1st Place, UMBC Gritty Talk

I am proud of my MS Thesis student, Antony Rishin Mukkath Roy, for taking home First Place at UMBC’s “Gritty Talk” graduate student competition during GEARS 2019. He is presenting preliminary work at iConference 2018, in a poster titled “Beyond being human: The (in)accessibility consequences of modeling VAPAs after human-human conversation.”

(photo of Antony Rishin standing in front of his slides)

$175K NSF CRII Grant to Study Blind Parent-Child Co-Reading

I am thrilled to announce that NSF CRII program is supporting my new research program around disabled parents and early childhood literacy development. The official abstract for the project, titled “CRII: CHS: Making Universally Usable Technologies to Enhance Parent-Child Co-Reading and Early Literacy Skills at Home,” is now published on the NSF website. The $175,000, two-year grant will primarily go toward funding the studies of a PhD student and compensating research participants for their time and expertise. Read the full story for more details, and to learn what my talented colleague, Daniel Epstein, has in store under his new NSF CRII grant:)

DIS19 – Paper Accepted – mixed-visual-ability co-reading!

My outstanding PhD student, Kevin Storer, and I submitted our first paper together as advisor-advisee team this past January (squee!), and we’ve just been notified of its acceptance to DIS 2019🙂 The paper, titled “‘That’s the Way Sighted People Do It’: What Blind Parents Can Teach Technology Designers About Co-Reading with Children,” is the first HCI research to approach parent-child co-reading practices from the perspective of parents with disabilities. Stay tuned for the camera ready publication; until then, here’s our abstract:

Co-reading (when parents read aloud with their children) is an important literacy development activity for children. HCI has begun to explore how technology might support children in co-reading, but little empirical work examines how parents currently co-read, and no work examines how people with visual impairments (PWVI) co-read. PWVI’s perspectives offer unique insights into co-reading, as PWVI often read differently from their children, and (Braille) literacy holds particular cultural significance for PWVI. We observed discussions of co-reading practices in a blind parenting forum on Facebook, to establish a grounded understanding of how and why PWVI co-read. We found that PWVIs’ co-reading practices were highly diverse and affected by a variety of socio-technical concerns – and visual ability was less influential than other factors like ability to read Braille, presence of social supports, and children’s literacy. Our findings show that including blind parents in the design process offers key insights into co-reading, which help technologies in this space better meet the needs of both blind and sighted parents and children.

our forthcoming DIS 2019 paper

Blog – How “Interdependence” finally got published

Recently, a paper I co-authored with Cindy Bennett and Erin Brady about “Interdependence” was accepted to my favorite conference and, icing on the cake, received an award. This has been wildly exciting for me, because when I started to write about this very topic four years ago, others in my academic circle were uncertain that the topic was worthwhile. Especially as a PhD student or a young postdoc, it can be difficult to turn skepticism from your academic heroes into productive argument-fortification. For me, this is a story of “stick-with-it-ness” that helps me remember nothing is impossible if you keep questioning, keep reading, and––most importantly––keep coalition-building. Thank you, Cindy, Erin, ASSETS 2018, and all the people from feminist / DS / STS and disability activists who inspired us.

CSCW18 – Diversity & Inclusion Recognition!

Our paper “Safe Spaces and Safe Places” earned a Recognition of Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion along with 4 other awesome papers at CSCW 2018! This community continues to show its commitment to inclusive excellence as it helps us raise awareness of safety and wellbeing of transgender people. Thank you CSCW and SIGCHI!

Thanks to my awesome co-authors: my previous MS thesis student, Morgan Scheuerman (now at CU Boulder), and Foad Hamidi (currently on the job market in Fall 2018).


ASSETS18 – Student Best Paper Award!

Cindy Bennett, Erin Brady, and myself are so pleased to learn our paper “Interdependence: A Frame for Assistive Technology Research and Design” earned a Student Best Paper Award (top 2% of submissions) at ASSETS 2018! This is one of my favorite papers of all time––so happy others are enjoying it, too.

Custom Disability Icons

My talented Masters Thesis student, Antony Rishin Mukkath, adapted icons from flaticon.com to accurately portray our research participants with disabilities in our ASSETS 2018 presentation about Interdependence. If you are interested to learn more, please see our slides (coming soon!) and research paper titled: “Interdependence as a frame for assistive technology research and design.”

You can download these custom icons here: Thumbnail | PNG | SVG.

ASSETS18 – Two Papers Accepted – interdependence & VAs for blind folks!

I’m excited to share work with collaborators Cindy Bennet and Erin Brady on theorizing Interdependence as a new frame for designing assistive technologies. Additionally, my PhD mentee, Ali Abdolrahmani, will be presenting work with Ravi Kuber and myself on the prospects of personal assistants that leverage voice-user interfaces (think: Amazon Echo) to provide increased access to the blind community. We’ll see you in Ireland at ASSETS 2018!

  • Bennett, C., Brady, E., Branham, S.M. “Interdependence as a Frame for Assistive Technology Research and Design.” In Proceedings of the ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers & Accessibility (ASSETS ’18), Galway, Ireland, October 22-24, 2018. 10 pages. forthcoming
  • Abdolrahmani, A., Kuber, R., Branham, S.M. “‘Siri Talks at You’”: An Empirical Investigation of Voice Activated Personal Assistant (VAPA) Usage by Individuals Who are Blind.”  In Proceedings of the ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers & Accessibility (ASSETS ’18), Galway, Ireland, October 22-24, 2018. 10 pages. forthcoming