Doctoral Consortium for ASSETS 2019

This is funding to support a Doctoral Consortium (workshop) of approximately 15 promising graduate students (up to 10 from the United States, who will be funded by this award), along with about 5 distinguished research faculty. The event will take place on October 26-27, immediately preceding and in conjunction with the 21st International Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2019), to be held October 28-30, 2019, in Pittsburgh, PA. The ASSETS conferences are the premier forum for presenting innovative research on the design and use of both mainstream and specialized assistive technologies in support of the needs associated with speech, motor, hearing, and vision impairments, cognitive limitations, emotional and learning disabilities, and aging, as well as the professionals who work with these populations. Researchers and developers from around the world, in both academia and industry, will meet at ASSETS 2019 to exchange ideas and present their latest work. For the first time this year, ASSETS is expanding its scope to include original high-quality research on topics related to education in computing accessibility. A key component of building any community is through its youth. The Doctoral Consortium will help expand the participation of young researchers pursuing graduate studies in this field, by providing them an opportunity to gain wider exposure in the community for their innovative work and to obtain feedback and guidance from senior researchers and peers. It will foster a sense of community among these young researchers by allowing them to create a social network at a critical stage in their professional development. Because the students and faculty constitute a diverse group across a variety of dimensions, including nationality/cultural and scientific discipline, the students’ horizons are broadened to the future benefit of the field. The organizers will take steps to promote participation from institutions with relatively large numbers of students from under-represented groups. To further increase diversity, the organizers will aim for institutional diversity, gender diversity, and participation from members of minority groups underrepresented in science and engineering.

The ASSETS 2019 Doctoral Consortium will be a research-focused meeting of an international group of selected Ph.D. candidates and an international panel of distinguished research faculty. The event will be composed of two parts: (1) informal introductions and conversation (October 26); and (2) a more formal all-day workshop, which will include a mixture of student presentations, feedback, and small group discussions (October 27). Doctoral Consortium participants will also present their work in a poster session during the conference itself. The workshop will provide an opportunity for graduate students from diverse backgrounds (computing, engineering, psychology, architecture, etc.) to come together and explore their research interests in an interdisciplinary workshop, under the guidance of the principal investigator and a panel of experts, so that they can appreciate the broader spectrum of research and development approaches to assistive technologies and universal usability, and also experience the community in which they can pursue their endeavors. Student participants will make formal presentations of their work during the workshop and will receive constructive feedback from the faculty panel. The feedback is designed to help students understand and articulate how their work is positioned relative to related research, whether their topics are adequately focused for thesis research projects, whether their methods are correctly chosen and applied, and whether their results are appropriately analyzed and presented. Thus, the consortium will help shape ongoing and future research projects aimed at assistive technologies and universal access, will promote scholarship and networking among new researchers in these interdisciplinary fields, and will also expose the young researchers to a larger community. In addition, the faculty will give a presentation on job opportunities for researchers both in academia and in industry, to better inform the students when considering career options. An evaluation of the consortium will be carried out and the results made available to the organizers of future such events.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

July 2019 - July 2020

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