Friday, April 09, 2010
11:00 AM
Computer Studies Bldg. Room 209
Dr. Richard Ladner
University of Washington
New Directions in Accessible Computing
Accessible computing refers to software and hardware solutions that make computers and other aspects of life more accessible to persons with disabilities. Many technologies specifically designed for persons with disabilities become mainstream technologies. Examples include personal texting that was designed for deaf people to communicate over phone lines, optical character recognition that was designed so that blind people could read books, and speech recognition that was designed in part for people, who are unable to use a keyboard, to speak to a computer instead. In this talk, new directions in accessible computing will be described. The new directions assume that persons with disabilities can create or configure their own accessibility solutions. This non-paternalistic approach respects the ability of persons with disabilities to determine their own destinies. Accessibility research done at the University of Washington that follows this model will be described. One example is the ASL-STEM Forum, a social networking site where deaf students and scientists can share signs for scientific terms and discuss them. Another example is the MobileAccessibility project where blind people can download applications to their cell phones that provide an accessibility feature such as using the camera to capture a barcode and give the name of the product. The MobileAccessibility approach harnesses the sensors on modern cell phones together with automatic and human-powered web services to solve accessibility problems. These projects are joint with Jeff Bigham at the University of Rochester.

Bio: Richard E. Ladner, Boeing Professor in Computer Science and Engineering, graduated from St. Mary's College of California with a B.S. in 1965 and received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1971, at which time he joined the faculty of the University of Washington. In addition to his appointment in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, he is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and in the Department of Linguistics. After many years of research in theoretical computer science he has turned his attention to accessibility technology research, especially technology for deaf, deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing, and blind people. He continues to work in design and analysis of algorithms, cache performance of algorithms, network algorithms for media-on-demand, data compression algorithms. He has continuing interests in automata based computational complexity theory and distributed computing.

He has supervised or co-supervised nineteen students on their Ph.D. dissertations and six on their M.S. theses. He has supervised numerous undergraduate research projects and coordinates the Undergraduate Research Seminar in CSE. From 1994 to 2005, as part of the DO-IT Project, he held a one week summer workshop for disabled high school students encouraging them to pursue college programs and careers in science, mathematics, and engineering. In 2006 he organized the Vertical Mentoring Workshop for the Blind in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. He organized the Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Computing in 2007-2009.

He has served as an Area Editor for the Journal of the Association of Computing Machinery, Editor for SIAM Journal on Computing, and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Computer and System Sciences. He is currently on the Editorial Boards for Theory of Computing Systems, ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing, and Communications of the ACM.

He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985-86 and a Fulbright Scholar in 1993. He served as Pacific Region Representative on the Council of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). He served as Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group in Algorithms and Computation Theory (SIGACT) from 2005-2009. He is an ACM Fellow and IEEE Fellow. He is a recipient of the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). He is the recipient of the 2008 Computing Research Association's A. Nico Habermann Award. He is a winner of a 2008 Purpose Prize. He was the Outstanding Service Award winner at the University of Washington in 2009. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University.

He can often be found holding office hours at the driving range where he is trying to perfect golf swing. He is fluent in American Sign Language and computer science theorese.