EAAI Mentored Undergraduate Research Challenge:
AI for Accessibility in Communication
- The purpose of the mentored undergraduate research challenge is to provide undergraduate students exposure to the complete research life-cycle through the guidance of a mentor familiar with the research life-cycle. The research life-cycle includes all the steps from identifying a problem, to hypothesizing solutions, to implementation and experimentation, to ultimately reporting results in a written publication.
- Participating teams will submit a manuscript of their research project for peer review at the EAAI-24 Symposium, which is collocated with AAAI-24. Teams with accepted papers will have their submission published and presented at the EAAI-24 Symposium.
- Research challenge teams must include:
- At least one undergraduate (including community college) student,
- At least one mentor (faculty or with a Ph.D.),
- Anyone else, but the undergraduate student must be involved in the majority of the research and the mentor must provide regular guidance to the team.
- The objective of this year's challenge is to perform and publish research on AI for accessbility in communication. The project should be doable within one semester or summer---be sure to keep the project simple and doable, addressing a single question if your problem is large. There are many possible projects in this understudied area of research; some examples include, but are not limited to:
- Augmented and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices that generate information on behalf of people with trouble speaking, typing, or communicating,
- Present information to people who are visually and/or hearing impaired,
- Translate content (with respect to language and/or culture) for others to understand it,
- Showcase content creators' works to interested persons who might not find it normally,
- Effective communication of ideas, such as summarizing documents or addressing buzzwords,
- And more! Check out Project Ideas below to get some inspiration.
- An introduction to this year's challenge can be found in an upcoming arXiv preprint.
- Submission deadlines and the peer review timeline will follow those at EAAI 2024. Paper submissions must:
- Accepted papers will be presented at EAAI 2024 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on February 24 or 25, 2024.
- Submission Deadline: September 10, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. UTC-12 (anywhere on Earth)
- Paper Notification: December 9, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. UTC-12 (anywhere on Earth)
- EAAI 2024: Februrary 24 and 25, 2023
- If you have a team who is interested in participating, then please contact Rick Freedman (rfreedman at sift dot net) with:
- Team member names,
- Team member e-mail addresses, and
- Note who are the undergraduate(s) and mentor(s) on the team.
- Why register your team?
- Non-commital: registration is not a requirement to participate, but it lets the organizers know your team is considering participation.
- "Customer service": if your team has any questions about the challenge, then we can do our best to answer them.
- Updates: we can send teams updates about the challenge, including new resources, timeline changes, and deadline reminders.
- Program committee: to provide peer reviews to all submissions, we need to form a program committee of researchers familiar with undergraduate research. If we can estimate the number of submissions, then we can make sure our program committee is large enough to avoid reviewing delays. It would be appreciated, but not required, if team mentors are also willing to serve on the program committee and review other teams' submissions---there is no conflict-of-interest because this is a challenge for undergraduates to experience the complete research life-cycle, not a competition for the best research.
We plan to share more resources as they become available. If you have any relevant resources that you recommend, then please send them to Rick Freedman (rfreedman at sift dot net) for consideration. Disclaimer: None of these resources are endorsements or advertisements. The organizers identified these as useful materials and are sharing them for educational benefit.
Many references are listed in the arXiv preprint for this year's challenge, but additional resources about both the topic and undergraduate research are listed below:
- CRA's CONQUER website - Resources for faculty and undergraduate students interested in research, graduate school, and research careers in computer science.
- Morris, Meredith Ringel. "AI and Accessibility: A Discussion of Ethical Considerations." In Communications of the ACM, Volume 63, Number 6, p. 35-37, 2020.
- Katan, David. "Cultural Approaches to Translation." In The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics, John Wiley & Sons, 2012.
- Abou-Zahra, Shadi; Brewer, Judy; and Cooper, Michael. "AI for Web Accessibility: Is Conformance Evaluation a Way Forward?." In Proceedings of the 15th International Web for All Conference, p. 1-4, 2018.
- Dr. Keith Trnka has several publications about word prediction for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices.
- Wald, Mike. "AI Data-Driven Personalisation and Disability Inclusion." In Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence, 2021.
The challenge this year involves making technologies accessible. However, teams with a focus in artificial intelligence are not expected to have a background in accessibility. To learn about accessibility concepts for the challenge, here are some basic resources to get started.
- First of all, talk to subject matter experts and members of your target audience. Research includes learning about your problem, not just solving it! Informational interviews and focus groups can provide insights and feedback for your research efforts. You can read about people's experiences and expertise for additional background:
- Mizaku, Cindy. "Including People with Disabilities in the Process of Tech Development Starts by Addressing Technoableism." Stony Brook Media Showcase, September 2022.
- Smith, Peter and Smith, Laura. "Artificial Intelligence and Disability: Too Much Promise, Yet Too Little Substance?" In AI and Ethics, p. 81-86, 2021.
- Hooda, Samreen. "Verbal Victor: Inventor of App to Talk with His Disabled Son Finds App Helping People All Over the World." HuffPost, September 2012.
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) article by The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which introduces many forms of AAC and explains the benefits of interacting with a speech-language pathologist (SLP).
- AI for Accessibility webpage by Microsoft contains many resources, applications, examples, and funding opportunities.
- Introduction to Web Accessibility and Accessibility, Usability, and Inclusion articles by The World Wide Web Consortium, which discuss the many ways that content on the internet need to be accessible and why they matter.
- IllegallySighted webpage by Jesse Anderson provides resources and insights about accessibility for technology (especially videogame-related tech).
- If your team plans to approach accessibility through broadening reach between communities, then be sure to consider the importance of understanding both groups. Translation is not as simple as converting words between languages:
Far from a complete list of things a team could research, but the first step in the research life-cycle is to observe the world and come up with some questions you want to answer. Check out the videos below for some related research projects and video-inspired questions to get started brainstorming. What will your team investigate?
Past EAAI Mentored Undergraduate Research Challenge Topics: