Abstract: Widely used technologies that support remote collaboration and content production (e.g., Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Zoom) contribute to ongoing issues of inequity for people with disabilities. These tools do not always allow for the same level of usability and efficiency for disabled people as their able-bodied peers experience. As workplaces and educational institutes continue to adopt more technology-driven, hybrid models during the pandemic, existing equity gaps are likely to increase without a holistic understanding of accessibility in content production and new tools and techniques to support accessible collaboration. My research addresses this challenge by studying, designing, and building accessible collaborative content production systems for ability-diverse teams, i.e., teams involving people with and without disabilities. In this talk, I will overview two main directions I am pursuing to enhance collaboration among blind and sighted people: collaborative writing and collaborative making. Drawing upon my interviews and observations with blind professionals and long-term ethnographic research within a community of blind fiber artists, I will explain the technological, social, and organizational factors that shape accessibility in collaborativework. Then I will demonstrate a variety of auditory techniques and systems I have developed to support blind people in maintaining collaboration awareness and coordinating joint activities with sighted collaborators in the contexts of writing and weaving. I will conclude by discussing my future research plans on improving accessibility in collaboration, creativity, and learning.
Bio: Maitraye Das is a final year PhD candidate in Technology and Social Behavior, a joint doctoral program in Computer Science and Communication at Northwestern University. Her research sits at the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, and Accessible Computing, with a particular focus on studying and designing for accessible collaborative content creation in ability-diverse teams. Maitraye has published in premier HCI venues including ACM’s CHI, CSCW, ASSETS, TOCHI, and TACCESS. Her work has been recognized with two Best Paper Awards, three Best Paper Honorable Mentions, and a Diversity and Inclusion Award at top conferences including CHI and CSCW. She has also received a Computer Science PhD Student Research Award and two research grants from Northwestern University. In 2021, Maitraye was selected as a Rising Star in EECS by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.