Venkatesh Potluri

Venkatesh Potluri is a Ph.D. student at the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering at University of Washington. He is advised by Prof Jennifer Mankoff and Prof Jon Froehlich. Venkatesh believes that technology, when designed right, empowers everybody to fulfill their goals and aspirations. His broad research goals are to upgrade accessibility to the ever-changing ways of our interactions with technology, and, improve the independence and quality of life of people with disabilities. These goals stem from his personal experience as a researcher with a visual impairment. His research focus is to enable developers with visual impairments perform a variety of programming tasks efficiently. Previously, he was a Research Fellow at Microsoft Research India, where his team was responsible for building CodeTalk, an accessibility framework and a plugin for better IDE accessibility. Venkatesh earned a master’s degree in Computer Science at International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad, where his research was on audio rendering of mathematical content.

You can find more information about him at https://venkateshpotluri.me

Interactiles

The absence of tactile cues such as keys and buttons makes touchscreens difficult to navigate for people with visual impairments. Increasing tactile feedback and tangible interaction on touchscreens can improve their accessibility. However, prior solutions have either required hardware customization or provided limited functionality with static overlays. In addition, the investigation of tactile solutions for large touchscreens may not address the challenges on mobile devices. We therefore present Interactiles, a low-cost, portable, and unpowered system that enhances tactile interaction on Android touchscreen phones. Interactiles consists of 3D-printed hardware interfaces and software that maps interaction with that hardware to manipulation of a mobile app. The system is compatible with the built-in screen reader without requiring modification of existing mobile apps. We describe the design and implementation of Interactiles, and we evaluate its improvement in task performance and the user experience it enables with people who are blind or have low vision.

XiaoyiZhang, TracyTran, YuqianSun, IanCulhane, ShobhitJain, JamesFogarty, JenniferMankoff: Interactiles: 3D Printed Tactile Interfaces to Enhance Mobile Touchscreen Accessibility. ASSETS 2018: To Appear [PDF]

Figure 2. Floating windows created for number pad (left), scrollbar (right) and control button (right bottom). The windows can be transparent; we use colors for demonstration.
Figure 4. Average task completion times of all tasks in the study.

Nonvisual Interaction Techniques at the Keyboard Surface

Rushil Khurana,Duncan McIsaac, Elliot Lockerman,Jennifer Mankoff Nonvisual Interaction Techniques at the Keyboard Surface, CHI 2018, To Appear

A table (shown on screen). Columns are mapped to the number row of the keyboard and rows to the leftmost column of keys, and (1) By default the top left cell is selected. (2) The right hand presses the ‘2’ key, selecting the second column (3) The left hand selects the next row (4) The left hand selects the third row. In each case, the position of the cell and its content are read out aloud.

Web user interfaces today leverage many common GUI design patterns, including navigation bars and menus (hierarchical structure), tabular content presentation, and scrolling. These visual-spatial cues enhance the interaction experience of sighted users. However, the linear nature of screen translation tools currently available to blind users make it difficult to understand or navigate these structures. We introduce Spatial Region Interaction Techniques (SPRITEs) for nonvisual access: a novel method for navigating two-dimensional structures using the keyboard surface. SPRITEs 1) preserve spatial layout, 2) enable bimanual interaction, and 3) improve the end user experience. We used a series of design probes to explore different methods for keyboard surface interaction. Our evaluation of SPRITEs shows that three times as many participants were able to complete spatial tasks with SPRITEs than with their preferred current technology.

Talk [Slides]:

Sample Press:

KOMO Radio | New screen reader method helps blind, low-vision users browse complex web pages

Device helps blind, low-vision users better browse web pages. Allen Cone

Graph showing task completion rates for different kinds of tasks in our user study
A user is searching a table (shown on screen) for the word ‘Jill’. Columns are mapped to the number row of the keyboard and rows to the leftmost column of keys. (1) By default the top left cell is selected. (2) The right hand presses the ‘2’ key, selecting the second column (3) The left hand selects the next row (4) The left hand selects the third row. In each case, the number of occurrences of the search query in the respective column or row are read aloud. When the query is found, the position and content of the cell are read out aloud.

Making the field of computing more inclusive for people with disabilities

Lazar, J., Churchill, E. F., Grossman, T., Van der Veer, G., Palanque, P., Morris, J. S., & Mankoff, J. (2017). Making the field of computing more inclusiveCommunications of the ACM60(3), 50-59.

More accessible conferences, digital resources, and ACM SIGs will lead to greater participation by more people with disabilities. Improving conference and online material accessibility has been an ongoing project that I’ve been lucky enough to help with. This effort, led by a wide set of people, is spearheaded currently by the SIGCHI Accessibility Community (also on facebook, summarized in a recent Interactions blog post.

 

A Beam Robot Jen is using to attend a conference

Disability Studies and Accessible Technology Creation

Jennifer Mankoff, Gillian R. HayesDevva Kasnitz:
Disability studies as a source of critical inquiry for the field of assistive technology. ASSETS 2010: 3-10

Disability studies and assistive technology are two related fields that have long shared common goals–understanding the experience of disability and identifying and addressing relevant issues. Despite these common goals, there are some important differences in what professionals in these fields consider problems, perhaps related to the lack of connection between the fields. To help bridge this gap, we review some of the key literature in disability studies. We present case studies of two research projects in assistive technology and discuss how the field of disability studies influenced that work, led us to identify new or different problems relevant to the field of assistive technology, and helped us to think in new ways about the research process and its impact on the experiences of individuals who live with disability. We also discuss how the field of disability studies has influenced our teaching and highlight some of the key publications and publication venues from which our community may want to draw more deeply in the future.