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John Pane <[log in to unmask]>
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John Pane <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 7 Feb 2006 15:34:54 -0500
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       Universal Information Access Through Multimodal Interaction
                Graduate Student Consortium at VL/HCC'06
              Brighton, United Kingdom, September 4-8, 2006

            Grants for Graduate Students and Outside Experts


Graduate students and other researchers whose work is related to the
research theme below are invited to participate in a Graduate Student
Consortium at the 2006 IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and
Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC'06).

VL/HCC'06 has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation
(NSF) to cover travel expenses to attend the conference in Brighton,
United Kingdom, on September 4-8, 2006. Eligibility for this funding is
limited to students and other researchers from U.S. universities and
research institutions; however, participants from outside the U.S. are
encouraged to obtain other support to participate in this event.

Research Theme
How can designers of digital devices and environments better address
universal access issues through multiple modes of interaction?

Operation of digital devices is increasingly necessary in our
information society, to locate, retrieve, and manipulate information,
whenever it is needed, wherever it may reside. Providing these
capabilities to all people, including those who are disadvantaged by
their background, education, learning style, environment, or physical
ability, is a universal access problem.

In this event, we aim to explore all aspects of universal access, with a
special emphasis on multimodal interaction. The goal is to stimulate
researchers' thinking on how the designs of tools and devices affect
users' willingness and ability to access, manipulate, and program their
information systems. What are the special needs of disadvantaged
populations and how can designers best support them? Although the focus
is on disadvantaged user groups, gains made by addressing the needs of
these populations may well enhance usability for all users. We encourage
submissions that explore interaction metaphors that utilize and combine
input methods beyond the keyboard and mouse and output methods beyond a
two-dimensional display; and that investigate the roles of mobile
devices such as smart phones, PDAs, or wearable computers.

Digital devices are in general created by a highly educated and
privileged class of technology developers who all too frequently have
little knowledge of the special needs of disadvantaged  populations.
Whether intentional or not, these developers embed their own value
systems in the languages and tools they provide. We will explore ideas
about how to analyze and respond to the special needs of disadvantaged
populations as an integral component of the design process.

Previous approaches relevant to increasing access to information have
been to provide only simplistic solutions, such as search engines. While
search engines do provide information useful in simple situations, they
are not powerful enough.  We aim to look beyond surface-level
interactions to consider an area of true information power: programming.
Improving programming languages and tools through methods such as
multimodal interaction will help to ensure that all groups are able to
learn and use the most powerful tools becoming part of everyday
information literacy. At the same time, such efforts may lead
researchers to identify programming metaphors and techniques that
increase the usability of their languages and environments more

In this context, the term programming does not refer solely to languages
designed for professional programmers, such as Java or Basic. Recent
studies suggest end-user programmers outnumber professional programmers
by more than four to one, and their numbers exceed 10 million in the US
alone. For this broader class of programmers, programming takes many
forms.  For example, CAD systems and spreadsheet systems are programming
language environments in which constraints and formulas are snippets of
declarative programs. Other examples include multimedia/web authoring,
voice mail programming, and building macros by demonstration.

Who Can Participate
There are three categories of participation:

1) Graduate student researchers: Students may apply to present their
work to a panel of experts and to interested conference attendees. The
goal is to exchange ideas, generate new ones, and receive constructive
feedback. Current Ph.D. students are preferred, but M.S. students who
intend to go on to pursue a Ph.D. may also apply. For one third of the
participation slots, returning student researchers will be given
priority; and for the other slots, students who have not participated
before will be given priority. Each student from the returning group
will be linked with new students in a mentoring arrangement.

2) Outside experts: A few "outside expert" U.S. participants, who are
not traditionally present at this conference, may also be eligible for
travel support. They will assist the panel of experts in providing
constructive feedback and insights. These participants should be
specialists in areas relevant to the research question, such as
specialists in education, the sociological aspects of computing,
multimodal information access, or ergonomics.

3) Other conference attendees: All other VL/HCC'06 conference attendees
are invited to attend the event to listen to the presentations, interact
with the participants, and add to the feedback available to the
presenters. No additional sign-up process or registration fee is
involved. The event will be one of the tracks during a portion of the
main conference.

Application Process
Applications from graduate students and outside experts are due May 12.

Please send the following items by email:

1. A statement of up to 30 words explaining how your research fits the
    research theme listed above.

2. A 2-page research abstract, formatted in IEEE two-column conference
    format. Abstracts exceeding two pages will not be considered. The
    2-page research abstracts of accepted participants will be included
    in the conference proceedings.

3. A CV.

4. State whether you are applying as a student participant or an outside

5. For students only, a letter of recommendation sent by your thesis
    advisor directly to the organizers in a separate email message.
Preferred file format for attachments is PDF (Adobe Portable Document
All submissions and other correspondence should be directed to John Pane
([log in to unmask]).

Committee/Panel and Event Organizers
John Pane (RAND Corporation)
Martin Erwig (Oregon State University)
Mary Beth Rosson (Pennsylvania State University)
John Hosking (University of Auckland)
Steve Tanimoto (University of Washington)

Deadline for applications: May 12.
Notification: June 2.
Final camera-ready abstracts due: June 16.
Event: September 4-8, 2006.


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