One in 5 Americans has a disability, and the needs of people with disabilities are extremely heterogeneous. Yet accessibility is not a given, and assistive technology today is mostly homogenous and very expensive. Our group is focused on the scientific challenges that can address accessibility across a broad range of domains.
From a healthcare perspective, our work focuses on the intersectional nature of inclusion, access and health. For example, discrimination can impact both mental and physical health. Similarly, chronic illness is both a health issue and a disability.
Our group also works to address inclusion of other under represented groups. Our particular focus currently is the UW Experience Study which is looking at experiences that differentially impact under represented groups among undergraduates at the University of Washington. Other recent work has looked at gender in academia and other settings.
President Obama once said ‘3D printing […] has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything” [Obama 2013].’ One might say that computers have the same ability. Together, computational advances and fabrication can revolutionize personal problem solving, particularly with respect to accessibility.
Our group is embarking on an effort to enhance fabrication technology, both through the use of new and better materials and in its ease of program. Much of our effort here is on embedding standard programming capabilities such as testability, modularity, iterability, and version control into the design and fabrication process.
An ability to process, understand, and share data is critical to many of today’s computational tasks. Our group’s work takes a human centered view on data analytic problems. Some of our advances include a machine learning algorithm that tries to minimize the burden on people answering questions needed to support prediction and decreasing the impact of uncertainty by carrying it forward into interactive systems rather than guessing the correct interpretation without any knowledge of the user who is interacting with a system.
Sustainability, and relatedly environmental justice, are issues that intersects with all of the other focii in our group. In addition, they are issues that require engagement by computer scientists. In the past, our group has tackled sustainability from an intersectional perspective, exploring how energy use plays out in a variety of communities from low-income settings in the U.S. to urban middle-class families in India. This in turn has led to new research in landlord-tenant relationships and ultimately to work aimed at changing the information economy prior to lease signing.