My MS thesis student, Antony Rishin, and I are looking forward to sharing our latest study on Voice Assistants for accessibility. Check out an advance copy here: “Reading Between the Guidelines: How Commercial Voice Assistant Guidelines Hinder Accessibility for Blind Users.”
Voice assistants like Google and Siri hold great potential for people who are blind––no screens (sort of)! But, research done by my student Ali Abdolrahmani uncovered significant usability and accessibility challenges. Antony Rishin and I decided to find out whether these challenges can be explained by the voice assistant design guidelines that are published by companies. We did a content analysis of hundreds of pages of guidelines from Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple (which had shockingly sparse design documentation), and Alibaba. Long story short, there’s a lot of work to be done to bring these documents up to speed on accessible, usable experiences for people who are blind and others.
More details coming soon. Until then, you can download a pre-print of the paper below:
Storer, K. & Branham, S.M. “That’s the Way Sighted People Do It: What Blind Parents Can Teach Technology Designers About Co-Reading with Children.” In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS ’19), San Diego, CA, June 23-28, 2019. 10 pages. (acceptance rate: 25%) (Honorable Mention – top 2%) forthcoming
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
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 this was a promising topic to explore. 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 searching, 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.
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).
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.
Morgan Scheuerman, Foad Hamidi, and I are excited to share findings from Morgan’s master’s thesis regarding how transgender and gender non-conforming people navigate safety in a digital world. More details soon.
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
Dean Bowman nominated me to present a “microtalk” of my work at UMBC’s Interdisciplinary Faculty Social Hour. My opening line: “If this were a nanotalk, I would say ‘people with disabilities deserve technologies that don’t isolate or stigmatize them.’ But it’s a microtalk, so you’re stuck with me for a couple more minutes.”
Our research paper “Gender Recognition or Gender Reductionism?” has been selected to receive a Best Paper Award (top 1% of submissions) at CHI 2018. CHI continues to show its commitment to diversity and inclusion as it helps us raise awareness of transgender safety and wellbeing. Thank you!
I should also add that, when you love who you work with, good things happen. It’s been a delight to collaborate on this project with postdoc Foad Hamidi (coming to the job market in Fall 2018!) and my fabulous MS student advisee, Morgan Scheuerman (check for his application to your PhD programs this Spring!).