Last month I attended the ASSETS conference for the second time. ASSETS is the flagship conference for the ACM special interest group on accessible technology (SIGACCESS). Even in the face of recent growth, ASSETS remains a single track conference, keeping the numbers of attendees around 150 and thus keeping everyone in the same room. That makes it easier to get a sense of the major players in the community and details about the set of most important topics for this community. ASSETS this year was in Rochester NY, two years ago I attended in Boulder CO. ASSETS 2015 will be in Portugal—we’ll see if they do as good a job!

Rochester was a great place for ASSETS, as the host schools Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Rochester both have large groups focused on disability issues–RIT hosted the reception in a building dedicated to research on disabilities. It was eye-opening to go to one of the floors populated by deaf researchers—clearly the culture was to use sign language to communicate, and they were in the process of accomplishing great things. I’d encourage any student or researcher who wants to develop interfaces for people with sensory impairments to look closely at RIT. A second reception was at Rochester’s Strong Museum of Play—great fun. Other conference highlights include a well-attended poster session and some excellent paper sessions.

The biggest presence seemed to be from UMBC with 17 people, thanks to Amy Hurst and the recently departed Shaun Kane and their students leading many papers and posters and such. Hosts RIT and U of R had groups in attendance, along with the University of Colorado, the University of Washington, IBM, and others. We had a good VT crowd in attendance, with Ph.D. students Bobby Beaton and Shuo Niu along with alums Walter Lasecki and Stacy Branham. Walter is finishing up at U of R (and CMU, sort of, as his advisor moved there) and Stacy is in the middle of a postdoc at UMBC.  Hire them!  Hire them all!

2014-10-21 23.41.58

Hokies past and present at ASSETS 2014.

So who should submit to this conference? The dominant presence focuses on researchers who look at physical disabilities, though there are a good number of papers that consider cognitive disabilities instead.  Just about every paper included some sort of user testing, with a focus to include people with disabilities in the testing. Clearly there were a lot of regulars at the conference, but it seems to be a welcoming community that wants to grow and include other researchers (though if it grows much larger I worry it will lose some of its intimacy). I’m not sure I’ll make it to Portugal next year, but I suspect I’ll make another appearance at ASSETS some time in the future.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: