CS:4980:0001 Spr18 Topics in Computer Science II

CS:4980:0001 Spr18 Topics in Computer Science II

Research and Development of Accessible Computing Technologies

CS 4980:0001


Spring 2018

Time and Location:

Tuesday and Thursday: 2-3:15pm in 210 MacLean Hall

Course Website:

ICON course site

The University of Iowa
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department of Computer Science


Instructor: Kyle Rector

Office location: 101K MacLean Hall
Office hours (in 101K MacLean Hall):

  1. Tuesday: 12:30pm-1:30pm
  2. Wednesday: 2-3pm
  3. Thursday: 3:30-4:30pm
  4. I am also available by appointment.

Phone: 319-353-2542
E-mail: kyle-rector@uiowa.edu
DEO: Alberto Maria Segre, alberto-segre@uiowa.edu, 14G MLH


Course Description:

For people with disabilities, the technology we develop may introduce barriers that prohibit access to information. For example, the original touchscreen phones presented most of the information visually, which is inaccessible to people who are blind. In this course, we will read and discuss both seminal and cutting edge research in developing accessible technology. We will cover different types of disabilities, including sensory, motor, and cognitive impairments.

This course is an introduction to the field of accessible technology. This is a mixed undergraduate and graduate level course, so this course involves a comprehensive amount of reading, writing, critical thinking, and discussion. Students will apply their learning in an individual/group project to the design, implementation, and/or evaluation of accessible technologies.


Course Goals and Objectives:

I want students to leave this course with an appreciation for accessibility, knowledge of the different types of disabilities, the technologies that they currently use, a breadth of the types of research in the field, and experience conducting their own research. The Assistive Technology Course at UMBC by Dr. Amy Hurst is an inspiration for this course, and so there may be materials from the Assistive Technology course with my own modifications.

Students will gain experience in the following areas:

  1. Assistive Technology
    1. Identify a range of assistive technologies and understand what accessibility problems they address
    2. Understand of a wide range of user needs
    3. Develop and evaluate assistive technologies
  2. Research
    1. Design, prototype, and/or evaluate an assistive technology
    2. Conduct an independent research project that is relevant to the accessibility field
    3. Schedule and meet deliverables in a research project
    4. Understand requirements to conduct human subject research, if applicable
  3. Communication
    1. Synthesize and critique a research paper
    2. Create and give oral presentations synthesizing research problems, challenges, and results
    3. Communicate a research project during class presentations



I will post required reading assignments on the course website and in ICON: ICON course site


Grading System and the Use of +/-:

Final grades will be determined on a fixed scale. There will be no curve. Students will not compete against each other. The final grade will reflect each student’s efforts and mastering of the course content. This course uses +/- grading. The only way to receive an A+ grade is for exceptional performance that goes beyond course requirements.


Assignments and Percentage of Final Grade:

Final Grade Distribution

Reading Reflections (20%)

In-class Presentations (20%)

Design or Research Project (50%)

Class Participation (10%)



Reading Reflections (20%):

Complete the readings throughout the semester. The purpose of these readings is to give you a background in accessibility, synthesize accessibility research, and prepare you to conduct accessibility research.

I will ask discussion questions or ask you to reflect on your thoughts about the readings. Each reflection should be 400-600 words of thoughtful dialogue in addition to 3-5 discussion questions that you will write for the upcoming class. Submit the reflections through ICON’s discussion feature. You will receive a complete or incomplete grade for each assignment.

During the semester, you have two free incompletes that will not affect your grade. In addition, if you are presenting a paper in class, you are not required to submit a reflection.

Expectations for assignments:

There is no late credit for Reading Reflections because we will use them for in-class discussions.



In-class Presentations (20%):

Everyone will present a research paper in Accessibility twice this semester. I will walk through how to accomplish this task during the first week of classes. The first presentation is a practice run. Three classmates will review your presentation and they will grade on an instructor-developed rubric. The practice presentation and three peer reviews account for 20% of the presentation grade (or 4% of the final grade).

The second half of the semester, we will have viewed and reviewed several practice presentations. With this preparation, each person will complete their official paper presentation worth 80% of the presentation grade (or 16% of the final grade).


Presentation Grade Breakdown

In-class practice presentation and peer reviews (20%)

Second in-class presentation (80%)


Expectations for presentations:

There is no late credit for in-class presentations or reviews because they occur during class. If there is an excused absence, please notify me in advance so that class can move forward.



Design or Research Project (50%):

The project is an opportunity to employ your learning in practice. Each project group can be 1-3 people. The project must focus on one or more populations of people with disabilities (e.g. blind or low vision, deaf or hard of hearing, cognitive impairments, physical impairments, etc.). You have the opportunity to propose the project topic, and the projects can be a new design and/or research study with quantitative and/or qualitative data. The groups will complete each project component together. Submit the components through ICON. I will use a rubric to grade the project assignments based on the given requirements.


Project Deliverables

P1: Project Proposal

P2: Mid-Quarter Presentation

P3: Final Presentation

P4: Final Deliverable


Expectations for projects:

For the group projects, I will deduct points because it is important to make timely progress on your projects. I will penalize late assignments unless you can document exceptional circumstances. I will deduct points as follows: 20% for the first 24 hours, 50% between 24 and 48 hours, and 100% if more than 48 hours late.

A Note on Collaboration:

Your final research project may be collaborative. Students should complete a similar amount of work so that everyone contributes equally to the final project.

However, in the event of continuing evidence of a team member not fully contributing to the team effort, being a disruptive influence on group dynamics, or otherwise negatively affecting team efforts, I reserve the right to lower that team member’s grade on group assignments.

Students who misrepresent themselves as equal partners in this collaborative project but who are actually letting others do the bulk of the work, I will reported to the College for academic dishonesty. If you have questions, it is your responsibility to ask them.



Class Participation (10%):

Participating in the class discussions will help you develop skills in research, critical thinking, and networking. Discussions should be constructive and based on the readings. It is okay to use technology if it supports the discussion. Ask challenging questions and build off one another’s responses. If you find something relevant to the course, feel free to post to the ICON discussion board. In addition, feel free to visit my office hours to chat or talk about the assignments and project.


As a class, we will brainstorm what is good participation. After compiling a list, I will update the syllabus.


Expectations for attendance:

The University suggests that for each semester hour credit in a course, students should expect to spend two hours per week preparing for class sessions. I expect students to attend all lectures and prepare before attending class by completing assignments. I encourage students to be active during class, ask questions, and share relevant experiences.

If you know you will be absent, notify me in advance. If something extenuating occurs and you cannot notify me in advance, I completely understand. Regardless, provide documentation if applicable to make it an excused absence.



Resources for Students:

Students will find the Writing Center and the Speaking Center very useful for this course; the Tutor Iowa site is also very valuable for students seeking extra help:

Writing Center: https://writingcenter.uiowa.edu/

Speaking Center: UIowa Speaking Center

Tutor Iowa: Uiowa Tutoring


Calendar of Course Assignments:

Here is an outline of the topics and assignments. This is subject to change.








Course Introduction, Accessibility Introduction,

Reading research papers

Ungraded reading




History of Disability and Accessibility

Survey of existing Technologies

Reflection 1

Ungraded talk




Universal Design vs. Ability-based Design

Social Implications of Assistive Technologies

Reflections 2 & 3




Research to promote empathy

Project Proposals

Reflection 4

Proposal Presentation




Design for User Empowerment

Group Project Work Time

Ungraded reading

Project Proposal





Reflections 5 & 6




Disability Etiquette

Low Vision

ungraded reading

Reflection 7




Color Blindness, Making your materials accessible

Deaf of Hard of Hearing

ungraded software preparation

Reflections 8 & 9




Spring Break





Group Project Work Time

Project Updates

Project Update Presentations




Project Updates

Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Project Update Presentations

Project Update Reports, Reflection 10




Cognitive Impairments

Reflections 11 & 12




Physical Impairments

Reflections 13 & 14




Mental Health

No class

Reflection 15





Older Adults

Reflections 16 & 17


5/1, 5/3

Final Project Presentations

Final Project Presentation Slides and Deliverable





Administrative Home

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the administrative home of this course and governs matters such as the add/drop deadlines, the second-grade-only option, and other related issues. Different colleges may have different policies. Questions may be addressed to 120 Schaeffer Hall, or see the CLAS Academic Policies Handbook at Uiowa Student Handbook.

Electronic Communication

University policy specifies that students are responsible for all official correspondences sent to their University of Iowa e-mail address (@uiowa.edu). Faculty and students should use this account for correspondences (Operations Manual, III.15.2).

Accommodations for Disabilities

The University of Iowa is committed to providing an educational experience that is accessible to all students. A student may request academic accommodations for a disability (which includes but is not limited to mental health, attention, learning, vision, and physical or health-related conditions). A student seeking academic accommodations should first register with Student Disability Services and then meet with the course instructor privately in the instructor's office to make particular arrangements. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between the student, instructor, and SDS. See Student Disability Services for information.

Nondiscrimination in the Classroom

The University of Iowa is committed to making the classroom a respectful and inclusive space for all people irrespective of their gender, sexual, racial, religious or other identities. Toward this goal, students are invited to optionally share their preferred names and pronouns with their instructors and classmates. The University of Iowa prohibits discrimination and harassment against individuals on the basis of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, and other identity categories set forth in the University’s Human Rights policy. For more information, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, diversity@uiowa.edu, or visit diversity.uiowa.edu.

Academic Honesty

All CLAS students or students taking classes offered by CLAS have, in essence, agreed to the College's Code of Academic Honesty: "I pledge to do my own academic work and to excel to the best of my abilities, upholding the IOWA Challenge. I promise not to lie about my academic work, to cheat, or to steal the words or ideas of others; nor will I help fellow students to violate the Code of Academic Honesty." Any student committing academic misconduct is reported to the College and placed on disciplinary probation or may be suspended or expelled (CLAS Academic Policies Handbook).

CLAS Final Examination Policies

The final examination schedule for each class is announced by the Registrar generally by the fifth week of classes. Final exams are offered only during the official final examination period. No exams of any kind are allowed during the last week of classes. All students should plan on being at the UI through the final examination period. Once the Registrar has announced the date, time, and location of each final exam, the complete schedule will be published on the Registrar's web site and will be shared with instructors and students. It is the student's responsibility to know the date, time, and place of a final exam.

Making a Suggestion or a Complaint

Students with a suggestion or complaint should first visit with the instructor (and the course supervisor), and then with the departmental DEO. Complaints must be made within six months of the incident (CLAS Academic Policies Handbook).

Understanding Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment subverts the mission of the University and threatens the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. All members of the UI community have a responsibility to uphold this mission and to contribute to a safe environment that enhances learning. Incidents of sexual harassment should be reported immediately. See the UI Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator for assistance, definitions, and the full University policy.

Reacting Safely to Severe Weather

In severe weather, class members should seek appropriate shelter immediately, leaving the classroom if necessary. The class will continue if possible when the event is over. For more information on Hawk Alert and the siren warning system, visit the Department of Public Safety website.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due
CC Attribution This course content is offered under a CC Attribution license. Content in this course can be considered under this license unless otherwise noted.