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Guest Lecture: "Transforming Accessibility Through New Mobile and Wearable Technologies" with Dr. Leah Findlater

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017
10 - 11:15 a.m.
Odegaard Library Room 220

Today’s computing technologies — from smartphones to wearables to embedded computation — comprise an ecosystem with immense potential to accommodate individual user needs and preferences. Without inclusive design, however, these same technologies will leave millions of people underserved. The overarching goals of my research are, first, to ensure equitable access to emerging technologies for persons with a range of physical, sensory, and cognitive abilities, and, second, to create new solutions that enhance those abilities. This talk will provide an overview of my group’s research, with example projects within each of these two threads of work. To ensure equitable access for users with dexterity impairments, for example, we are identifying and addressing touchscreen accessibility challenges and deriving new methods to increase the scale at which we can study these challenges. For augmenting abilities, we are designing, building, and evaluating new wearable technologies, including head-mounted display solutions to increase sound awareness for users who are deaf and hard-of-hearing and to support communication for users with aphasia. I will close the talk with a reflection on the implications of our research and directions for future work.


Leah Findlater is an Assistant Professor in the College of Information Studies and the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. She directs the Inclusive Design Lab, whose mission is to lower barriers to technology use and information access for users with a range of physical, sensory, and cognitive abilities. She has published over 50 papers in top-tier academic venues, nine of which have been recognized with Best Paper or Honorable Mention awards at ACM CHI. She holds an NSF CAREER Award and her research is funded by NSF, the Department of Defense, Nokia and Google. Before moving to Maryland, she received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia and spent two years at the University of Washington as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow.

Contact:  Rachelle Bernard (