs have been uploaded with more than 1.3  million views on YouTube.

Perkinput

Perkinput is a non-visual text entry method for touchscreens based on Braille developed by Shiri Azenkot, a student of Richard Ladner and Jacob Wobbrock.  The method does not use specific targets but tracks fingers as they type six-dot Braille characters on the screen. Braille can be input with one hand on a small touchscreen or with two hands on a larger touchscreen.  In studies users can type up to 17 words per minute with one hand and 37 words per minute with two hands with high accuracy.  Braille-based text entry is now common on touchscreen devices.

Blocks4All

Blocks4All is an accessible block-based programming environment for young children developed by Lauren Milne, a student of Richard Ladner.  Block-based programming environments like Scratch, Alice, and many others are the most popular for young children to learn computing concepts such as conditional and loops.  Unfortunately, none of these environments are accessible to young screen reader users. Blocks4All is the first block-based programming environment for touchscreen devices that is fully accessible.

AccessComputing

AccessComputing is a National Science Foundation program, founded in 2006 and centered at the University Washington, with the goal of increasing the participation and success of individuals with disabilities in computing fields. It is a joint project with the Allen School, Information School, and the DO-IT center.  To date, it has served more than one thousand students across the United States providing professional development, peer mentoring, industry and research internships, and funding for travel to conferences.  With its 65+ academic, organizational, and industry partners, it has also focused on institutional change, influencing computing departments, organizations, and companies to make sure they are welcoming and accessible to people with disabilities.  


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Heather Feldner, Associate Director

My focus is on advancing participation and health together with people with disabilities and their families by exploring the intersections between mobility, disability, and technology in a variety of personal and environmental contexts. My research centers on the design and implementation of mobility assistive technology, including how perceptions of disability and identity emerge and evolve through technology use.

Affiliations

Assistant Professor, UW Medicine Rehabilitation Medicine: Physical Therapy

Core Faculty, Disability Studies

Affiliate Faculty, Center for Technology and Disability Studies

Director, IMPACT Collaboratory

Research highlights

Rethinking Mobility Technology for Children with Disabilities

Early in her research career, Heather began challenging her colleagues in rehabilitation medicine and rehabilitation engineering to envision a paradigm shift in how pediatric mobility technology is conceptualized, designed, and implemented for children with disabilities and their families. Drawing on her background in Disability Studies, which examines how the construct of disability is understood in society across multiple contexts, this work underscores the barriers and facilitators of participation for children who use mobility technology. It provides a roadmap for clinicians, engineers, and caregivers to advocate for policy change, improve pediatric mobility technology design, and understand how historical perceptions of disability and assistive technology often serve to perpetuate exclusion and discrimination of children despite legislation protecting individuals’ rights to mobility and technology.

Go Baby Go

A multidisciplinary, grassroots movement of research, education, and community outreach that involves making safety and accessibility modifications to off-the-shelf, battery powered toy ride-on cars so they are accessible to young children with disabilities as an early form of self-initiated mobility and social exploration. Heather has started two Go Baby Go Chapters in Chicago, IL and Seattle, WA, has modified over 500 cars at no cost for children with disabilities and their families as well as rehabilitation clinics across the country, and has taught over 20 workshops and continuing education courses about multidisciplinary collaboration and innovation to reduce mobility disparities in children with disabilities. Heather continues to do Go Baby Go research and outreach, and together with her Seattle chapter co-founder and fellow UW colleague, she is currently re-launching the chapter as a UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine supported program.

HuskyADAPT (Accessible Design and Play Technology)

As a postdoctoral researcher in the UW Department of Mechanical Engineering, and together with center leaders Anat Caspi and Kat Steele and other faculty and graduate students, Heather helped to found HuskyADAPT in 2017. HuskyADAPT is focused on accessible and inclusive design, and supports formal coursework, informal design teams in partnership with local community organizations, and outreach opportunities for UW students and faculty across campus, including K-12 STEAM education modules for underrepresented minority students. Current HuskyADAPT partners include:

  • Outdoors for All
  • The Experience Fitness Project
  • Special Olympics Seattle
  • Seattle Public Libraries
  • Microsoft Accessibility
  • The UW Experimental Education Unit (early education program for preschool students with diverse abilities)
  • adult and pediatric rehabilitation facilities
  • K-12 education programs.

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Leah Findlater, Associate Director

I am interested in how to create technologies that adapt to accommodate individual user needs and preferences, whether to improve basic interactions such as touchscreen text entry or more complex tasks such as working with machine learning models. My research goal is to ensure that the next generation of computing technologies are designed to meet the needs of the broadest range of users.

Affiliations:

Associate Professor, Human Centered Design & Engineering

Adjunct Associate Professor, Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering

Director, Inclusive Design Lab

Research highlights

Expanding voice-based interaction

Over the past few years, conversational voice assistants (VAs) such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have become ubiquitous. We have shown that VAs offer tremendous potential to support equal access to information, particularly for blind and low vision users: they are inherently accessible regardless of vision level and, as novice tools, they offer an approachable introduction to audio-based interaction for people unfamiliar with screen readers. However, VAs currently support only a limited set of tasks. In collaboration with researchers at Microsoft, we are investigating how to combine the strengths of screen readers–powerful expert tools–with the approachability of VA interaction. An example is our VERSE web search tool.

Real-time captioning and sound awareness support

With advances in wearable computing and machine learning, Jon Froehlich and I have been investigating new opportunities for real-time captioning and sound awareness support for people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH). Our work spans three primary areas: real-time captioning in augmented reality and wearables (ARCaptions), sound awareness support in the “smart home” (HomeSound), and real-time sound identification on smart watches (SoundWatch, website forthcoming). Throughout this work, we’ve engaged with over 250 DHH participants to help identify design opportunities, pain points, and to solicit feedback on our designs.


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James Fogarty, Associate Director

My broad research interests are in Human-Computer Interaction, User Interface Software and Technology, and Ubiquitous Computing. My focus is on developing, deploying, and evaluating new approaches to the human obstacles surrounding widespread everyday adoption of ubiquitous sensing and intelligent computing technologies.

Affiliations

Professor, Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering

Research highlights

Large-Scale Android Accessibility Analyses

Fogarty’s research group is leading the largest-known open analyses of the accessibility of Android apps, thus providing new understanding of the current state of mobile accessibility and new insights into factors in the ecosystem that contribute to accessibility failures (ASSETS 2017, ASSETS 2018, TACCESS 2020). For example, our analyses found that 45% of apps are missing screenreader labels for more than 90% of their image-based buttons, leaving much of the functionality of those apps inaccessible to many people. Such results also highlight that pervasive accessibility failures require continued research and new approaches to addressing contributing factors in the technology ecosystem. Our analyses of common failure scenarios has directly led to Google improvements in the accessibility ecosystem (e.g., corrections to Android documentation code snippets that were inaccessible, thus creating many accessibility failures as such snippets were used in apps) and motivated additional research (e.g., our ongoing work on developer tools that better scaffold developer learning about how to correctly apply accessibility metadata).

Runtime Mobile Accessibility Repair and Enhancement

Fogarty’s research group is developing new techniques for runtime repair and enhancement of mobile accessibility. Key to these approaches is a new ability to support third-party runtime enhancements within Android’s security model and without requiring modification to apps (CHI 2017, UIST 2018). We have applied these approaches to accessibility repair (e.g., techniques to allow social annotation of apps with missing screenreader data), but also to enable entirely new forms of tactile accessibility enhancements (ASSETS 2018). These techniques therefore provide a research basis for both improving current accessibility and exploring new forms of future accessibility enhancements.


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Jon E. Froehlich, Associate Director

My research focuses on designing, building, and evaluating interactive technology that addresses high value social issues such as environmental sustainability, computer accessibility, and personalized health and wellness.

Affiliations

Professor, Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering

Research highlights

Semi-automatic Room Reconstruction and Accessibility Scanning

To help improve the safety and accessibility of indoor spaces, researchers and health professionals have created assessment instruments that enable homeowners and trained experts to audit and improve homes. With advances in computer vision, augmented reality (AR), and mobile sensors, new approaches are now possible. We introduce RASSAR (Room Accessibility and Safety Scanning in Augmented Reality), a new proof-of-concept prototype for semi-automatically identifying, categorizing, and localizing indoor accessibility and safety issues using LiDAR + camera data, machine learning, and AR. We present an overview of the current RASSAR prototype and a preliminary evaluation in a single home.

AI-assisted Vision for Low Vision Sports Participation

Individuals with low vision (LV) can experience vision-related challenges when participating in sports, especially those with fast-moving objects. We introduce ARTennis, a prototype for wearable augmented reality (AR) that utilizes real-time computer vision (CV) to enhance the visual saliency of tennis balls. As initial design, a red dot is placed over the tennis ball and four green arrows point at the ball, forming a crosshair. As AR and CV technologies continue to improve, we expect head-worn AR to broaden the inclusivity of sports, such as tennis and basketball.

Real-time captioning and sound awareness support

With advances in wearable computing and machine learning, Leah Findlater and I have been investigating new opportunities for real-time captioning and sound awareness support for people who are deaf/Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH). Our work spans three primary areas: real-time captioning in augmented reality and wearables (ARCaptions), sound awareness support in the “smart home” (HomeSound), and real-time sound identification on smart watches (SoundWatch, website forthcoming). Throughout this work, we’ve engaged with over 250 DHH participants to help identify design opportunities, pain points, and to solicit feedback on our designs.

Project Sidewalk

Project Sidewalk’s mission is to transform how the world’s sidewalks are mapped and assessed using crowdsourcing, machine learning, and online satellite and streetscape imagery. Working with local community groups and governmental partners, we have deployed Project Sidewalk in 20 cities across seven countries, including the US, Mexico, Ecuador, Netherlands, Switzerland, and New Zealand (with more to come). In total, Project Sidewalk users have contributed over 1.5 million data points—the largest crowdsourced sidewalk accessibility dataset in existence.


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Katherine M. Steele, Associate Director

My research focuses upon using novel computational and experimental tools to understand human movement and improve treatment and quality of life of individuals with cerebral palsy, stroke, and other neurological disorders.

My research strives to connect engineering and medicine to create solutions that can advance our understanding of human ability, but also translate research results to the clinic and daily life. 

Affiliations

Albert S. Kobayashi Endowed Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Ability & Innovation Lab

AMP Lab

HuskyADAPT and AccessEngineering

Research highlights

Ubiquitous Rehabilitation

Ubiquitous Rehabilitation seeks to develop the sensors, algorithms, and data visualization techniques required to deploy wearable technology that can reduce the burdens of rehabilitation and improve outcomes. Biomechanical principles guide the design of hardware and software that integrate rehabilitation into daily life.

Open-Orthoses

Open-Orthoses leverages advances in 3D-printing, scanning, and fabrication to build innovative hand and arm orthoses (aka exoskeletons). Multidisciplinary teams of engineers and clinicians work with individuals with disabilities to co-design customized devices, rigorously test the devices, and provide open-source designs that accelerate development.

AccessEngineering

AccessEngineering was founded in 2015 to (1) support and encourage individuals with disabilities to pursue careers in engineering, and (2) train all engineers in principles of accessible and inclusive design. This program has trained over 60 engineering faculty, facilitates communities of practice for engineering professionals with disabilities, and curates a knowledge base with over 100 articles for engineering students, faculty, and professionals.


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Jacob O. Wobbrock, Associate Director

  • CREATE Co-Director Emeritus

The CREATE community thanks Dr. Jacob O. Wobbrock for three years of leadership as one of our founders and CREATE Co-Director Emeritus. A bright idea was sparked in 2019 at Microsoft’s IdeaGen 2030 discussion panel, where Wobbrock spoke about ability-based design. Wobbrock and panel member Katherine Steele, a CREATE associate director, thought that a center could bring faculty together and make them more than the sum of their parts. He returned to Microsoft with Jennifer MankoffRichard Ladner, and Anat Caspi to pitch Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, Jenny Lay-Flurrie, to support the new center. With additional support from Microsoft President Brad Smith, the center was launched in Spring 2020. Wobbrock, along with Mankoff, served as CREATE’s inaugural co-directors until June 2023.

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.

Affiliations

Professor, The Information School

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

Director, ACE Lab

Research highlights

The Slide Rule project 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 to 2008, today Slide Rule has directly influenced products shipping on billions of touch devices. This work was honored for its lasting impact at ACM ASSETS 2019.

A new design approach developed from 2011 to the present 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 their designs 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 and Google.

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 doctoral research from 2001 to 2006, I have been inventing and evaluating more accessible means of providing input to computing systems. For example, my EdgeWrite text entry system provided more accessible text input using handheld devices, wheelchair joysticks, touchpads, and trackballs. My Pointing Magnifier software, a research project with Dr. Leah Findlater, provides a cursor replacement on Microsoft Windows that has been useful to people with motor or visual impairments, older adults, and graphic artists and designers.


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