CS Table 10/16/18: Experience of blind software engineers

We will discuss two articles that describe the experiences of two blind software engineers. My hope is that our discussion will wander into a broader consideration of accessibility, the challenges that people with disabilities face when they work in the computing industry, and the responsibilities of all software developers to consider accessibility.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00–12:50pm in JRC 224C (inside the Marketplace). Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department (sign in at the Marketplace front desk).

Thursday Extra 10/13: Accessible Computing

Thursday, October 13, 2016
4:15 p.m. in Science 3821
Refreshments at 4:00 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Science 3817)

Kyle Rector, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at The University of Iowa, will talk about accessible computing for all.

One in six people have a disability, whether hidden or apparent. It is important for designers to create technologies that are accessible to people of different backgrounds. After outlining the research that Rector and others have conducted in computer science to improve access and wellness for people with disabilities, the talk will focus on two research projects: 1) Eyes-Free Yoga, an accessible yoga exercise game that provides auditory instructions and feedback for people who are blind or low vision, and 2) Eyes-Free Art, a system that allows people who are blind or low vision to explore 2D paintings using audio techniques. A discussion of future research opportunities in accessibility and computer science will conclude the presentation.

Thursday Extra 5/5: Increasing Access to STEM for Blind Students

Catie Baker from the University of Washington will talk about increasing access to STEM for blind students.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
4:15 pm in Science-3821
Snacks at 4 in the CS Commons.

This talk will focus on two of Baker's research projects. Tactile Graphics with a Voice (TGV) proposes an alternative to Braille labels on tactile graphics. Many people who are blind do not know Braille, and Braille is often too large to fit on the graphic anyway, so Baker's team proposes using QR codes instead, which can be read aloud by smartphones. They created a smartphone app which can provide guidance to a blind user to help them scan the QR codes. Baker will also present StructJumper, an Eclipse plugin which creates a hierarchical tree based on the nesting structure of a Java class. As screen readers are linear in nature, it can be difficult for a blind programmer to quickly skim or move around in the code. StructJumper presents a new way for blind programmers to navigate the code using its structure.

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