Future of Access Technologies Syllabus

Accessible technologies are at the forefront of technological innovation. changing society. This class covers these cutting edge technologies, teaches you how to think about access and inclusion, and looks at some of the history and critical theory and disability. Primarily, this is a class to build in, and we will learn about physical access technology using arduinos and fabrication tools as well as software access technology. This is a graduate class with a fairly open ended project at the end.

Class Instructors, time and date

Access Technology will be held on M/W 9-10:30am in Sieg 322.

CSE 340 is taught by Jennifer Mankoff. Manaswi Saha is the TA.

InstructorRoleOffice Hour Time/LocationPronouns
Jennifer MankoffInstructor10:30-11:30, Wednesdays, Sieg 322She/Her
Manaswi SahaTATBDShe/Her

Should I take this class?

Yes! Everyone planning a career in interactive technology should understand access technology. Not only is it cutting edge and exciting, accessibility is a human rights issue and it is the law. Students of interactive technology should know how to build regular interfaces that are accessible as well as understanding the value of innovating new approaches to accessibility. Disability touches almost everyone either directly or indirectly at some point in life, temporarily or permanently. Let’s create a future we will also want to and be able to be part of.

This class will teach you

  • How to build physical access technology (AT). We will learn about and experiment with Arduinos (and connect them to our phones!), and learn about and experiment with fabrication technology.
  • How to build accessible interfaces. You will make your own webpage accessible.
  • What access technologies already exist. We will find examples, watch people talk about how they use them, and help with or shadow someone using AT (tentative).
  • Where we came from and where we are going. You will learn about some of the history of access technology, including how they are used, how they are constructed, when and how they were developed/adopted and what might be part of the future of AT.

Taking a class is a big commitment, and you will work hard in this class. So we want to help you make sure this is the right class for you. Below is some information about prerequisites and expectations.

Prereqs and expectations

The only requirement for this class is that you are comfortable programming and picking up new languages that you have not been exposed to before. You will be expected (with minimal to no specific instruction) to program in OpenSCAD, the Arduino C/C++ subset, work with HTML (and possibly CSS/Javascript).

Course Structure

Many of the goals in this class center around learning by doing. This means that hands on time trying out everything from implementation to evaluation is critical to learning. To support this, readings and videos will be expected to be viewed/read ahead of class, while class time will be used as much as possible for activities, discussion, review, and homework.

Class Coordination

We want you to succeed in this class, and an important way that you do that is by asking questions and discussing course issues with your peers and teaching staff. Some ways to do that include:

  • We have a class email discussion list where you can share ideas, requests, etc. This is the best way to ask questions about things like homework.
  • We also have office hours (listed above).
  • You can email the instructors directly. Please always email both of us since one might answer faster than the other.

Class Expectations

The class is a shared learning environment, and it is important that you treat everyone in the class with respect. Some specific things we will do to try to make the class a welcoming environment:

  • Accessibility: I have attempted to make all the course materials accessible according to web standards. If you need any additional support, I am always happy to work with you and the Disabled Students Office to make sure that the class meets your needs. Here is a link to the university policy on disability accommodations.
  • Inclusivity: I will be working toward a broad base of examples, and a welcoming environment for all. Please let me know if you see opportunities to improve this.
  • Religious accommodations: This class may overlap observances or be impacted by them. The UW policy for accommodating student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Please feel free to talk to me about how I can best support you as well.
  • Pronouns: I use she/her, please let me know if you have any specific pronoun preferences

In addition to the above goals, it is my hope that we can structure the class in ways that will maximize learning and minimize pressure. My goal is to create a welcoming environment that does not create unnecessary stress. Much of my focus in doing so is around grading and work policies (described below). However I also want to emphasize that anyone in the class who is facing an unusual or very high stressor is welcome to come and talk with me about how I can help connect them with services, or provide a breather.

Grading and working policies

While grading is a necessary part of what we do at UW, I want to focus this class on learning. The following policies are meant to encourage that.

Grading Approach

We’ll be using approval grading in this class. That means that I will provide a rubric for each assignment, plus a rubric for learning goals for the entire quarter. You’ll fill both out. If you do the things they says, you get the grade.

Rubrics verification will be lightweight verification in class by random classmate, with occasional verification by myself and the TA.

One of the rubrics items for the class will have to do with time management. Turning in homework late will impact your score on that rubric. Part of time management is knowing when something should give. Thus, the time management rubric will include up to 4 penalty-free late days.

Grading Breakdown (tentative)

Grades will be assigned approximately as follows:

  • 10%: Facility in overall learning goals
  • 30%: Smaller assignments
  • 50%: Large project
  • 10%: Effort, participation and altruism

Sharing and group projects

Working together is encouraged, as long as you in the end implement your own code, and make sure to document any information you get from other students in comments at the top of the relevant file. You will work on one of your projects in pairs.

Jennifer Mankoff | University of Washington

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