Tactile maps can help people who are blind or have low vision navigate and familiarize themselves with unfamiliar locations. Ideally, tactile maps are created by considering an individual’s unique needs and abilities because of their limited space for representation. However, significant customization is not supported by existing tools for generating tactile maps. We present the Maptimizer system which generates tactile maps that are customized to a user’s preferences and requirements, while making simplified and easy to read tactile maps. Maptimizer uses a two stage optimization process to pair representations with geographic information and tune those representations to present that information more clearly. In a user study with six blind/low-vision participants, Maptimizer helped participants more successfully and efficiently identify locations of interest in unknown areas. These results demonstrate the utility of optimization techniques and generative design in complex accessibility domains that require significant customization by the end user.
Smartphone overuse is related to a variety of issues such as lack of sleep and anxiety. We explore the application of Self-Affirmation Theory on smartphone overuse intervention in a just-in-time manner. We present TypeOut, a just-in-time intervention technique that integrates two components: an in-situ typing-based unlock process to improve user engagement, and self-affirmation-based typing content to enhance effectiveness. We hypothesize that the integration of typing and self-affirmation content can better reduce smartphone overuse. We conducted a 10-week within-subject field experiment (N=54) and compared TypeOut against two baselines: one only showing the self-affirmation content (a common notification-based intervention), and one only requiring typing non-semantic content (a state-of-the-art method). TypeOut reduces app usage by over 50%, and both app opening frequency and usage duration by over 25%, all significantly outperforming baselines. TypeOut can potentially be used in other domains where an intervention may benefit from integrating self-affirmation exercises with an engaging just-in-time mechanism.
In order for “human-centered research” to include all humans, we need to make sure that research practices are accessible for both participants and researchers with disabilities. Yet, people rarely discuss how to make common methods accessible. We interviewed 17 accessibility experts who were researchers or community organizers about their practices. Our findings emphasize the importance of considering accessibility at all stages of the research process and across different dimensions of studies like communication, materials, time, and space. We explore how technology or processes could reflect a norm of accessibility and offer a practical structure for planning accessible research.
The onset of COVID-19 led many makers to dive deeply into the potential applications of their work to help with the pandemic. Our group’s efforts on this front, all of which were collaborations with a variety of people from multiple universities, led me to this reflective talk about the additional work that is needed for us to take the next step towards democratizing fabrication.
This talk is based on a series of papers studying and working with people who make, including the following recent COVID-related papers:
Visual semantics provide spatial information like size, shape, and position, which are necessary to understand and efficiently use interfaces and documents. Yet little is known about whether blind and low-vision (BLV) technology users want to interact with visual affordances, and, if so, for which task scenarios. In this work, through semi-structured and task-based interviews, we explore preferences, interest levels, and use of visual semantics among BLV technology users across two device platforms (smartphones and laptops), and information seeking and interactions common in apps and web browsing. Findings show that participants could benefit from access to visual semantics for collaboration, navigation, and design. To learn this information, our participants used trial and error, sighted assistance, and features in existing screen reading technology like touch exploration. Finally, we found that missing information and inconsistent screen reader representations of user interfaces hinder learning. We discuss potential applications and future work to equip BLV users with necessary information to engage with visual semantics.
Knitting is a popular craft that can be used to create customized fabric objects such as household items, clothing and toys. Additionally, many knitters find knitting to be a relaxing and calming exercise. Little is known about how disabled knitters use and benefit from knitting, and what accessibility solutions and challenges they create and encounter. We conducted interviews with 16 experienced, disabled knitters and analyzed 20 threads from six forums that discussed accessible knitting to identify how and why disabled knitters knit, and what accessibility concerns remain. We additionally conducted an iterative design case study developing knitting tools for a knitter who found existing solutions insufficient. Our innovations improved the range of stitches she could produce. We conclude by arguing for the importance of improving tools for both pattern generation and modification as well as adaptations or modifications to existing tools such as looms to make it easier to track progress
Automatic knitting machines are robust, digital fabrication devices that enable rapid and reliable production of attractive, functional objects by combining stitches to produce unique physical properties. However, no existing design tools support optimization for desirable physical and aesthetic knitted properties. We present KnitGIST (Generative Instantiation Synthesis Toolkit for knitting), a program synthesis pipeline and library for generating hand- and machine-knitting patterns by intuitively mapping objectives to tactics for texture design. KnitGIST generates a machine-knittable program in a domain-specific programming language.
It was my honor this year to participate in an auto-ethnographic effort to explore accessibility research from a combination of personal and theoretical perspectives. In the process, and thanks to my amazing co-authors, I learned so much about myself, disability studies, ableism and accessibility.
Abstract: Accessibility research and disability studies are intertwined fields focused on, respectively, building a world more inclusive of people with disability and understanding and elevating the lived experiences of disabled people. Accessibility research tends to focus on creating technology related to impairment, while disability studies focuses on understanding disability and advocating against ableist systems. Our paper presents a reflexive analysis of the experiences of three accessibility researchers and one disability studies scholar. We focus on moments when our disability was misunderstood and causes such as expecting clearly defined impairments. We derive three themes: ableism in research, oversimplification of disability, and human relationships around disability. From these themes, we suggest paths toward more strongly integrating disability studies perspectives and disabled people into accessibility research.
Knitting creates complex, soft objects with unique and controllable texture properties that can be used to create interactive objects. However, little work addresses the challenges of using knitted textures. We present KnitPick: a pipeline for interpreting pre-existing hand-knitting texture patterns into a directed-graph representation of knittable structures (KnitGraphs) which can be output to machine and hand-knitting instructions. Using KnitPick, we contribute a measured and photographed data set of 300 knitted textures. Based on findings from this data set, we contribute two algorithms for manipulating KnitGraphs. KnitCarving shapes a graph while respecting a texture, and KnitPatching combines graphs with disparate textures while maintaining a consistent shape. Using these algorithms and textures in our data set we are able to create three Knitting based interactions: roll, tug, and slide. KnitPick is the first system to bridge the gap between hand- and machine-knitting when creating complex knitted textures.
A deeper understanding of how discrimination impacts psychological health and well-being of students would allow us to better protect individuals at risk and support those who encounter discrimination. While the link between discrimination and diminished psychological and physical well-being is well established, existing research largely focuses on chronic discrimination and long-term outcomes. A better understanding of the short-term behavioral correlates of discrimination events could help us to concretely quantify the experience, which in turn could support policy and intervention design. In this paper we specifically examine, for the first time, what behaviors change and in what ways in relation to discrimination. We use actively-reported and passively-measured markers of health and well-being in a sample of 209 first-year college students over the course of two academic quarters. We examine changes in indicators of psychological state in relation to reports of unfair treatment in terms of five categories of behaviors: physical activity, phone usage, social interaction, mobility, and sleep. We find that students who encounter unfair treatment become more physically active, interact more with their phone in the morning, make more calls in the evening, and spend less time in bed on the day of the event. Some of these patterns continue the next day.