Friday, November 13, 2009

"Teaching the Web to Speak and Be Understood," Dr. Jeffrey P. Bigham, University of Rochester

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 @ 4-5 PM
Room 2116 Hornbake Building, South Wing
"Teaching the Web to Speak and Be Understood "
Dr. Jeffrey P. Bigham, University of Rochester
Tuesday, 4-5 pm, HBK 2116


In this talk I'll describe my efforts to teach the web speak and be understood in order to improve web access for blind people.

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.

About the speaker:

Jeffrey P. 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 B.S.E degree in Computer Science in 2003 from Princeton University, and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. 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 two ASSETS Best Student Paper Awards, the Microsoft Imagine Cup Accessible Technology Award, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award for Technology Collaboration, and Technology Review’s Top 35 Innovators Under 35 Award.

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