Computer Science Seminar: Varsha Koushik (University of Colorado Boulder)
Speaker: Varsha Koushik, University of Colorado Boulder
Title: Empowering People with Disabilities through Accessible User Interfaces
The seminar will be available for Zoom participation. People in the Barnard/Columbia community who have authorized access to Barnard indoor spaces can participate in person if desired. If you would like to receive the Zoom link, please register using the “Register” button above.
Computer science education has become widely popular as a gateway to higher education and lucrative careers. In learning computer science, students can develop life skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and logical thinking. Computer science education can also empower people with disabilities to gain technical knowledge to solve accessibility barriers that they may face in the future, enhance their communication skills, and lead to more self-determination and independence.
This talk will provide an overview of accessibility and Human-Computer Interaction research exploring multimodal tools for inclusive learning and supporting independent living. The projects discussed in this talk will describe creating novel research prototypes that utilize computer vision and augmented reality and analyze them through the lens of three key perspectives in Human-Computer Interaction: user-centered design, participatory design, and ability-based design. The talk will conclude with a discussion on future research areas around designing shareable displays for multi-user contexts and designing educational technologies to expand awareness around privacy and security. This research can lead to accessible adaptive assistive technologies for people with disabilities in the future.
Varsha Koushik is a Ph.D. Candidate in Computer science at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is advised by Shaun Kane, and her research interests lie at the intersection of Human-Computer interaction and accessibility. Varsha’s research focuses on creating accessible smart technologies that empower people with disabilities in their everyday activities. Currently, she is exploring how Augmented Reality(AR) can support people with cognitive disabilities to customize supportive prompts in their daily routines. Varsha’s research has been published at premier international HCI conferences such as CHI, ASSETS, IDC, and VL/HCC, including a Best Paper Honorable Mention Award at CHI 2019. Her work has been recognized by the University of Colorado Boulder through the Hope Schutz Jozsa Award, the PhD Summer Research Fellowship, and the Carol Lynch Memorial Fellowship. She has also been a Coleman Fellow at the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities. Varsha is also the computer science department’s lead teaching assistant (2021-22). Previously, she received her M.S in Computer Science from CU Boulder.