Research

I am active in many aspects of the global Human-Centered Computing research community.  I have served on multiple agenda setting research advisory boards in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and on multiple editorial boards.  I have led program committees, and chaired conferences, and was one of the members of the group that, in 2007, worked to define an NSF research agenda in Human-Centered Computing.  I have worked within the SIGCHI community and its conference, CHI, in various capacities, most recently as Chair for the CHI’13 Usability, Accessibility, and User Experience Subcommittee. Significantly, I revitalized the ACM’s Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing (SIGACCESS), established a successful annual conference in this field, and, together with Andrew Sears, founded its premier journal ensuring that high-quality research has a suitable archival outlet.

My research is in the area of Human-Centered Computing and draws heavily on computer science, applied psycholinguistics, and cognitive psychology.  My long-term aim is creating information technology that is easily used and useful to all, regardless of their perceptual, motor, or cognitive abilities.  My work contains a strong multi-disciplinary component and has been done in collaboration with researchers, practitioners, and industry leaders at institutions across North America and the United Kingdom.

Over the last several decades, interactive computers have changed dramatically.  They now appear in (or are hidden within) a variety of form factors and sizes and are used by a diversity of users for a vast range of purposes.  This significant broadening of usage demands that information technology be useable by those who, in the past, did not or could not make use of it.  My research focuses on these users, assessing their needs, and designing new technology such that a broad spectrum of the population may benefit.  In particular, my emphasis has been on those who through physical or cognitive impairment could either benefit from new applications (such as software using sign language to promote the reading skills of deaf children) or require that interfaces to existing applications adapt to their abilities.

My choice of research problems has been influenced by a variety of factors including the specific needs of under-served populations, personal interests in questions related to the acquisition of language and reading skills, technical issues surrounding the adaptation of both user interfaces and application content, and industry needs.  These interests have resulted in research on technology for aging (funded by the Royal Society, UK Research Councils, and Google), accessible software (supported by IBM Corporate funding, donated by IBM to multiple charitable organizations, and receiving many external awards), reading and sign language (funded through 3 US NIH grants), the development of education technology for teachers and K-12 Internet access (made widely available in North America and receiving multiple IBM awards).