Welcoming the new SIGCHI Accessibility Committee

Soraia Prietch, Professor, Federal University of Rondonópolis
Stacy Branham, Assistant Professor, University of California Irvine

For the past nine months, the Adjunct Chairs for Accessibility as members of the SIGCHI Executive Committee (EC) have been working to identify the most pressing accessibility issues for our community and assist with short-term needs. This includes contracting with vendors to provide SLI (Sign Language Interpretation) and CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) services as a regular practice for meetings and events; supporting conference organizers to understand the importance of and seek out accessibility chairs; conducting meetings and workshops with diverse groups of people to elicit the main accessibility concerns of the community; trying to make accessibility a transversal theme of discussion and concern throughout the different sectors of the EC (e.g., publications, operations, communications, etc.); and collaborating with IMX 2021 organizers to test accessibility interventions and gather concrete data about budgeting and efficacy.

All these activities have served as a sort of “contextual analysis” – as in a first stage of the HCI design life cycle. It is important that we first understand people and context to define goals, to lay a foundation for the following steps: ideate, design a robust strategic plan based on the goals we defined, and evaluate. As in any design process, iteration is important, because goals and plans should be responsive to the changing needs of the organization and the vision of incoming EC members.

Halfway through our time in the EC (~5 months), we formalized our Vision for Accessible SIGCHI into a blog post, in which we reported our values and goals. Some of our goals are long-term and require both a broader range of expertise and more human effort than can be expected of the AC for Accessibility position holders alone. At this point, we realized the need to gather a committee to work with us. So, we set out to convene the first ever SIGCHI Accessibility Committee with an Open Call to the SIGCHI community. Today, we are pleased to share an overview of how we conducted the open call and announce our final list of committee members.

Recruiting and Selection Process

The steps we went through are as follows. 

  1. In the April 2021 EC monthly meeting, we proposed the Accessibility Committee, sharing the draft open call and application documents. Attending EC members gave us the green light to continue with the proposal.
  2. In mid-April, we distributed the open call via the SIGCHI blog, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, as well as through diverse mailing lists, to support an inclusive and transparent process. After publicizing the open call, we drafted and shared a process and selection criteria document with both the EC members and candidates, which we have iteratively honed with feedback. 
  3. In late April, we closed the data collection form, which received 58 complete applications. In early May, we independently evaluated each application in a spreadsheet, based on selection criteria. From this first round of evaluation, we invited 16 candidates to interview, and 14 candidates responded to our interview request. For each interview, we recruited a third EC member to attend based on the candidate’s application interests.
  4. Interviews took place the week of May 17, following an interview protocol we designed and shared with the EC collaborators.
  5. In late May, we started a sequence of two voting processes among the EC members: (1) vote for the newly required committee definition and makeup document and, (2) vote for the proposed committee members. 
  6. We communicated the decision to the 14 candidates, asking whether they still wanted to be part of the Accessibility Committee and informing them that each would have their name checked against the new ACM violations database. Everyone confirmed their interest. 

Committee Members

With thanks to all the applicants and EC members who donated their time to this process, we are delighted to welcome the new committee members, listed below in alphabetical order: 

Annuska Zolyomi
Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Washington, Bothell, USA

Arthur Theil
Lecturer, Birmingham City University, UK

Dafne “Zuleima” Morgado Ramirez
Senior Research Fellow, University College London, UK

Desi Ratna Mukti Umpuan
UX Design Mentor, Apple Developer Academy, Indonesia

Earl Huff Jr.
PhD Candidate, Clemson University, USA

Emeline Brule
Lecturer, University of Sussex, UK

Erin Buehler
Senior UX Researcher, Google, USA

Georg Regal
Researcher, Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria

Maia Naftali
Industry UX Researcher and Teaching Assistant, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Michael Crabb
Lecturer, University of Dundee, UK

Ruolin Wang
PhD student, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Shreya Tadas
PhD student, University College Dublin, Ireland

Silvia Berenice Fajardo-Flores
Associate Professor, Universidad de Colima, México

Xiang Xiao
Software Engineer, Google Research, USA

We invite you to join us in warmly welcoming the new SIGCHI’s Accessibility Committee! Our next step is to hold a committee kick-off meeting in the following weeks. From this meeting on, a new stage of the cycle begins, with fresh ideas and energy as we develop and realize a strategic plan to make SIGCHI accessible. We hope to have news about the committee’s ongoing work by August 2021, in a blog post reporting how the goals are being addressed and how the entire group is being organized around these goals.

References:

  1. Towards a More Equitable, Accessible, and Responsive SIGCHI. https://medium.com/sigchi/towards-a-more-equitable-accessible-and-responsive-sigchi-830745fd86a2 
  2. Vision for an Accessible SIGCHI. https://sigchi.org/2021/01/vision-for-an-accessible-sigchi/ 
  3. Open Call for SIGCHI Accessibility Committee. https://sigchi.org/2021/04/open-call-for-sigchi-accessibility-committee/ 
  4. The New ACM Violation Database. https://sigchi.org/2021/05/the-new-acm-violations-database/
  5. Equity Talk #2: Make SIGCHI Accessible. https://medium.com/sigchi/sigchi-equity-talks-2-making-sigchi-accessible-5bb2d0f5841b