This is funding to support a doctoral consortium (workshop) of approximately 10 promising graduate students from the United States and abroad, along with 5 distinguished research faculty. The event will take place on Sunday, October 23, immediately preceding and in conjunction with the 13th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2011), to be held Monday-Wednesday, October 24-26, in Dundee, Scotland. The ASSETS conferences are the premier forum for presenting innovative research on the design and use of both mainstream and specialized assistive technologies. This includes the use of technology by and in support of: individuals with hearing, sight and other sensory impairments; individuals with motor impairments; individuals with memory, learning and cognitive impairments; individuals with multiple impairments; older adults; and professionals who work with these populations. Researchers and developers from around the world in both academia and industry will meet to exchange ideas and present their latest work . More information about the conference may be found at www.sigaccess.org/assets11.
A key component of building this community is through its youth. The ASSETS 2011 doctoral consortium will provide an opportunity for graduate students from diverse backgrounds (computing, engineering, psychology, architecture, etc.) to come together and explore their research interests in an interdisciplinary workshop, under the guidance of the PI and a panel of other distinguished experts in the field, so that they can appreciate the broader spectrum of research and development approaches to assistive technologies and universal usability, and also experience the community in which they can pursue their endeavors. Student participants will make formal presentations of their work during the consortium, and will receive constructive feedback from the faculty panel. The feedback is designed to help students understand and articulate how their work is positioned relative to related research, whether their topics are adequately focused for thesis research projects, whether their methods are correctly chosen and applied, and whether their results are appropriately analyzed and presented. Thus, the consortium will help shape ongoing and future research projects aimed at assistive technologies and universal access, will promote scholarship and networking among new researchers in this emerging interdisciplinary area, and will also expose these promising young researchers to a larger community. In an effort to further integrate doctoral consortium participants into the conference itself, a poster session has been set aside in the technical program to allow all doctoral consortium participants to present their research to the full conference. In addition, one student from the doctoral consortium will be selected to deliver the closing plenary presentation. An evaluation of the consortium will be conducted and the results made available to the organizers of future such events.
Broader Impacts: The doctoral consortium will help expand the participation of young researchers pursuing graduate studies in this field, by providing them an opportunity to gain wider exposure in the community for their innovative work and to obtain feedback and guidance from senior members of the research community. It will further help foster a sense of community among these young researchers, by allowing them to create a social network both among themselves and with senior researchers at a critical stage in their professional development. Because the students and faculty constitute a diverse group across a variety of dimensions, including nationality/cultural and scientific discipline, the students' horizons are broadened to the future benefit of the field. The organizers will also take special steps to promote participation from institutions with relatively large numbers of students from under-represented groups.
. This was a daylong workshop in which 11 PhD students from the USA, Canada, Germany, Portugal, Scotland, and Spain presented their research on using computer technology to assist people with disabilities. Student work included automatic summarization of graphs for blind people, helping people with brain injuries deal with problems in driving, using vibration in smart phones to convey more information, using the Web to assist users with reading problems, and understanding why lonely older people may choose not to use social networking software. The participating students got the benefit of suggestions on their research plans from their fellow students, as well as from a panel of five faculty mentors from universities and industrial research labs in the USA and Europe. The workshop also included a discussion of job and career prospects, with advice to the students in preparing for a successful job search. The students later presented their work to the attendees of the conference, and have also published abstracts of their work. Experience in past years has shown that these workshops are very effective in developing future leaders of the research community in disability and technology.