Sieg 322, M/W 9-10:20
How can physical computing enable new solutions to accessibility, including both access to the world and access to computers? Similarly, how can a disability studies perspective guide us in developing empowering and relevant solutions to accessibility problems? This course explores both of those questions through a combination of discussions, reading, and building.
Access technology (AT) has the potential to increase autonomy, and improve millions of people’s ability to live independently. This potential is currently under-realized because the expertise needed to create the right AT is in short supply and the custom nature of AT makes it difficult to deliver inexpensively. Yet computers’ flexibility and exponentially increasing power have revolutionized and democratized access technologies. In addition, by studying access technology, we can gain valuable insights into the future of all user interface technology.
In this course we will focus on two primary domains for access technologies: Access to the world (first half of the class) and Access to computers (second half of class). Students will start the course by learning some basic physical computing capabilities so that they have the tools to build novel access technologies. We will focus on creating AT using sensors and actuators that can be controlled/sensed with a mobile device. The largest project in the class will be an open ended opportunity to explore access technology in more depth.
Class will meet 9-10:20 M/W
Week 1 (9/25 ONLY): Introduction
- 9/25 Introduction
- Solo Assignment: (examples of physical computing for Accessibility), due to be presented in class on 10/2.
- Observation Assignment (timing/etc. tentative) Due to Prof. Mankoff by end of quarter)
Week 2 (10/2 ONLY): Introduction
- 9/30 Work on Assignment (no class) (Rosh Hashanah)
- 3D Print Accessibility Assignment (due 10/16)
Week 3 (10/7; 10/9): 3D Printing & Laser Cutting
- 10/7Advanced Modeling Concepts/ Many Modes for Manufacturing
- 10/9 Presentation about WATAP
- Get ready for Arduino
Week 4 (10/14; 10/16): Physical Computing
- More practical advice about 3D printing
- Introduction to Circuit Design
- Introduction to Arduino platform
In class: Connect simple LED circuit to a phone
Pair Project: Build a Better Button (Demo 10/30; webpage due 11/1)
Week 5 (10/21; 10/23): Finishing Arduino; Disability Studies
- Arduino + Mobile phones
- Physical Computing and Accessibility
- Disability Studies reading due: Pick ONE only to read. Hopefully among us we will cover a range of them. We’ll compare and contrast.
- Open work time on Arduino projects
Week 6 (10/28; 10/30): Disability Studies; Input [Tentative]
- Disability Studies
- Critical perspectives on disability, assistive technology, and how the two relate
- Methodological discussion
- Reading: Disability Studies as a source of critical inquiry
- Discussion of Arduino Projects
- Starting on Input
- Characterizing the performance of input devices (‘Design space of input devices’)
- Digital techniques for adapting to user input capabilities (e.g. voice control, eye gaze)
- Novel interaction techniques (e.g. mobile phone interaction, at the time)
- Passive sensing and other real world input challenges
- Reading 1: Slide Rule
- Reading 2: The Design Space of Input Devices
Week 7 (11/4; 11/6): Output
- Finish up Input if needed
- Project Proposals for second half project due (Details of requirements)
- Ideally you should have already formed groups
- There will be an opportunity to join forces after the presentations
- Discussion of Output. Possible topics:
- Braille displays
- Alternative tactile displays
- Visual displays for the deaf
- Ambient Displays & Calm Computing
- Readings for output:
- In the Shadow of misperception: Assistive Technology Use and Social Interactions
- Assistive Technologies for Students with Visual Impairments and Blindness (On Canvas). Really interesting contrast to the other; but long — skim it, and focus on learning about at least 5 assistive technologies you weren’t familiar with before (starts on p. 11 of the pdf and goes until p. 31) p. 33 is also worth reading.
Week 8 (11/13 ONLY): Applications
- Discuss some application areas for accessible technology
- Exercise & Recreation
- Navigation & Maps
- Programming and Computation
- Home/IoT control
- Reflection on role of User Research in Successful AT
- Reading 1: Exploring Data Tracking and Sharing Preferences of Wheelchair Athletes (acm DL link requires you to be on campus or use the UW library proxy bookmarklet to access it)
- Reading 2: Exploring Aesthetic Enhancement of Wearable Technologies for Deaf Women .
Week 9 (11/18; 11/20): The Web
Learn about “The Web,” how access technologies interact with the Web, and how to make accessible web pages.
WebAim.org — WebAIM has long been a leader in providing information and tutorials on making the Web accessible. A great source where you can read about accessibility issues, making content accessible, etc. Run it on your website or web page and look at the results before class.
Reading 1: Google Video on Practical Web Accessibility — this video provides a great overview of the Web and how to make web content accessible. Highly recommended as a supplement to what we will cover in class.
Optional Reading: If you want to supplement the reading with written guidance, check out WebAim.org Introduction to Web Accessibility, specifically the section titled ‘Principles of Accessible Design’ (which has links to how to properly write alt text; appropriate document structure, and so on).
Reading 2: What’s the problem?
Discussion: How can we make the web accessible when individual authors don’t? Also how can we improve web authoring?
Assignment: Assess a Web Page. In class, we will also make it more accessible. Please come prepared on 11/18.
Week 10 (11/25; 11/27): Screen Readers (AKA Bigham (plus a few others) week 🙂
- Building a screen reader on the web (required reading):
- How people use screen readers (optional)
- Providing access to graphical interfaces (optional)
- Additional Issues (glance through the abstracts for these)
- Crowdsourcing Video Captions
- Enhancing screen access with new physical computing techniques
- Reverse engineering touch screen accessibility
- Human vs OCR labeling of web images
- A browser extension to describe images on Twitter
- Automatically judging alternative text quality
- Automation to fix problems with headings
- Making updates to web pages accessible
- An automated web guide
- Automating magnification on the web
- Capturing accessibility problems just after they happen
- Mid-project Reports (Wednesday)
Week 10 (12/2; 12/4): Working with Cognitive Impairment
- Monday: Class Canceled
- Mid-project feedback (Wednesday)
Final Project Presentations will take place from 8:30-10:20 on Wednesday of finals week.