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Colloquium - Bigham

Effective and Ubiquitous Access for Blind People
University of Rochester
11/3/2009
3:30pm-5:00pm

The web is an unparalleled information resource, but remains difficult and frustrating to use for millions of blind and low vision people. My work attempts to achieve effective personalized access for blind web users with applications that benefit all users, even sighted ones. I'll discuss the following projects to demonstrate how: (i) Usable CAPTCHAs dramatically improve the success rate of blind users on CAPTCHA problems and illustrate the potential of improving an individual interaction, (ii) TrailBlazer helps users efficiently connect interactions together by predicting what users might want to do next, and (iii) WebAnywhere adds speech output to any web page without installing new software, even on locked-down public terminals. These projects have made significant advances in web accessibility and usability for blind web users, and yielded general lessons applicable for adapting, personalizing, and delivering better content to all users.

Moving forward, I'm exploring projects that take crowdsourcing accessibility beyond the web and into the real world. Mobile phones with cameras, GPS, microphones, and other sensors are ubiquitous. How can we provide tools that let blind people use their phones to make better sense of their visual environments in the real world? I'll describe early successes in this space achieved by using these sensors to connect people with remote workers and outline a number of usability challenges that need to be addressed to fully realize this potential.

Jeffrey Bigham is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Rochester and currently a Visiting Scientist at MIT CSAIL. Jeffrey received his BSE degree in Computer Science in 2003 from Princeton University, and his MSc and PhD degrees both in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington in 2005 and 2009, respectively. His work centers on web adaptation and automation, with a specific focus on how to enable blind people and others to collaboratively improve their own web experiences. For his work, he has won numerous awards, including the Microsoft Imagine Cup Accessible Technology Award, the W4A Accessibility Challenge Delegate's Award, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award for Technology Collaboration, and Technology Review's Top 35 Innovators Under 35 Award.

Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado Boulder
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