Sina Bahram to present an accessible, gesture-based approach to controlling classroom technology


There are any number of reasons one might attend a particular session at the upcoming 28th annual International Assistive Technology and Persons with Disabilities conference. You might want to learn more about a ground-breaking awareness project, you might want to learn a new skill, you might want to find fresh inspiration for your own work. One reason to attend Sina Bahram’s session is that he has helped to solve a problem that has affected educators, lecturers, or corporate presenters who are blind or visually impaired, as well as people who use tech automation in the workplace. He will discuss an accessible, gesture-based approach to controlling the technology in either a classroom or corporate setting.

Sina Bahram is a technical consultant and accessibility researcher pursuing his PhD in the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University. His field of research is Human Computer Interaction (HCI) with a focus on the use of innovative environments and multi-modal approaches to facilitate eyes-free exploration of highly graphical information. Combining artificial intelligence, intelligent user interfaces (IUI), and HCI, Sina devises innovative and user-centered solutions to difficult real-world problems.

Bahram’s session will show you how an instructor who is blind can independently give a presentation. typically, when using the technology available to a sighted presenter, there are barriers imposed by the device that is used to control the projector, the microphone, document camera, and other input devices. This controller, usually either a Crestron or AMX technology box, allows for many inputs that can be managed by way of a touch screen. This touch screen interface is inaccessible to blind instructors, and presents numerous difficulties for a speaker or educator with low or no vision. For example, without sighted assistance, there is no way to know the state of readiness of the technology being used. There is no feedback alerting the presenter as to whether the projector is warmed up, or how he or she might adjust the volume level of the audio. Bahram will discuss and demonstrate how this approach to an embedded system allows blind or vision-impaired instructors to control classroom technology.

The project is a collaboration between North Carolina State University, Bahram, Ron Jailall, who works in control systems programming and classroom design, and Greg Kraus, who is Coordinator of Campus Accessibility. They have devised an approach whereby simple gestures, swipe up, down, and to the right, are used to move about various screen elements. Further, computer-generated speech is used to provide menu and status information.

“We have an underrepresentation of persons with disabilities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” says Bahram. “In particular, people who are blind or visually impaired. This is one of the approaches that can help address this problem, in a small way, without having to depend upon a teaching assistant or student to assist. Now, a blind instructor can manage classroom technology independently.”

No matter the context in which you give presentations, craft accessibility policy or purchase tech for employees or students who are blind, this session is for you. No special skill level is required to attend. All are welcome. Sina will be available for questions, demonstrations, and further discussion, at any time you can catch him throughout the conference week.

More about Sina Bahram:
In 2012, Sina was recognized as one of President Barack Obama’s Champions of Change for his work in enabling users with disabilities to succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. You can read more about Sina and his research on his website, www.SinaBahram.com, or follow him on Twitter via @SinaBahram.

Be sure to check out the links below for more information.

For further ways to contact Sina, see his contact page at:

http://www.SinaBahram.com/contact.php

Read Bahram’s blog here:

http://blog.SinaBahram.com

Discussion of an Eyes-Free Approach to Controlling Classroom Tech:

Demonstration of an Eyes-Free Approach to Controlling Classroom Tech:

For more videos on other topics, Sina’s YouTube channel is at:

http://www.YouTube.com/sbahram

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #CSUN13 when tweeting about the event.

LL