SCS Doctoral Dissertation Award Lecture

  • Assistant Professor, The Information School, University of Washington
Distinguished Lecture Series

Flipping the Burden: Making Computers Accessible with Everyday Input Devices

Despite more than 20 years of research in computer access, user interfaces still pose accessibility challenges for people with motor and visual impairments. The approach of augmenting or adapting users to standard software through specialized assistive technologies has numerous drawbacks, including the cost, complexity, configuration, and maintenance of specialized devices. As a result, only 60% of people who indicate a need for a specialized assistive technologies actually try one, and abandonment rates are high. My research approaches accessibility differently. Rather than adapting people to computers using specialized devices, I adapt software to people using everyday devices like mice, trackballs, styli, and microphones, lowering the aforementioned barriers to access. In this talk, I will show how my dissertation work on EdgeWrite has led to other projects in a theme I call “ability-based design.” I will also offer some reflections after two years as an Assistant Professor having graduated from CMU.

Speaker Bio:

Jacob O. Wobbrock is an Assistant Professor in the Information School and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. His research interests are in user interface technology, human performance with computing systems, input techniques and models, computer access, and mobile user interfaces. Professor Wobbrock received his Ph.D. from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where his dissertation received the SCS Distinguished Dissertation Award for 2006-2007. He also earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Symbolic Systems and Computer Science, respectively, from Stanford University. From 2004-2008, Professor Wobbrock won 3 CHI best paper awards and another at ASSETS. He also won the 1st place NISH National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation and Design in 2005, and was a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow in 2004. Professor Wobbrock has held industry positions at Google, DoDots, Microsoft Research, Intel Corporation, and the Intel-Mattel Smart Toy Lab. He is currently PI or Co-PI on two National Science Foundation grants to develop accessible user interface technologies.

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Catherine Copetas,