Accessibility Seminar

The Accessibility Seminar (CSE 590W) is taught most quarters. This fall (2018), it will be taught at 2:30 on Wednesdays. The focus will be at the intersection of fabrication and assistive technology.

Past years in which I was involved

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.

The Tangible Desktop

Mark S. BaldwinGillian R. HayesOliver L. HaimsonJennifer MankoffScott E. Hudson:
The Tangible Desktop: A Multimodal Approach to Nonvisual Computing. TACCESS 10(3): 9:1-9:28 (2017)

Audio-only interfaces, facilitated through text-to-speech screen reading software, have been the primary mode of computer interaction for blind and low-vision computer users for more than four decades. During this time, the advances that have made visual interfaces faster and easier to use, from direct manipulation to skeuomorphic design, have not been paralleled in nonvisual computing environments. The screen reader–dependent community is left with no alternatives to engage with our rapidly advancing technological infrastructure. In this article, we describe our efforts to understand the problems that exist with audio-only interfaces. Based on observing screen reader use for 4 months at a computer training school for blind and low-vision adults, we identify three problem areas within audio-only interfaces: ephemerality, linear interaction, and unidirectional communication. We then evaluated a multimodal approach to computer interaction called the Tangible Desktop that addresses these problems by moving semantic information from the auditory to the tactile channel. Our evaluation demonstrated that among novice screen reader users, Tangible Desktop improved task completion times by an average of 6 minutes when compared to traditional audio-only computer systems.

 

Volunteer AT Fabricators

Perry-Hill, J., Shi, P., Mankoff, J. & Ashbrook, D. Understanding Volunteer AT Fabricators: Opportunities and Challenges in DIY-AT for Others in e-NABLE. Accepted to CHI 2017

We present the results of a study of e-NABLE, a distributed, collaborative volunteer effort to design and fabricate upper-limb assistive technology devices for limb-different users. Informed by interviews with 14 stakeholders in e-NABLE, including volunteers and clinicians, we discuss differences and synergies among each group with respect to motivations, skills, and perceptions of risks inherent in the project. We found that both groups are motivated to be involved in e-NABLE by the ability to use their skills to help others, and that their skill sets are complementary, but that their different perceptions of risk may result in uneven outcomes or missed expectations for end users. We offer four opportunities for design and technology to enhance the stakeholders’ abilities to work together.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 1.09.13 PMA variety of 3D-printed upper-limb assistive technology devices designed and produced by volunteers in the e-NABLE community. Photos were taken by the fourth author in the e-NABLE lab on RIT’s campus.

Printable Adaptations

Shows someone placing a pen in a cap with two different types of adaptations.

Reprise: A Design Tool for Specifying, Generating, and Customizing 3D Printable Adaptations on Everyday Objects

Reprise is a tool for creating custom adaptive 3D printable designs for making it easier to manipulate everything from tools to zipper pulls. Reprise’s library is based on a survey of about 3,000 assistive technology and life hacks drawn from textbooks on the topic as well as Thingiverse. Using Reprise, it is possible to specify a type of action (such as grasp or pull), indicate the direction of action on a 3D model of the object being adapted, parameterize the action in a simple GUI, specify an attachment method, and produce a 3D model that is ready to print.

Xiang ‘Anthony’ Chen, Jeeeun Kim, Jennifer Mankoff, Tovi Grossman, Stelian Coros, Scott Hudson (2016). Reprise: A Design Tool for Specifying, Generating, and Customizing 3D Printable Adaptations on Everyday Objects. Proceedings of the 29th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST 2016) (pdf)

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Helping Hands

Prosthetic limbs and assistive technology (AT) require customization and modification over time to effectively meet the needs of end users. Yet, this process is typically costly and, as a result, abandonment rates are very high. Rapid prototyping technologies such as 3D printing have begun to alleviate this issue by making it possible to inexpensively, and iteratively create general AT designs and prosthetics. However for effective use, technology must be applied using design methods that support physical rapid prototyping and can accommodate the unique needs of a specific user. While most research has focused on the tools for creating fitted assistive devices, we focus on the requirements of a design process that engages the user and designer in the rapid iterative prototyping of prosthetic devices.

We present a case study of three participants with upper-limb amputations working with researchers to design prosthetic devices for specific tasks. Kevin wanted to play the cello, Ellen wanted to ride a hand-cycle (a bicycle for people with lower limb mobility impairments), and Bret wanted to use a table knife. Our goal was to identify requirements for a design process that can engage the assistive technology user in rapidly prototyping assistive devices that fill needs not easily met by traditional assistive technology. Our study made use of 3D printing and other playful and practical prototyping materials. We discuss materials that support on-the-spot design and iteration, dimensions along which in-person iteration is most important (such as length and angle) and the value of a supportive social network for users who prototype their own assistive technology. From these findings we argue for the importance of extensions in supporting modularity, community engagement, and relatable prototyping materials in the iterative design of prosthetics

Prosthetic limbs and assistive technology (AT) require customization and modification over time to effectively meet the needs of end users. Yet, this process is typically costly and, as a result, abandonment rates are very high. Rapid prototyping technologies such as 3D printing have begun to alleviate this issue by making it possible to inexpensively, and iteratively create general AT designs and prosthetics. However for effective use, technology must be applied using design methods that support physical rapid prototyping and can accommodate the unique needs of a specific user. While most research has focused on the tools for creating fitted assistive devices, we focus on the requirements of a design process that engages the user and designer in the rapid iterative prototyping of prosthetic devices.

We present a case study of three participants with upper-limb amputations working with researchers to design prosthetic devices for specific tasks. Kevin wanted to play the cello, Ellen wanted to ride a hand-cycle (a bicycle for people with lower limb mobility impairments), and Bret wanted to use a table knife. Our goal was to identify requirements for a design process that can engage the assistive technology user in rapidly prototyping assistive devices that fill needs not easily met by traditional assistive technology. Our study made use of 3D printing and other playful and practical prototyping materials. We discuss materials that support on-the-spot design and iteration, dimensions along which in-person iteration is most important (such as length and angle) and the value of a supportive social network for users who prototype their own assistive technology. From these findings we argue for the importance of extensions in supporting modularity, community engagement, and relatable prototyping materials in the iterative design of prosthetics

Photos

Project Files

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2365703

Project Publications

Helping Hands: Requirements for a Prototyping Methodology for Upper-limb Prosthetics Users

Reference:

Megan Kelly Hofmann, Jeffery Harris, Scott E Hudson, Jennifer Mankoff. 2016.Helping Hands: Requirements for a Prototyping Methodology for Upper-limb Prosthetics Users. InProceedings of the 34th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 525-534.

Making Connections: Modular 3D Printing for Designing Assistive Attachments to Prosthetic Devices

Reference:

Megan Kelly Hofmann. 2015. Making Connections: Modular 3D Printing for Designing Assistive Attachments to Prosthetic Devices. In Proceedings of the 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers & Accessibility (ASSETS ’15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 353-354. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2700648.2811323

Alex Q. Chen

AlexQChenAlex Q. Chen: I am a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. My research interests include User-Centred Design, Human Factors and Human Behaviour on the Web, and Web Accessibility. The focus of my research aims to improve the user experience and the accessibility of digital information for elderly and physically challenged users.

Megan Hofmann

Megan is a Phd Student at the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon Unviversity. She is advised by Prof. Jennifer Mankoff of the University of Washington and and Prof. Scott E. Hudson. She completed her bachelors in Computer Science at Colorado State University in 2017. She is an NSF Fellow, and a Center for Machine Learning and Health Fellow. During her Undergraduate degree Megan’s research was adviced by Dr. Jaime Ruiz and Prof. Amy Hurst.

Her research focuses on creating computer aided design and fabrication tools that expand the digital fabrication process with new materials. She uses participatory observation and participatory design methods to study assistive technology and digital fabrication among many stakeholder (people with disabilities, caregivers, and clinicians).

Visit Megan’s homepage at https://www.megan-hofmann.com/publications/.

Research

Some recent projects (see more)